Might League Moms


Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Importance of Mr Potato Head's Glasses!

‘Where are the glasses? Where ARE they?’  7 words. 7 little words. 7 words that strike terror into the heart of the Henretty household.
I can picture you sitting reading this, screwing your face up and wondering who, other than Mr Potato Head, cares about Mr Potato Head’s glasses?
A little boy, aged 4, that’s who! Our little boy.
Caidan, the 4 year old in question, was diagnosed with Autism when he was 24 months old. We always knew something was a little quirky about him, even when he was only 6 months old. He would stare at his hands in front of his face , or constantly wave them about in front of his eyes. He was never still. He would lie on his back and kick both legs in the air and smack them down on the floor with an almighty clatter, over and over again. It must have hurt, but he never flinched.
When he was 11 months old, we decided we needed to see someone as Caidan had missed all his major milestones. He only learned to roll over at 10 months old and even at 11 months he couldn’t sit up unsupported for any length of time. So, we did the GP thing and were referred to a Paediatrician. The word Autism was never mentioned and never entered our head. But we had a follow up appointment booked for 6 months later and at that appointment I walked in and told her that my son had Autism. In those preceding 6 months, Caidan had regressed in his development. He had stopped being able to eat solid food and he was unable to walk. He had lost his speech and he completely ignored us when we called his name. He had no idea how to play with toys and had no interest in interacting with any of us.
Now, my best friend goes by the name of Google and after much researching on his various ‘symptoms’ the word Autism just kept rearing it’s head, hence me telling the Paediatrician what I did! Anyway, long story short, he was assessed by the specialist team at our Children’s Hospital and was formally diagnosed with Autism on 8th July 2011.
‘But what about the Mr Potato Head glasses??’ I hear you cry!! Well, often, people with Autism can have an attachment to a particular object. It’s like their comfort. It makes them feel safe and secure and without it they get frustrated and anxious. Mr Potato Head’s glasses are Caidan’s ‘comfort.’ He rarely has them out of his hands when at home. I don’t think I have a photograph of him without these little yellow glasses in his hand! We have ‘a pair and a spare’ at home, in the hope that we will not have a glasses emergency. But it has happened. For 3 days last month we hunted the house, high and low, with no sign of either pair and one very unhappy little boy! Thankfully the lovely lady selling a Mr Potato Head on Ebay was very understanding and she posted it out almost immediately. Then another lovely young lady on Facebook, also with autism, found a pair in her bedroom and promptly sent them to Caidan. So we are back to having a pair and a spare again, and somewhere in the house there are 2 pairs of Mr Potato Head glasses, which may or may not be found!! So, you can see why, when we hear those 7 little words, that we all jump up and start searching, hoping against hope that the glasses are under the footstool, or in his bedroom, or in his toybox. Caidan is not the world’s best at remembering where he has thrown something, so he is absolutely no help!
So now you can see the importance of Mr Potato Head’s glasses. If anyone has any that they don’t want, all contributions are gratefully received!!

                                                  Caidan with THOSE glasses!!

As far as Caidan is concerned now, 2 years after his diagnosis, things are hugely different! His speech is fantastic, he can eat the same food as any other 4 year old. I say ‘can’ because he can, but chooses not to, although he eats lots of fruit, he prefers pizza and chocolate buttons above all else!! His Autism still presents and always will present many difficulties. His social skills are pretty poor, his independent skills are not great, but in every way, every day, we see improvements. We are hopeful that in the next couple of years he will be doing many more things for himself. Autism has also given him an amazing memory and capacity for learning. He could recite and recognise the numbers 0-100 by the time he was 2 and a half. He can say and recognise the whole alphabet AND tell you words that begin with each letter. He can name you almost any animal that walks this planet from a picture.
Caidan has Autism but Autism does not have Caidan. It is only a part of who he is. He has his own personality, his likes and dislikes and a very strong will!! He loves cuddles, gives great eye contact, he can now start a game or a conversation, he initiates play and loves to interact with adults especially. In many ways he is just a typical 4 year old boy. In other ways, he is so much more than that! He is our pride and our joy. Our little warrior. And we wouldn’t change a thing about him. Not for anything. 

Except maybe the reliance on those damn Mr Potato Head glasses!

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