Knowing we were on our own and would be for months was actually frightening, things for Lachlan and us all were bad, I was terrified how much worse things would become if we just sat about waiting, having a definite diagnoses of Global Developmental Delay and knowing it was highly probable a diagnoses of Autistic Spectrum Disorder was going to follow in time, I set about trying to make life for Lachlan and in turn us all at least a little better.
I watched Lachlan for a day or two, of course I hade been watching him all his little life but this was watching with newly opened eyes, I made notes in my head about everything that seemed to set off a negative reaction.
The only thing Lachlan liked to play with was our PC as a baby he had been fascinated with it, at around 14 months of age we discovered Lachlan knew how the PC worked, from 18 months he could from the desktop screen, open google, clear the web bar, type in the letter B bring up the BBC homepage and from there either watch what he wanted on the iPlayer or play games on CBeebies, or have two windows open so he could do both at once, now at 3 he has broken the PC and fixed it many times, bought loads on Amazon interestingly usually toys or DVDs from the shows he liked, Lachlan loves to explore the worldwide web. I did then and do now allow him some freedom to explore.
The first and perhaps most obvious problem was Lachlan didn’t play, on the advice of professionals most of Lachlan’s toys and lots of buttons, sound and lights, these toys were not right, Lachlan was either frightened of the light and noise they made ( sensory overload) causing ear covering and head banging or would spend hours pushing the same button over and over again, on, off, on, off never doing anything more with the toy, another suddenly huge apparent issue was all Lachlan’s toys were age appropriate all were for 2-3 years plus, it struck me in the middle of a sleepless night that if a child has Global Developmental Delay normal rules are out, I packed away nearly all Lachlan’s toys and went shopping. I bought an Elefun which has balls pop out its trunk meant for 9-18 month old toddlers, a click clack track where the cars slide and drop from top to bottom, wooden shape sorters and a few wooden peg puzzles, no lights, very little sound and only one button in all the toys put together.
I will never forget the smile and happy sounds that first afternoon we set up Elefun, to begin with Lachlan watched from a distance hands covering his ears and just watching from the corner of his eye, with in half an hour with gentle encouragement he was chasing coloured balls round the room and bringing them back for more. We quickly learnt Lachlan liked shapes and shape sorter toys I also realised Lachlan was cleverer than he was being given credit for……
It was November I had bought my Christmas present, an IPad, I set it up, within minutes Lachlan has it sussed and was off to CBeebies, the IPad being touch screen I believe developed the first skill needed on the long road to speech a skill Lachlan was still missing at two and a half, to make the IPad work Lachlan had to use a single finger to point!
Lachlan quickly got the hang of pointing miraculously he cleverly realised that pointing on the IPad got him what he wanted, pointing for biscuits, food, drink all followed very quickly, suddenly we had at last opened very early lines of communication, If Lachlan was upset or distressed I started to ask him to show me what he wanted, it was hit or miss and still is in many ways, it was a massive corner turned.
I had already bought Lachlans Christmas presents, everyone bought over the year with lots of thought and hope of a smile on giving them to Lachlan. I had to accept based on the success we were having with the new simpler toys, what I had stashed away was inappropriate, the little balance bike is all I have kept in the hope one day Lachlan might master it, all the rest I sold months down the line when it sank in it could be years before Lachlan is ready for them. Some thought I was mad, perhaps I was a little, I couldnt believe the diffrence in my wee lad in a few short weeks, the decision was made Lachlan got his very own IPad for Christmas, we have set rules as to when Lachlan can have his IPad by no means does he have it all day, I saw and still do see the IPad as a way into Lachlans world a world I sometimes am allowed into.
Everyday I would spend an hour or so purposefuly playing with Lachlan and a chosen toy or toys trying to develop new skills and strengthen imerging ones, no one showed us how it just felt the right thing to do.
I decided to pick our battles, we stopped the pointless battle for solid food for the time being, let Lachlan sleep in our room, shoes and socks were not nessasary in the buggy with the cosy toes on, tooth brushing stopped as did hair washing, clothes were only essential if going out, all these things were a sensory nightmare for Lachlan, we just took time to breathe.
We kept taking Lachlan shopping, for days out, to visit friends and family, partly because he didn’t seem to mind also because the rest of us needed some normality.
By Christmas 2012, 6 weeks post assesment we had a more settled happier little man. The only help and advice we had came from a very good friend to you I owe everything.