Language of love
There is nothing that Joanne Lee, 34, from nottingham, won’t give up to help her sons
I was worried – he’d just turned 2 and still not said a word
Sitting my son Chrissie, 2, on my lap, I opened a story book and pointed at the cartoon animals inside.
‘Look, it’s a dog!’ I said, pointing. ‘Can you say “dog”?’
Chrissie smiled up at me, but he didn’t speak.
‘What about this moo-cow?’ I grinned, giving Chrissie a cuddle. ‘Can you say “C-O-W”?’ Again, my boy was silent. As he clambered down and ran off to play, my stomach churned.
‘I’m worried,’ I told the health visitor when she popped round a few days later. ‘He’s just turned 2 and still not said a word.’
I’d not mentioned it before, knew that kids develop at different rates.
The health visitor looked at my little boy, happily watching Postman Pat.
‘I’d check with your GP,’ she advised.
So a week later, in January 2009, we went to the doctor, were referred to a consultant.
In February 2009, after listening to his symptoms, she broke the news...
‘I think your son might be autistic – and, judging by his difficulty in communicating, his case seems quite severe.’ I prayed the consultant was wrong – but after observing his behaviour, she confirmed it. My boy had autism. Speaking to a specialist, I learned how Chrissie would struggle to understand the world around him for the rest of his life.
He’d need extra help learning to communicate, coping with new environments, even making friends.
It broke my heart. But I had to be strong for my little boy.
A stay-at-home mum, I spent every moment taking Chrissie to speech therapy and playing learning games.
‘Well done!’ I’d cheer when I asked him to pass me an object and he got the right thing.
Sadly, outings to the cinema or holidays abroad were out of the question.
The combination of a new place, noise and people would send Chrissie into a meltdown, squirming and screaming.
Thankfully, there was a specialist school nearby that was able to support him.
But, by age 7, Chrissie still couldn’t speak and I was told it was likely he never would.
A few months later, I fell pregnant again.
I knew there was a chance this baby might be autistic, too, but the love I felt for Chrissie convinced me it was worth the risk.
Finally, in August 2014, Chrissie welcomed his baby brother Ryan into the world with a big hug.
They had such a lovely relationship, Chrissie wanting to help and play whenever he could.
But when Ryan neared his second birthday and still wasn’t speaking, familiar alarm bells started to ring.
In 2016, the doctor confirmed my suspicions – Ryan was autistic too.
‘What am I going to do?’ I cried to my mum Rosalie, 60.
‘I know you’ll do everything you can to give those boys the best life possible,’ she reassured me.
I knew she was right. Like his brother, Ryan couldn’t speak. Instead, they communicated through pictures and signing with their hands.
But neither of them had any difficulty showing their love. Every day, they’d wrap their arms around me. I didn’t
We’d have to travel a long way for treatment