Friday, 25 January 2013

Can you grow out of autism?

There's a lot of stuff in the press lately about children being able to grow out of autism.

Reading these articles, I can't help but think these people they describe only have their toe dipped into the spectrum, and therefore it's easy enough for them to have a normal enough life with therapy and help to be considered normal.

Whenever I think of Emily grown up, it sends shivers down my spine. I really have no idea what to expect, and sometimes assume everything will be fine and normal, as these reports say. Other times, I imagine her in one of those homes that are always in the news for abuse and it just sends my head spinning.

I have to remain of the conviction that a) we're doing everything that is possible for Emily which will b) lead to her having the best life she can. If that life is straddling the line of normal, I'd see that as us winning the lottery, but I count the odds of that outcome just as high.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Holly's paediatric check up - therapy and the MMR jab

Went to the paediatrician today for Holly's 6 month check up and all seemed to be in order, which was nice.

The doctor was very impressed with Holly's progress, her ability to do peek-a-boo, her sensory awareness (turning when she heard a noise, etc.), and general progress.

We discussed the hot topics that Sue and I are thinking about right now - further private intense therapy and the MMR jab debate.

While the NHS won't sanction any more than 6 sessions of additional therapy (£70/hr if your curious), we did discuss that we're prepared to pay for it ourselves after the initial "freebies".

We were told that while intense therapy is good on paper, there's a question about how effective it actually would be. If Holly is going to eventually get to 95% normalcy anyway, the therapy may only serve to get her there quicker and then there's no telling how much quicker. It most likely wouldn't serve to provide any additional help.

Regarding the MMR jab, we were regaled with horror stories of the effects of measles (which just sounded ghastly). While the jab itself may not actually cause autism or other illnesses, it may trigger any dormant neuro  problems that are not yet detected and allow them to manifest themselves.

Sue and I are quite confident that Holly is a lot less "Emily-like" (for lack of a better term... "austismy"?) than Emily was at this age. A lot more engaged, verbal and alert.

Again, with the benefit of hindsight, all those people telling us we were lucky having such a lovely placid baby in Emily didn't know how utterly wrong they actually were.

We're still really skittish about the MMR jab as it's still not 100% certain that we wouldn't be signing Holly up to a lifelong disability if we did go through with it.

More sleeps and convincing required.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Holly's movements

Random Holly shot.
Over the last couple of weeks or so, some of Holly's movements have become a bit more erratic. When sitting up, she's pushing back and her "spakky" eye (apparently called a "squint") is more pronounced than it has been for a while.

We're not sure if this is down to natural forces or a side-effect of her being weaned off her anti-seizure medication topiramate.

She seems to be going through a rough bout of teething again, and these actions could be a result of that, OR they could be some underlying physical issue that was masked by the meds.

She doesn't push back all the time, and it could be an effort to get out of a situation she doesn't want to be in (like sitting up? or having a really sore mouth?). It really is too soon to tell at this point.

We're just trying to collate some further information at this point before raising any alarm bells, but at the end of the day I don't want my one year old child dependent on ANY medication for any longer than is necessary.

We had such high hopes the medication had become redundant (she's due to come off them this week), it would knock the wind out of our sails a bit to discover the opposite is true.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

2012 in Review

It's been quite the 366 days for our family this year. Utterly worthy of noting down for reference in years to come.

Q1 - Jan - March

This was our most tumultuous time. We had brought Holly home from the hospital days before 2012 began, and it was a year sold to us that would be unrivalled - Jubilees, Olympics - Britain would never have it so good.

Come February, we'd received the news we didn't want to receive, but really knew was coming - Emily got her Autism diagnosis. Close went the door with the small chance that it was really a learning difficulty, and we struggled to come to terms with our first born dealing with a life long condition.
Our little girl in ICU.

March saw Holly have a cardiac arrest and die for around 20 minutes. The vision of a blue, lifeless 10 week old child in my arms sputtering her last breath, mixed with blood is one I will never be able shake - as much as I try.

We spent a month in various hospitals - including a very tense week in ICU at Evelina Children's hospital at St. Thomas', near Westminster.

March also saw Emily turn 4, celebrating near Holly's hospital with all four grandparents in tow. Probably the first and only time this will ever happen. Speaks volumes of the "global community" these days.

Q2 - April - June

Emily as flower girl at Dave and
Amanda's wedding
Mere days out of the hospital and still on the rocky road to recovery, we all bundled over the sea to Northern Ireland for an Easter holiday - complete with local hospital and doctor details and medication for Holly.

As Holly's condition improved, the weather went in the other direction and we had quite a wet trip of it. A weather phenomenon that we're still experiencing in January 2013.

June found us in sunnier climes as we flew to Spain to celebrate the wedding of our friends Amanda and Dave. Not yet 6 months old and Holly is already a Euro-traveller! Emily was even flower girl for the happy couple.

Q3 - July - September

Sue and I celebrated our 40th birthdays during Q3 of 2012. Momentous occasions for both of us. In August, Sue took both the girls to Australia for three weeks to celebrate PROPERLY. Of course, the trips down and back were not without their peril, but they made it back and Holly added another 10,000 miles to her already impressive first year haul.

Emily in her new school outfit.
September also saw us move into our new house, complete with sizeable girl's bedroom. Holly, for the time being, would reside in Sue and my bedroom - mainly so we can keep an eye on her, but also so she doesn't wake Emily up at 5am.

Mid-September saw Emily start big girl school. We got her into the Rainbows Opportunity Base (that's fancy talk for "Autism special needs school") at Green Wrythe Primary School near St. Helier's Hospital.

Thankfully, as it's quite far away, we also managed to maintain the transport she had for Dragonflies, complete with the same escort - Claire!

Q4 - October - December

Sue's maternity leave ended during this quarter, and she went back to work three days a week. The other two were taken up almost exclusively with medical appointments for one or both of the kids.

Holly and Em had their Canadian grandparents come over and spend Christmas. Their first UK Christmas since 1974. They DID reckon a few things had changed since then - including the abundance of Christmas lights everywhere.