Damian wrote this story at school shortly after a visit from his two-year old cousin Lily and her family. I love this story for several reasons. It’s accurate, it’s funny (from an parent’s perspective) and it’s impressive (for a five-year old).
‘On Saturday, in the afternoon, my cousin came to my house. Her name is Lily. Her Dad’s name is Kim and her mum’s name is Wendy. Wendy’s baby is called Abigail. Lily pooed all over the ground. There was also poo on her leg. She was also snatching toys and saying mine, mine, mine and she tried to snatch a toy off me then she fell down.’ She fell down because she slipped in her poo.
Damian was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, at three years of age. It was no big deal to me, because I have Asperger’s Syndrome too; it’s our normal. However, I intended to do everything I could to set him up for success (happiness, self-worth, belonging, achievement etc.) in life. In addition to having weekly appointments with a speech pathologist to help learn play skills that would benefit him for pre-school/school and advice from a child psychologist for his anxieties when needed, we engaged the services of an occupational therapist in anticipation of potential difficulties Damian may have with fine motor skills, especially handwriting.
While all my primary school classmates graduated with a ‘pen license’ (awarded after a certain level of neatness was achieved), I was the only one in my class who did not. Thank goodness I did not take the license too literally otherwise I would still be writing with grey lead pencil today. Yet my handwriting is a huge improvement on my husband’s handwriting, which he sometimes has trouble reading himself.
Some people may say ‘It’s a boy thing’ or ‘It’s an Asperger’s thing’ but Damian has put an end to that myth of the origins of poor handwriting in our family. While the input from the occupational therapist assisted Damian with developing an interest and confidence with his handwriting, I think that he inherited his neat handwriting skills from my mum. Out of my immediate family, only my brother David had previously adopted my mother’s lovely handwriting skills, but now it seems that Damian has too.
Let’s face it, this post is a ‘brag’ post; it’s a celebration of how thrilled I am that my son has had a successful first year at school against all odds (the odds being what the literature tells you to expect for a child with Autism and from what I experienced as a child).
Damian enjoys school. His teacher told me that he has been a pleasure to teach, he has a best friend and plays regularly with several other friends. He even once complained that everyone wants to play with him at school. As if that wasn’t enough, he recently confided in me that he has a girlfriend (I confirmed the meaning of the word girlfriend with him too). I didn’t have my first boyfriend until I was in my 20s.
I am so happy that Damian has had a wonderful first year at school. I expect there will be challenges in the future, as for any child, but this first year has given me a boost of confidence. I’m glad we prepared well for school because it showed me what is possible for Damian. My pessimism has been replaced with optimism for his future school experiences and I could not be happier.