Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Lightbulb Moment

The next year is a bit of a blur. Button's central line (or "Freddie" as we called it) was removed after 6 months and a CT scan of his chest showed that, rather miraculously, there was no damage at all to his lungs. We were told to keep up with his oral meds for another 6 months, just to be on the safe side. But to all intents and purposes, Button was cured of his TB.

He had been put on a special formula called Nutrini, which saw him put on weight and his growth chart showed a dramatic improvement. He went from 12.5 lbs at 13 months to 20lbs at 16 months! All in all, things were looking fantastic for our little man!

Or were they? Just as his health seemed to improve, a whole new set of problems began to rear their ugly heads. No-one expected him to be at the same developmental level as his peers, but as he approached his 2nd birthday, the gap seemed to get wider and wider. He rarely played appropriately with toys, preferring instead to spin wheels on his trucks and press the same buttons on the electronic toys over and over again. He developed the first of his obsessions - balls. We couldn't go into a shop without leaving with a ball. Yet he never kicked, threw or bounced one. Just carried it around with him. He was also becoming quite aggressive.

We had been referred to the early intervention team, and he was getting lots of physiotherapy and a small amount of speech therapy. But it was next to impossible to discern if his delays were due to his physical problems, his institutionalisation or something else. In general, we were all happy with the progress he was making considering all he'd been through. We still thought that with the right therapies, and a lot of patience and time, he would catch up.

My "A-ha" moment came in May 2004, as Button was approaching his 3rd birthday. We were on holidays in France, with my parents and my brother, his wife and their son. We had all rented little holiday homes next to each other on a gorgeous campsite, and were having an absolutely wonderful time. One day, Button was in Nana & Papa's "house", as I went in to get him I was greeted by gales of laughter, and Papa taking photos of Button sitting on the floor with 4 or 5 saucepan lids spinning around him. He was going back and forth making sure none dropped, like a circus performer.

It hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. We had been to a safari park, a theme park, a zoo, many playgrounds and the beach, and nothing had captured his attention like those saucepan lids! Suddenly, everything began to fall into place -the obsessions, the lack of eye contact, the inappropriate use of language and his aggression. My darling, darling, boy had autism.


  1. It amazes me how we 'know', not just that, but we know it is autism and don't think it is anything else. My lightbulb moment was similiar and I knew it couldn't be anything else, so much so that it upsets me reading about other lightbulb moments. The upset of that moment doesn't go away easily because that one small moment is time changes everything in our lives so dramatically. Really touching post Taz:) Jen.

  2. I too remember my "Ah-ha" moment when Griffin wouldn't turn around when I called his name. I had his hearing checked and it was just fine so then I knew that it was autism. Griffin carried around spoons obsessively, no matter what he needed to do with his hands he would always have the spoons.

    That is when we started early intervention at age 15 months, before his official diagnosis of autism. And I know that the early intervention made a huge difference in what he has become and all the progress that he has had through the years.

    Great post Taz! Lora

  3. takes me back to lukes early years, Taz, well written as always xxx

  4. Ooh god tara. Im play grounds Luca played with stones, also obsessed with balls and spinning wheels on toys and buggies.
    Was like I was reading about him in old days

    great blog, the light bulb moment for me came at such an early time that it did not Impact on me but the diagnosis did

    lovely blog and heart warming

  5. Ah the light bulb moment, we all have them don't we! Kyle's obsession has always been trains from a very early age and it still is, Great blog as always hun xxx

  6. funny our a-ha moment as you put it was also in france just after his grommets operation, before that it was maybe this, maybe that someone on rollercoaster had said to me "if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck it probably is a duck" on this holiday i'm afraid he began to be a duck and i had to face it when we came home. that was a brilliant post! can't wait to read more x

  7. Love your post (as ever) tazzy. It's amazing when you have your A-Ha moment, you wonder how on eath you didn't see it before...and it does leave life utterly different XXX

  8. Fab post Tazzy. Its amazing how we can reason away the quirky behaviour of our little ones while they are still little. I had my A-Ha moment when Munchkin was a lot younger but I couldn't put it down to the early months spent in an institution or illness. I still remember the day the penny dropped like it was yesterday but thankfully we have made such progress it softens the raw emotion it used to envoke when I thought back to that day. Munchkin still has a love of stones and pebbles to this day and recently has developed a love of clocks and demands one when we go to Tesco... We now have 3 wall clocks, two watches and an alarm clock in the den but hey, whatever makes the shopping trip easier lol.


  9. I am loving your blog Tazzy! Havent commented, but have been reading since the beginning! button is a lucky little boy to have such a lovely Mum.

    Meadow ( petunia's sister!!!)

    fellow AP

  10. Hi! I'm visiting from MBC. Great blog.

  11. Oh, I just got chills. Us Autie moms know all about this don't we. For us, there was no real lightbulb, I knew something was really wrong all along. But didn't allow myself to accept it until the first eval was done. Then, the tears poured, and it was done, all out on the table.

    I loved reading your story, isn't is true about safety in numbers? Thank you for being so transparent.