There are many aspects to my life. My bipolar [BD], my photography and my family. These three things make up my life. Another additional aspect to these three is Kieran who has Aspergers Syndrome [AS], which is on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder [ASD].
Kieran is a unique child. He is loving, friendly, intelligent, beautiful, well mannered and curious of things. I would have said “special” but all our children are special be they additional needs or neurologically typical [NT].
Kieran was diagnosed at an early age, I think he was about 3 years when the nursery he was attending noticed that Kieran was different. He did not play with other children, he played alongside. He wouldn’t make eye contact or communicate properly. He was not meeting his milestones in nursery. He was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome [AS] at 5 years old.
With AS we had to deal with Kieran’s idiosyncrasies. Like always having an iPad, avoiding things or places that could cause a sensory overload and therefore cause a meltdown. The looks you get when Kieran has a meltdown are painful, not only do we have to deal with an upset child but the looks of unsympathetic strangers who have no idea, not a clue about Kieran and what is going on.
We, Sarah and I, wanted to give him, Kieran, our best and we placed him in a Mainstream school. This however did not always fit in with Kieran as Kieran did not always fit in. We had to fight to get him the things he needed like a Teaching Assistant [TA] who knew and understood Kieran, autism and his needs.
Things came to a head when something as simple and mundane as lunchtime became a problem- Kieran had to come home for his lunch due to the school not having adequate cover for lunchtime from his TA or others. This caused friction between us and the school. Eventually he was at school for lunch twice a week then three times a week and eventually after someone pointed out that the school was inadvertently discriminating against Kieran he was allowed the full five days of the school week.
Another battle in a long fight for Kieran.
Thing is as Kieran became older and grew and matured the differences between him and his classmates became obvious. His classmates were changing and maturing at a different rate to Kieran. When I watched him in the playground when I dropped him off at school he would be on his own, in isolation from the others. His classmates had developed friendships and had their own groups.
That is one of the problems with autism. It is an isolating social disorder as well as a neurological disorder. This is not to say he did not have friends. Kieran does have friends. Kian and Shana. Kian who gave him the friendship that is so important and Shana who would watch out for Kieran and protect him when the less than considerate and tolerant members of Kieran’s class took advantage of him by bullying him. These friendships are special and important.
When Kieran left mainstream primary eduction to go to a special needs secondary school. The school had a leaving party for the pupils. The parents who organised it, Caroline and Annabell, arranged the party they had with Kieran in mind and went out of their way to make sure it was suitable for Kieran to come to it. They made sure it was not too loud and not a sensory overload. Kieran protested to me that he did not want to go. Eventually we persuaded him to go even if it was just for 5 minutes.
You know what- he went to the party and stayed the whole evening. In fact Kieran was the only one to dance with another girl. Go Kieran(!)
Kieran is so very different from his younger brother Brendan. Brendan would be described as Neurologically Typical [NT]. Brendan can be a precocious, funny and compared to Kieran wonderfully, wonderfully boring. Sometimes I feel Brendan is 9 going on 15 years old at times.
Brendan and Kieran have a loving but difficult relationship at times. It genuinely makes me sad that Brendan, the younger sibling, has to play the role of the big brother for Kieran.
Sadly at this point in Kieran’s life I cannot see him going through life with the guidance or supervision of others in his future. Be that me and Sarah, little Brendan or a responsible adult supervising Kieran.
But just because I cannot see it happening now does not mean it is impossible. Kieran is settled at a special needs school that can tackle Kieran and his traits.
Well I have written enough at the moment. In my next blog I will talk more about how Kieran’s autism affects me and my bipolar.
Feel free to message me and Sarah with any questions.