A FATHER’S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

Life is wonderful, but challenging, all at the same time.

 I remember it like yesterday; the first time I held Justin in my arms...this was some fourteen and a half years ago. 

A FATHER’S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

Life is wonderful, but challenging, all at the same time.

I remember it like yesterday; the first time I held Justin in my arms...this was some fourteen and a half years ago.  I was in the waiting room at the Princess Margaret Hospital anticipating the birth of our first child. My wife, Denise and I had found out some time before that we would have a son and, like every young couple, it was an exciting time for us.

It was a particularly proud time for me - you know how men are with sons.  Justin was a huge baby - eleven pounds, six and a half ounces at birth!  I was ecstatic and a champion among men for many weeks. Denise and I had no idea what we would be facing in a few years.  It would change our lives forever.  Justin’s growth was normal for the first eighteen months, at least as far as we could tell.

He looked normal.  He was healthy, and all of the usual childhood checks found him to be normal physically.  He crept and then walked at ten months, and appeared to be just a normal toddler - at least to the inexperienced observer.  Whatever signs there were of unusual behaviour were either overlooked or just considered peculiar to him.  Justin walked on his toes, flapped his hands, crossed his eyes and even would spin around until he became dizzy.  He was our first and so we were not able to compare his development with another child in the family.  You see, at the time ‘autism’ was neither a part of our experience or vocabulary; that would not come until some time later.

At eighteen months, Denise and I became concerned when Justin was not speaking and soon afterward, the investigation began.  I remember the first time we heard the word “autism” mentioned; it meant very little to us.  Autism is in fact, a developmental disorder that affects an individual’s ability to communicate, use language and interact with others.  When we fully realized what this disorder meant, it was quite frankly unbelievable.  You see, as far as we were aware, there was nobody in either of our family histories with this disorder and besides, he looked normal.  How could this happen to us?  We were in denial.  It was only after the investigation that we noticed his lack of eye contact, unrealistic fears and his obsession with water.      

According to the doctors, his social skills and communication skills were underdeveloped and all of his peculiar behaviours at ten months were early signs of autism.  Justin was identified as moderately autistic or perhaps what some may describe as medium-function autistic.

I believe at the time, the statistics were that one in every ten thousand children were reported to have autism.  Today the number is increasing more rapidly where one in every one hundred and fifty children is autistic and it is seen more in boys than girls.

The early times were very stressful for us because here was a child that we loved but could not reach at a meaningful level.  He was locked in his own private world.

Adapted from: “A Father’s Unconditional Love”

The Nassau Guardian

June 16 , 2008

“Life is wonderful but challenging.”

Short Answer Questions

9.  Explain the above quote in your own words. [2]

10. Explain the meaning of the following words as they are used in the passage. 

      (a) ecstatic   (line 8)      

      (c)  concerned   (line 20) [2]

11. Identify TWO areas of a child’s development which, according to the passage, are affected by autism. [2]

12. In the table below, list signs which showed that Justin was autistic.  You should list TWO signs before the investigation and TWO signs after the investigation.

SIGNS BEFORE THE INVESTIGATION

SIGNS AFTER THE INVESTIGATION  [4]

13.] Give TWO reasons why Justin’s parents were surprised when they discovered that he had autism.

[2]

 

Total marks = 12