Today’s blog is really personal. It’s also not really about Visual Impairment, but about my daughter Isla who is 7. Yesterday, after years of questioning certain behaviours and moods, struggles with school and social environments, we finally spoke with a developmental paediatrician who has confirmed to us that he believes she is almost certainly on The Autistic Spectrum, and has anxiety, developmental and separation issues.
It’s now that familiar feeling of partial relief that we aren’t imaging it, that she’s not ‘trouble’, and also a great sadness. Not that she is on the ‘Spectrum’ so much (she’s actually in the majority now in our family), more that her life may well be difficult, troubled, complicated. The worst feeling ever is when your 7 year old says “I hate myself”.
I’m really hoping that this is the chance of new beginnings though- she’s to start a brand new (Junior School), and now we are ‘in the system’ we have a higher chance of getting support, advice, and provision to hopefully lead to a happier girl.
This was her today. No hint really about the fact that she barely slept last night, she was in such a tantrum yesterday that she slammed her own hand in the bathroom door hinge. No hint that she has been having a ‘settling’ in period in her new school for 3 days, and has been the only child who was unable to say ‘goodbye’ to her Dad and have him leave the building. No hint that she has spent her time not at the school shouting, crying, swearing, being rude, defiant, juxtaposed with hugging us so tight it hurts and refusing to let us go. No hint that she screams that she “wants to be a boy”, and we had to choose the new school partially by how relaxed they would be about her wearing the ‘boys uniform’. Notice however how she won’t look at the camera- she asked for all the photos in various poses, but was facing herself in a mirror and couldn’t drag her eyes towards me for the pictures. The above photo is the one I’ve chosen to share on Facebook, but this one is more accurate, I guess:
She is amazing, funny, loyal, clever, has great attention to detail, writes beautifully and has stunning language. At times it feels like she is almost an adult in conversation, yet it’s matched by tantrums, tears, hurting herself, hurting us, loving us fiercely, yet pushing us away with all her might.
Our future is definitely not blighted by our diagnosis, but it is time to ‘get real’, and decide that she will have to choose her own path, and our biggest job is ensuring others let her.