Let me tell you a bit about our boy and his journey. He was born at 40 weeks after a textbook pregnancy. We conceived him straight away and his birth was quick, natural, and I did it all in four hours flat without pain relief. I was literally the proudest woman on earth and when I met our 8lb 10oz bundle of joy, I could’ve literally popped I was so happy. In fact I cried happy tears for about three weeks afterwards – I have never felt love like it. He was a happy baby and fed well and slept through at three weeks old (which is totally ridiculous given the problems with sleep he was to develop later in his life!). I know others struggle in those first months, but in absolute honesty they were the happiest of my life – I really felt that this was what I was born to do. I know how smug this all must sound, but that was truthfully how I felt.
He breast fed well and reached all his physical milestones on time, or even earlier. He was an extremely attractive baby and was born with his trademark mop of blond hair. Things were all going great guns until his peers started to develop language at 18-24 months. He just never seemed to want to communicate through speech. It didn’t really worry me until his two year check with the Health Visitor. She put him on recall because of his lack of language and also because he was not interested in the building blocks or jigsaw puzzles she had brought. He was always a book worm and loved nothing better than sitting with his huge pile of books and studying them in great detail. I really didn’t think anything of it – I just thought he was going to love books like his dad.
The weeks and months passed by and still no words emerged. He did actually start to produce a couple of animal noises, as toddlers do, but this was very short lived. He started to go to a local play group, which he seemed to enjoy. But still no language appeared. Then after playgroup one day, the leader mentioned to me that she was quite concerned about his lack of speech. I was hurt initially, but I know deep down that it was the best thing that she could have done, and because of her early intervention we were able to start to look into it. And for this I will always be grateful to her.
The Health Visitor did more checks and referred him through to speech and language therapy and eventually to a paediatrician. The deep seated sick feeling that perhaps my beautiful boy was not ‘normal’ was gradually rising up in my belly each day. He had several long assessments at a Childhood Development Centre. Basically a team of professionals would watch him play, whilst noting things down on their clipboards. It was hideous and I hated every minute. They were all lovely, kind and understanding but I slowly felt that I was being sent somewhere I really didn’t want to go – the Special Needs Jungle.