Ever since they were toddlers, my two grandsons have been mad about trains. They started off with plastic baby toys and then went on to wooden Brio. Later, their interest was focused on mechanical and electric train sets.
They are both obsessed with computer games that have anything to do with trains, such as a Lego train game with different variations of building tracks and layouts. They would both spend all day on these computer games if they were allowed.
They have always liked going on train rides. This started off with small rides by the sea on miniature railways and progressed to proper steam trains like the one above. Though why the seat was tied down like that, I do not know. I'm sure it wasn't because my grand sons were coming!
The oldest grandson has just been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, at twelve years of age. I have mentioned before that I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd have had Asperger's Syndrome, but no, it is not that. Apparently Rick doesn't have the obsessions that go with it. Children can have intense interest in something, apparently, and not be unusual.
I've mentioned before that he has been really struggling with Secondary School and had been appointed an extra helper even before the disorder was diagnosed. It isn't as though he doesn't understand the work. He is quite clever when he is focused on anything. He just has a problem with emotional and social skills and sticking with things that don't interest him.
He likes to play with younger people and is usually very good with them. Sometimes, though, when I think he is acting unfairly to some other child, I have asked him, "How do you think that makes that child feel? Happy or sad?" He has usually replied to that kind of question, that he is not sure, which has often made me rather annoyed, until now that is.
It's the same with eye contact. All of us have had to say to Rick, "Look at me when I talk to you." However, I often have to say that to the children at school, even the ones without a problem.
Rick often stares at the speaker, with such intensity, and that doesn't seem right either.
Usually, if we ask a question that involves a feeling, he will giggle and look awkward as he genuinely cannot answer something that he cannot understand.
Much of the time he is fine, but certain things cause a problem. Excessive faddishness with food, to the point of almost starving himself if he doesn't have the right brand of bread. Or his beans are touching his chips and he has to have them put in a dish away from the dryer foods. He is very thin, like a bean pole and Dean, who is younger by two years has always been a larger and sturdier child. So we cannot make it too difficult for Rick to get enough to eat.
He is under a dietician at a hospital and is waiting for blood tests to see if there is a medical problem.
He refuses to do homework and anything else that he really doesn't want to do.
So far, we have not had any advice as to what to do about behaviour and although Rick will be followed up at the hospital now, Deb and I are having to look up on the net to see exactly what the condition is. However, there doesn't seem to be any guidance about what to do. Most children are picked up at an earlier age.
What will happen about exams?
Will he ever have a normal relationship when he grows older?
Will he be allowed to drive?
What about work?
So many things are going through our minds right now.
I know some of you have autistic children or grandchildren. Could any of you point me in the right direction as to what books I could read. Where do we go next?
I realize that the condition varies from being very severe to mild and that it might not be as easy to find answers to our questions.
However, opinions and help would be much appreciated. We both feel we have been left to our own devices. Help!