Day Three: Autism Awareness Month blogathon
My 5yo boy L has autism. He is the reason I am furiously writing a post a day for the month of April. Here is the story of how I became an autism mum.
My boy L came into my life quite serendipitously. I had been a foster carer for only a few months and was in between placements when I was asked to care for a 2yo for the weekend. Her carer was taking on a newborn straight from hospital and she wanted a couple of days break to help settle him in.
When the other carer dropped her 2yo off at my house, she had this little newborn with her. He was incredibly tiny and had a head full of beautiful auburn coloured hair. After the carer had left, my niece Pearl said to me ‘Rose – you should have just grabbed that baby and run! He is SO beautiful!’
Later in the week I laughingly told my support worker what Pearl had said – ha ha! I had a full time job, my plan was to foster school aged kids, I’d been told time and again during the training process – do NOT hold out for a baby, you won’t get one! I never even considered it, it just wasn’t in the plan.
My support worker told me that actually, they were looking for a long term placement for this little bubba….would I be interested? I was at work when I was having this conversation and it was one of those moments when the work environment faded into silence, the world stopped spinning and I was suspended in time.
My brain started whirring, thinking about all the practicalities, my job, all the stuff you need for a baby, other commitments…my life. My worker gave me a little more information about why this child was coming into care, a bit of family information and also said that it wasn’t confirmed yet as the Department were still in the process of making sure that all options within his birth family were being explored and that may take another couple of weeks’. That made it easier. I could say yes and it probably wouldn’t work out.
‘OK definitely consider me’
Life continued and a few weeks later, I get another call at work – can you come into the support agency’s office this afternoon – we want to talk to you about this possible placement. I think I may have levitated. I definitely flew into their offices. Work? Who cares?
The discussion was very positive. The Department had made their decision and they would be happy for me to become his long term carer but I would need to take time off work and when/if I returned to work, I would need to work part time. We discussed a plan to transition him into my care.
His carer had noticed that he wasn’t doing any visual tracking and seemed to be avoiding eye contact, so she had organised an appointment with an ophthalmologist that week so asked me to come along to that. So one of the first things we did together was to go to an appointment. Little did I know just how many of those we would attend over the next few years.
The specialist pronounced him ‘totally blind’ that day. The structure of his eyes was good, but he was not responding to light at all which meant that the issue was neurological (hmmmmm). He said either he’ll slowly improve over the next few months or he won’t and he will stay blind permanently. OK.
After the appointment I spoke with the carer outside the building. She was shocked and asked me if I would still take him into my care. There was no hesitation. Of course I would. I had the next few days to absorb all this, do a bit of research and find out who I could get some more information and support from.
None of this mattered a scrap as I prepared for this little one to move into my home and my heart.