Photos are copyright of Maggie May.
Not long ago, my four grandchildren got together for the weekend and it is always lovely for the cousins to meet up.
One evening, I went with my son and my daughter, my husband and the four children for a pub meal and the children were happy to play in the enclosed grounds after eating.
Dean, Amber and Millie always get on so well and can often be seen with their heads together playing some game or other. Dean has infinite patience with his younger cousins.
However, Rick, who has autism, quite often wants to do his own thing and leaves the others to their own devices, often preferring to kick the wood bark and run around and release his energy. Sometimes this can get out of hand.
I think I knew there was something different about him when he was three years old and I noticed at his Birthday parties that he always seemed to be in a corner by himself, playing with his wrapping paper, while his guests played together with his toys.
It appeared that he was shy and it must have been put down to that. By the time he got to ten or eleven, it was pointed out at school that he was falling behind with his work and going off into a little reverie, when he wasn't interested in the subject, which was quite often. He also seemed to genuinely have little inkling about other people's feelings and didn't show much empathy towards others if they got hurt and his social skills seemed to be lagging behind too. He always liked to play with younger people rather than his own peers.
By the age of twelve, he was diagnosed with high functioning autistic spectrum disorder. My daughter is now joining organizations and getting advice on funding for him as well as visits to the Educational Psychologist. I just wish that it had been diagnosed earlier.
Sometimes he does play well with his brother and smaller cousins, so he is not always solitary and he does have some close friends at school who like and accept him.
Whatever has happened, my first born, fair haired grandson will always be loved by us. He is unique, as all these children are. He is a very special child, like the other three.
I just hope that he will not slip through the net at school though and that Deb will manage to get the very best for him.
Through no fault of my daughter's, there is a big delay in trying to get an official statement for school, so that Rick would get extra help automatically every school year and there is no guarantee that this will be granted.
Sometimes it is like trying to get blood out of a stone with the authorities that we have to go through even though Deb seems to be jumping through hoops!
I found that Crystal Jigsaw's post *Alternative Wiring* about her daughter's autism was very helpful and it is always useful to read about other peoples experiences.
Every child with this condition is different and we are also trying to cope with a child who has been hurt by the illness and the death of his father and also with the hormones that are beginning to rage round his body.
Why, oh why didn't I speak of my suspicions earlier! There was a lot going on in the boys' lives for a good few years and I suppose Rick's condition was not as significant as his difficult home situation was at the time. There was always the chance that he was reacting to those situations and that there was nothing else wrong with him.
Nothing can put the clocks back, but now that we know about his condition, Rick is responding to extra private tuition in the subjects that he found difficult and his weekly trips to the local Autism group that helps him with socializing. He certainly responds to one to one tuition better than being in a large group. It is no use though, to always be thinking if only...... We have to live in the here and now and hope that things will work out well for him.