Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum

Sandy - Interview 1

Age at interview: 38

Brief outline: Sandy's older son, Joseph, aged 8, was diagnosed with autism one month before his second birthday. Her younger son, Adam, aged 6, was diagnosed with autism aged eighteen months. Both boys attend a special school which they enjoy.

Background: Sandy, 38, lives with her two sons and is a full time carer. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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Sandy lives with her two sons, Joseph aged 8 and Adam aged 6.  She has recently separated from her husband.  Sandy describes Joseph as the perfect baby who was never any bother at all. She vaguely suspected something may have been wrong because he walked late and was not talking by the age of 18 months.  The health visitor became concerned about the lack of speech and referred him to a paediatrician who diagnosed autism at 23 months.  Sandy had suspected autism and felt that at least they knew what they were dealing with. 

Adam was very different; he was very sociable and wanted constant attention.  At 18 months Sandy noticed him twisting a pencil in a similar way to Joseph at that age and became concerned that he could also be autistic.  She contacted the paediatrician directly and found out within a couple of weeks that he was autistic too.  Sandy found this very difficult to deal with because she had been so sure that Adam was a ‘normal little boy’.  She felt very low for six months after the diagnosis.

Generally Sandy is very positive about her sons and says that while there are challenges, there are also considerable rewards.  She and her husband attended two short residential courses which helped them to understand how their children experience the world and they have set up a playroom in their house for the boys to have one to one therapy with volunteers.  It has been difficult to use this room very effectively, however, because there are two children.  She has learnt various techniques to help manage some of the boys’ behaviours including brushing, communication techniques and holding. 

Both sons attend a local special school and Sandy has a good support network with a local group for parents with disabled children, family and friends.  She has made her house ‘autism proof’ by removing pictures and ornaments and keeps a fridge in her room which has a lock.  She worries about the future for the boys and would like some advice on how to deal with issues of puberty.


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