When I think of Autism and ADHD I have this vision of two ginormous A's having fisticuffs and imagine that this is what it's like for our 'Bob' internally. The two have some similar traits which often can lead to some confusion in diagnosis, but in 'Bob's case these two stood together like regimented soldiers! Shoulder to shoulder!
Until 'Bob' was actually diagnosed by the child psychiatrist with ADHD, I seriously thought our life was a journey that we were just going to have to walk down without any help. I'll never forget the day after 'Bob's ASD diagnosis, we were given a website address, a 'thanks for coming along' and a virtual shove out the door, we didn't even get a leaflet! We just managed, what else were we to do. Just managing his day, responding to his behaviour, fighting for support, sitting in the bathroom for hours due to his bowel problems, and always wearing trainers because I was never too sure when he was going to scarper, well quite frankly I was so incredibly tired!
There wasn't much fight left, and seriously I wondered how long I could carry on. When my gorgeous little nine year old boy refused to go to school and then announced to Mr Autynary and I he wanted to be dead, I got my second wind. Mortified that my child was talking about suicide, and death, and not wanting to be in this world was upsetting, but even more cutting was the thought that no amount of love we gave him would soothe the pain he quite clearly was experiencing. An internal pain that he had no idea what it was, where it came from, how to get rid of it, or how to describe it!
Petrified that 'Bob's unpredictability and no understanding of consequence would lead him to take his own life, I insisted an immediate appointment with the GP. I know we were lucky and not everyone experiences such a speedy response, but we managed to get a CAMHS appointment within the week. The trigger for 'Bob's anxiety was quickly identified, constant change of teaching staff and a rather dreadful support teacher, and once addressed with school we were able to make necessary changes. Thank god for the summer holidays!
The road was long, and there were lots of assessments, but when the psychiatrist explained that 'Bob' did in fact have ADHD as well as high functioning autism I was confused. 'Bob' wasn't jumping out of windows, or clambering out of moving vehicles, running around in circles constantly, or kicking the place in! How shallow my stereotypical opinion was about ADHD.
Everyone was surprised! It turns out I wasn't the only one with that fixed opinion either. Slowly, over time and with a lot of negotiation and tests, 'Bob' was put on ADHD medication. It wasn't our first choice and we resisted for well over a year before agreeing, but 'Bob' was struggling at school. He couldn't focus, was distracted so easily, quite argumentative and became this tight little coil ready to explode!
I wouldn't go as far as to say it worked miracles because that definitely would be an understatement, but it did what it said on the tin, and more importantly 'Bob' was able to access the national curriculum. He didn't spend days heightened on anxiety or so stressful that literally his and our lives seemed to just stop! We've got used to living with our mate ADHD, we can put him asleep with a little white tablet for most of the day and respect him when he's not.
At the moment ADHD and Autism are marching to the same tune, and 'Bob' understands the importance of his medication (he even reminds me). 'Bob' can identify now when his medication is wearing off and if a situation is not working for him, well, we get to know about it before an emotional tsunami takes place. We don't know what is going to happen; I hear varying stories about ADHD and possible cures. What I do know is ADHD doesn't have us 'Bob' has ADHD in more ways than one!