Ryan is a typical three and a half year old boy. He runs around the house dragging a well chewed teddy bear behind him. He fights with, and screams at his sister, who is 15 months his senior. He jumps up and dances around when Yo Gabba Gabba comes on the TV.
Ryan also doesn't talk. His recognisable vocabulary comprises of 'Dada, Mama, Papa and Joojoo'. That is almost one word for each of his years. We know he understands as many words as the average boy his age. He listens, comprehends and does what is asked of him. We see and feel his frustration at not being able to communicate because we have the same frustrations.
When he wants something it becomes a trial and error pointing game hindered by the fact that he does not nod his head to say yes. Ryan shakes his head to indicate both yes and no, the only difference is the smile he gives when he shakes his head for yes. These subtle visual clues are the key to communicating and he is becoming more adept at displaying them, as we as parents have improved at recognising them.
Ryan has not yet been diagnosed as autistic, and until the day that he is, I remain hopeful that it a case of him being behind with his development. I don't want my son to be autistic. I want a normal little boy. 9 out of 10 little boys don't have autism, so why should Ryan be the 1 in 10?
I am worried for Ryan's future. I was 33 when Ryan was born and will be 51 when he turns 18, the age of majority. The age when he becomes an adult. But will my little boy be an adult on his 18th birthday? My biggest concern revolves around what happens when I am no longer there for him. Who will look after my little boy when I am gone? That thought scares me more than anything else in this world possibly could.
That day, I trust, is a long way from today. Today is where it's at, and today Ryan gave me as much love as any other three year old boy gives his Dad. Ryan is my son and I am proud of him.