Early on I knew something was a little off with my son. His speech was delayed right off the bat. I was living with my parents after my separation from my son's mother and my son and I were at the neighbor's house visiting. Later that week I got a call from someone at the school. Call it nosey or caring, the neighbor was concerned about my sons speech and had called them. I had just thought he wasn't learning words as fast as other kids his age. It was the first time I had thought something was wrong. At that point it was too early for school and I had no idea about autism spectrum disorder.
When he was about four I met my wife. She was from California and enjoys reading on the internet. She was the first person to bring up autism to me. We started researching and eventually got him diagnosed. Prior to that we knew there was a good chance he had autism because of his behavior in preschool. The elementary school gave him an assessment and a diagnosis of autism. Soon after that we started speech therapy for him which helped a ton.
Autism is a long road with ups and downs, trial and error and what works and what doesn't. Through the years he has been to cognitive behavioral therapy which worked a bit. Regular therapy, which again worked a little bit and by worked I should say he showed improvement. Many charts and signs, things we learned along the way. My wife was always reading about new things that helped other kids his age. Early on my son had troubles in school with his temper and blowing up which lead to me being at the school almost as much as him. Throwing chairs, water bottles and everything else. Swearing at classmates and whatnot.
My wife and I were stretched thin and thought there has to be more answers out there. We took him in to get another assessment as recommended by his therapist at about eight or nine when we got another shock. He saw a psychologist which then told us she thought he could have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. I had not really thought of that either in the past but after the psychologist brought up some of his symptoms it made sense. So with the ASD and FASD diagnosis it was back to therapy and many tries with charts and pictures to help him along the way. By this time he was having bathroom issues, would lie about everything and anything, sneak treats and use of the tv and computer. School was calling more days than not. We had an IEP going but the school just wasn't following through.
During this time we also had a house fire and my wife got laid off of her job of eight years. It was rough to say the least. I started drinking more which just complicated things. I was depressed and it seemed like everyday was filled with drama and heartache. My son's mom wasn't always attentive to his special needs when he would visit her and we were at constant battles with her. My poor wife didn't know she signed up for all of this. Many tearful nights and hopeless feelings.
After the fire we moved and my wife found another job. We started to get a better grasp on how to help my son. Eventually we decide on doing online schooling since his grades were hurting in school and nothing was getting better. The school was not accommodating his needs. Homeschooling was great, we moved at our own pace and he had very few distractions. After a stumble or two adjusting to school on the computer he really started to flourish. His last report card was straight A's which I never could have imagined before. We had problems with him playing games and watching videos during school but got a handle on that.
I went to outpatient treatment for my alcohol addiction and I've been sober for six months. Yes there are still bad days, but just as many good ones as of late. We are all working together to come up with strategies to help him and talking out problems instead of yelling. Life has been pretty good lately and with the launch of this website I find myself busy and content.
All I can say to parents with children newly diagnosed with ASD or FASD is that it's a long road but you do start to see changes and strategies do start to work. Let things happen slowly which is easier said than done. My son used a daily planner which took probably 3-4 years of trial and error to get it down. My wife has been amazingly patient through everything and I love her and my son dearly!