ASD / Aspergers – the baby years part 1

Having a child with ASD – Autism Spectrum Disorder / Aspergers doesn’t make me an expert however I am always willing to share what works for us. My beautiful boy (BB) works harder than me each day to overcome the difference between himself and his peers. Currently BB is 9 years of age and has an aspergers diagnosis from a pediatrician and we hope that by sharing our story you will connect with our journey and find some wisdom.

I usually find that going back to the beginning is a great place to start.

My beautiful boy was born in 2002 and I was totally unprepared to be a mother. I had just returned from travelling the world, which included 13 different countries in 6 months. When my baby’s father and I had returned from our world trip we got married, moved and started living together alone for the first time since we started dating 2 years earlier.

My pregnancy was normal and crazy all at the same time. After returning back to Australia at 7 ½ months pregnant I would go to an antenatal appointment with a midwife or obstetrician, they would ask me when did I start to feel the baby move? My reply would be ‘on tour in Ireland’.

My midwife would ask when did I notice the baby kicking? My reply “when we were in Rome”.

The birth was difficult, long and ended in an emergency c-section.

My recovery from the c-section, a failed epidural & two procedures to fix it meant that the first six weeks of BB’s life is a blur. My weekly visits to my GP were via taxi and I shuffled around bent over like an old man. The holes in my spine were leaking fluid and this caused migraines. Movement aggravated the migraines and I had nerve damage in my lower back that made moving my legs difficult. Not an ideal start to motherhood, nor a great start for BB.

Between the age of 6 – 8 weeks my baby boy received his first immunization shots, he started crying all the time and having problems settling / sleeping.

From the perspective of ASD / Asperges, I want to make these points about my boy’s start out in life:

1. my pregnancy was unusual

2. the birth was difficult and I had every drug available

3. he was immunized

4. genetics are a contributing factor

Each night from 8 weeks of age a sleep pattern emerged:

BB woke up crying, I would change his nappy, lay down to breastfeed which would take an hour. It would take me 10 – 15 minutes to get him to fall asleep and I would attempt to put him in a basinet beside our bed. It would take me 10 minutes to fall asleep and then in 30 minutes BB would start crying and our routine would begin all over again.

One memorial night my husband yelled at me “for g*d sake leave him in our bed and we will get more sleep”. Having a baby sleep in our bed was foreign concept to me, so my very supportive parent group suggested I read Deborah Jackson’s book, ‘Three in the bed’.

For the next two years my little boy would on a good night sleep 45 minutes at each interval and I would hopefully be getting 30-40 minutes. If there were any changes in the weather especially seasonal BB would not be able to sleep. I noticed that when I changed the sheets on our bed, he would have a restless night. Changing the sheets from plain cotton to flannette would result in BB not sleeping for a week. We did attempt going away on holidays a couple of times which was not pretty. BB would stay up all night crying / feeding and would sleep during the day while we walked around with him in the baby sling.

Another book that was helpful in settling BB is Pinky Mckay’s ‘Sleeping like a baby’. I didn’t find out about this book much later, possibly when BB was a year old and this was via the wonderful Australian Breastfeeding Association counsellors.

How did he not sleep? Well, he would just cry or had this little whine noise he would make really loudly. My GP convinced me that he had colic and I tried every know over the counter drop with no luck. It was amazing how a tiny little baby learnt how to avoid a liquid dropper and spit up any fluid I attempted to squirt into his mouth. Obviously he didn’t have colic, hind sight is a wonderful thing.

BB was delayed in his milestones for sitting up, crawling and walking. He was advanced with his speech and started repeating words like Katie and Kisses when he was 4 months old. My older brother offered me great advice about BB’s delays, he said it didn’t matter because all baby’s caught up to their milestones by 2 years of age. He would know because all of his children were born premature.

As a baby BB never put anything in his mouth and most of my mother friends loved that about my beautiful boy. Even when he started crawling he didn’t put anything in his mouth. I would watch in envy as little baby’s younger than my BB would grab at food on their high chairs and put it into their little mouths. Little babies would put their fingers in their mouths and chew when teething, my BB didn’t do this. It took much coaching and constant effort each day to get BB to put food in his mouth. When he was nearly two years of age we had success with giving him a little bit of ice cream on a stick. Usually he would sit in his high chair with his mouth open like a little bird waiting for someone to put food in it.

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