A day before Ariella’s fourth birthday and one day after Autism awareness week has ended Ariella was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We assumed that it was likely to be the case but knowing it is very definitive and I feel very at peace today. Up until now I have tried my best to describe the behaviours, the difference in the way A thinks and communicates without having the right words. I would often say “I think she’s autistic” or use all the descriptive phrases but what we really lacked was the support to know what is coming ahead. It probably sounds crazy but we are facing an unknown genetic condition, unknown prospects, we’ve never been sure at all that any of her blood tests, any of her immune reactions can be taken for certainty. When you are dealing with a rare condition that has no name, it’s impossible to look at the average. ASD is so well documented, I’m relieved to be able to put a name to the way that she behaves, the manner in which she “socialises” and communicates. The rigidity that ripples reaching far beyond just A and spills over into all of our lives. It’s reassuring to be able to justify the way we have to adapt finally, we have to adjust our expectations to new ways of thinking and that can seem rather overwhelming. But knowing why really helps put to bed any doubt in the methods – not that there were many.
On Sunday we took both children to Marwell Zoo as a birthday treat, once we had explained this to A she was keen to have birthday cake and candles. She walked her way into the Zoo with one aim, find cake, find candles. I tried to explain that we were here also to see the animals which was met by “No animals” repetitively. It’s not the first time we’ve taken her somewhere and immediately wondered if we have made the right choice, we’ve really not utilised a lot of attraction tickets over the years. When we visited Canada I think we probably did the quickest tour of Niagara Falls ever. We did after some time accept that we would need to find some cake, which we did. First we had ice cream, A has taken to moving her evening ice cream to pre food, so a starter rather than a dessert which is a direct result of me using it to keep her occupied while I cook in the evenings. After this she began asking for her lunch, which we knew would probably happen, we managed to take her to a playground briefly until the requests for lunch became frustrating and decided to take her for lunch instead.
It was after all her birthday treat and the aim was to keep her happy, while also giving Sebastian some time around to Zoo. Straight after finishing her meal she wanted to get up and go home. Which was rather predictable, again – we managed to add in a couple of visits around a few of the animals briefly and a small trip to another park. All in very predictable and we knew she would want to go home, but we still try because I think it’s really important that while she might be able to stand right next to a Rhinoceros and not even glance or acknowledge it meanwhile a black and white wheel is the most fascinating thing ever. Until we try we won’t know and neither does she, so try we must – always.