When my wife was pregnant with our second child we often heard how ‘no two children are ever the same’ and various stories about younger siblings. Our first son (who I shall call A) was ‘an easy baby’ (not my words). I almost expected child number two to be more difficult. Certainly having two would be more tiring, I figured. I also expected that anything I thought I’d learnt as a parent might well be unlearnt as we faced a new individual, with their own unique character, needs and behaviour. I certainly didn’t feel like any sort of expert just because I’d already raised a child into infancy.
In fact, B was not particularly difficult or challenging. He slept less well than his brother and, as expected, it was a tiring experience. My wife struggled a bit at times but overall it was fine. B was very much a planned baby: his brother was the right age we felt and we very much wanted him to have sibling(s).
As B got older we began to feel he was more ‘lively’ and mischievous than his brother. He was ‘into everything’ and you took your eyes off him at your peril! He was harder work but not a concern. There was nothing about our experience with him that seemed beyond ‘the norm’, whatever that means.
About 12 months ago we started to become concerned about some of B’s habits and mannerisms and, in particular, his slow speech development. His brother’s speech had been slow getting started but he was now very articulate and a chatterbox. As such, we felt B was following a similar path.
When B moved to a new nursery we raised concerns about his speech and it was agreed to monitor his progress. Around the same time, B was attending another school-based nursery for a couple of mornings a week. It was here that concerns were first raised about B’s lack of social skills, difficulty with the nursery routines and his tantrums. As I recall, they did some sort of assessment that showed he was quite a way behind in his development, in all but his numeracy and literacy skills, which were way ahead. This was when we started hearing the word ‘referral’ and began the process we are now involved in…