Day 2 of Autism Awareness week and I got thinking of the very first time I heard the word.
My baby, around 18 months old, was not your typical happy, babbling toddler.
She was a grumpy, unsociable, cry all the time toddler….
….but she was perfect to me.
As a first time Mum I had no idea about developing babies, only what the books told me…
….the books I had stopped reading when I realised my baby was not meeting her milestones at the expected ages.
I remember going to my Mums’ friends house.
My girl screaming and screaming about nothing.
It went on for ages and the lady said “she has got that thing…you know..beginning with A, I can see it in her eyes”.
I had no idea what she meant and just shrugged it off.
“Autism, that’s it. She has Autism”, she said.
Horrified, angry, upset, I left.
How dare she say that, how dare she?
I remember feeling sad that she thought there was something wrong with my girl.
..But I thought the same.
I was horrified that someone who rarely saw my girl could see she was different.
..But I already knew.
I was angry that she suggested my girl could have Autism.
..But I had already thought the same.
But to hear those words from someone else.
It broke my heart.
It tore me apart.
I cried and cried.
Of course I denied it for a while.
Hurt and ashamed I pretended she was ok.
Then I googled Autism and saw it there in black and white.
A description of my girl; of every late milestone, the sleepless nights, the not talking, the crying day and night. It was all there.
I was terrified.
That A word.
That word that I knew nothing about.
The stereotypical behaviour I had seen on tv and in films.
I knew no better.
Autism was a stranger to me.
That A word meant our lifes were going to change forever.