Monday, 19 November 2012

A lion in the clouds: another story of autism and an iPad

Three year old Elliot has non-verbal autism , but great computer skills.  His Mum tells his story:

I remember what a good baby he was, he didn't cry a lot and seemed happy and content.  I did notice  that he never pointed and rarely turned to his name.  He also was late with sitting alone and crawling. But it wasn't until his second birthday that I knew something just wasn't right...he was still crawling and it wasn't just forwards it was backwards and sideways.......

He finally walked at 26 months, but at the same time he stopped talking, he lost all the words he had learned, and he quickly began to isolate himself from the world, he became so distant, in his own bubble, and I couldn't reach him.   Up on his feet, he wouldn't make eye contact with anyone, even me, even when he was in the pram he would just close his eyes and put his hands over his ears.   He began to play with his toys in a different way, all cars would be turned upside down so he could spin the wheels and look at them up close...........

Everyone told me that he would catch up, that he was just late, or just a boy.....But I went to get help.... Then came the day, the day I won't ever forget, the day when a therapist said those words:


My heart felt as though it had been ripped out, I was in shock, devastated, scared, why me?  I was told he would have this for the rest of his life.  I think it took me months to even talk about it, it was like I was grieving for the normal life he should have had and with no choice had to get used to the new one.........but he was still my little man, still my Elliot, just Different. 

What followed was home research, hours and hours of research, conflicting studies, opinions, advice, listening to doctors waffle on, and signs and symptoms of Autism on searches.   I needed to understand his ways and habits, why he did the things he did.  I thought if I understood maybe I could help and get him back.  Soon after the appointments started, I had them coming out of my ears, lots and lots of talking/arguing/explaining/questions/hospital/ doctors/blood tests/brain scans/play therapy/speech therapy/physiotherapy/meetings with educational psychologists/ nursery/outreach workers and health visitors filling out form after form, explaining his habits, obsessions, fears, sensory issues with noise, touch, light, strict routine, makaton and pecs, life became very different.......

I had been told that Autistic children have their strengths, sometime they display remarkable abilities and skills from a young age.  Elliot is a visual thinker, and has strong technological skills through computers, and this was the only thing he seemed to show an interest in and connect to, this was the road to go down, so he could learn and progress. 

There are times I fear that I cant cope and the tide might just pull me under, moments when I think I don't do enough for him or I think too much about the future.  Then I plant my feet firmly back into the sand and I breathe normally again, as he will have done the smallest thing to remind me that he is unique and amazing.

I saw this so clearly when I bought an iPad for him and for the first time he actually used his imagination at 3 years old....he amazed me with his drawings, use of imagination and photography through his computer, my favorite was his use of the camera as he captured the clouds looking like a lion.

I really believe that all the fantastic learning apps and communication apps will encourage him to talk, communicate and continue the use of his imagination.

Elliot's Mum Sarah runs a support group for parents and children with disabilities in Morecambe and a great new page called Apps for Autism tested by Mums:

If your child needs an iPad please check out Hearts and Minds:

Twitter: @handmchallenge

No comments:

Post a Comment