Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum

Nicki and Mark - Interview 14

Age at interview: 32

Brief outline: Nicki and Mark's son, Tyler, was diagnosed with autism when he was four years old. He attends a special school and they are delighted with his progress.

Background: Nicki, a local authority employee, and Mark, a full time carer, have two children; Tyler aged six and Emma aged five. Ethnic background/nationality: White British

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Nicki and Mark have two children; Tyler aged 6 and Emma aged 5.  Tyler was born after a difficult birth and was slow to develop speech.  His parents had some concerns about his development and asked the health visitor about it but their concerns were not taken seriously until he started playschool.  The staff there suggested he might be exhibiting autistic traits and when he was four, autism was diagnosed.

Nicki and Mark take a hands-on approach with Tyler’s schooling; they were very vocal about the support they thought he needed and the type of school he should attend.  He is now settled in a special school and they are delighted with his development.

Nicki had difficulty accepting the diagnosis for approximately eighteen months and dealt with this by reading about autism, by actively seeking support for Tyler and by talking about his diagnosis with others.  She jointly co-ordinates a local parent support group and suggests that while it may seem bleak at first, things do get better and she is very optimistic about Tyler’s future.
Tyler and his sister are very close and have an excellent relationship.  The main issue for Nicki and Mark is dealing with other people when they go out to various places.  They are happy with their experiences with health and education professionals, but the reactions of other people make it difficult to take Tyler to places such as the cinema or shopping. 

Nicki's Poem

“We think it’s a boy”
they said at the scan
and from that day to this
you were my little man.

Then 2 days before
The date you were due
After three days of labour
You were born – I loved you.

You were perfect to me
With a headful of hair
And those twinkly eyes
That gazed into my stare.

Each milestone came
You hit every one.
Walked before a year
My amazing son.

But speech wasn’t good
Something’s askew
Too young to tell
Was Doctors view.

At 3 you started pre-school
A ‘different’ boy is seemed
Time to undergo some tests
To find out what it means

Suddenly support came
From every way it could
Special Groups on Fridays
The progress made was good.

More tests for diagnosis,
My son a ‘subject’ now.
I knew what name was coming
But I ignored it anyhow.

But there it was just weeks ago
In black ink print on white
My baby is autistic
I knew I had been right.

But I wasn’t ready to hear it
And crumbled like a cake
It’s a mis-diagnosis
They’ve made a big mistake.

Was it me?  Or MMR?
Or a difficult birth to blame
Wherever the fault lays for this,
the outcome’s still the same.

So now I am accepting
That his behaviour has a name.
He’s still my little baby
No-one is to blame.

There’s a reason why he screams out loud
Or pushes me aside
But every day each thing he learns
Fills my heart with Pride.

He still looks into my eyes sometimes
and I fall into his gaze
I remember how, when he was born,
he set my heart ablaze.

The fire burns as strongly now
as it did when he was new.
But now I know the love I have
no ‘illness’ can undo.


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