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Please note that for privacy, we have used a stock photo for the post.


We were pregnant with our first child and due in 2009. The pregnancy was healthy and going well. I had to be induced as my due date had passed, and ended up with an emergency c- section due to heart rate issues and our first child, a son, Aidan, was born. All was well, or so we thought, in infancy. Being a parent for the first time is such a huge learning curve that you don’t always know what is typical and what isn’t. The one thing we did notice early on was that in Aidan’s first first year of life, he had fairly frequent and severe tantrums/meltdowns and it always seemed to take a very long time to settle him down. As new parents we didn’t think into it too much or act on it.


At Aidan’s 1 year immunizations with Public Health, they were concerned about his speech so we were referred to RUH for speech therapy. He also had multiple ear infections before age 2, I lost count at 18 infections. He had his first of three sets of ear tubes placed at age 2. We followed Speech Therapy at RUH for 2 years when they had concerns about his communication and eye contact. We were referred to the Alvin Buckwold Child Development Program for Occupational and Speech therapy while awaiting an Autism assessment. He continued with some unique and narrow interests, social communication and behaviour issues at daycare, and even had psychology assess him in a daycare setting. His verbal speech was severely delayed until close to age 4. At age 6 and while in Kindergarten, Aidan had his Autism assessment where things looked okay. He was put in the grey area for ADHD but did not leave with either a diagnosis of ADHD or Autism. We no longer met the mandate for therapy at ABCDP and therapy was discontinued.


In Grade 1 at age 7 his teacher expressed concerns about his focus in class. We had a referral sent to Child and Youth Psychiatry to have an ADHD assessment done. After waiting for a year, we were able to see a physician whom diagnosed him with ADHD and started him on medication.


We were nervous to start medication, but agreed to try, and quickly noticed a difference and positive change with his focus. We also had a referral made through the education system for a Psychoeducational Assessment.

All went fairly smoothly until grade 4 when he was having a lot of trouble in math, and not grasping concepts and routinely not passing his assignments and exams. We had already waited 3 years for the PsychEd assessment and knew in our gut that something was up.


We decided to privately seek an assessment at LDAS where he was diagnosed with a Learning Disability in math, red flagged for a LD in comprehension with reading, and also red flagged for Anxiety. This diagnosis helped him attain extra help with an EA in school, and we privately also paid for tutoring twice/week to help him learn and understand concepts of math and other schoolwork.


In late grade 6 and into grade 7 things really took a turn and things spiralled downwards. He asked in the fall of grade 7 if he can see a counsellor, so of course we wanted to support him and found a psychologist that he still sees today. It came out that he was being bullied (mentally) pretty severely in school by a few classmates; they were able to say things to really get to him. He kept things to himself and never spoke about it until he was at his breaking point where we saw the start of a lot of emotional meltdowns. The bullies really wore down his self esteem and created a heap of anxiety and depression, to the point that he was questioning whether life would be better without him. He was in a really dark place. We quickly booked in with our family physician and she diagnosed him with Anxiety and Depression and we started new medication to try to help, as well as referred him again to Child & Youth Psychiatry, which unfortunately has a 2-3 year wait time. We also had the admin of the school involved to help with the bully situation at school, which they did end up putting a stop to near the end of the school year.”


Also during that grade 7 year we started to get messages from the school about behaviour issues that increased in frequency throughout the school year. When we thought about the behaviours that had been brought to our attention, it seemed like they were sensory related. Remember the meltdowns at age 1? This seemed similar only in a grown-up format and often fuelled by overstimulation. At one follow-up doctor appointment, I questioned Autism again. She looked back at the notes and did say that he had multiple diagnoses since his first assessment at age 6 and agreed to refer him again to ABCDP. As usual, the wait time was long, about 1.5-2.5 years. We determined that we would need answers by mid-grade 8 so we can plan appropriately for high school. We were fortunate enough to have great private insurance at the time and decided to have him assessed privately.


We only waited 3 months for assessment and started testing in September/October 2023. Randomly, we ended up having the same psychologist as the first assessment. After testing it was determined that Aidan did meet the criteria for a diagnosis of Autism. She still noted high levels of Anxiety and Depression through that assessment as well. She said that when comparing his first assessment to the new one, the therapy he received at an early age “made him look good on paper,” as well as the diagnosis criteria had changed, now allowing a diagnosis of both ADHD and ASD together, where previously, they had to pick the best-fitting diagnosis.


We are actively still working on therapy with his psychologist, medication changes with his family physician and also Pediatrician, and awaiting an appointment with Child and Youth Psychiatry. We have not yet found our “sweet spot” with medications, and some days are still quite dark, but we won’t give up. He is very much looking forward to high school and a fresh start.


It always felt like we were missing something and I think we finally have figured it out now. It has been helpful knowing what we are dealing with, even if he was diagnosed later in life with ASD. With that being said, it is frustrating knowing he has missed out on many elementary years of therapy and also funding for things that could have helped him in those early years. If I can give any words of advice, keep advocating and pushing if you think something is not right, and also, remember to be kind to one another. Thanks for reading our story.

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