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Down South to Dixie!

Buffy's Bio

The Early Years...

I was born in 1976.

At 10 weeks old, I was diagnosed with a condition called "hydrocephalus".

Often known more familiarly to people as "water on the brain", hydrocephalus is a serious and potentially life threatening illness that can result in brain damage and subsequent learning disabilities. I had an operation to insert a "shunt" to drain the fluid from my brain. A shunt is a type of one-way "valve" that opens when it senses pressure, which then releases the pressure within my skull.

The operation went very well and I was allowed home shortly after. I continued to see my consultant on a regular basis though and a health-visitor used to visit home to keep an eye on things.

At one of my check-ups, after the usual "tests", my consultant told my parents that "Mentally, she's fine. There's no evidence that the hydrocephalus has done any lasting damage." Great news!

And things continued well at home. I picked up things very quickly; for example I was able to pick out individual shapes and pictures on a page by pointing to them. This was long before I learnt to talk. I couldn't say the words "ball" or "cat" but I knew what each one was and where on the page it was.

I learned to talk at around 15 months, so in "autism terms" there was no "delay". However, learning to talk was the first sign that something might be wrong. The problem was not the actual "speech" itself, it was who - or in my case "what" - I was choosing to talk to. I made "friends" with most of the objects in our house. I could have a perfectly normal conversation with a lamp, or the TV, or the washing machine...

But I was still very young, I would soon grow out of it...

I attended nursery at the age of 3 and, as I had done at home, I made "friends" with lots of things in the play-room. There were also enemies in the play-room too but not of the human kind.

I was always confident and bright when I went in on a morning. I used to greet my teachers in the loudest possible voice and step over all the other children so I could sit at the front. But I was not so confident with those my own age. I did not make friends with many of them, and they did not want to make friends with me.

It was also while I was at nursery that I started to become aware of my "sensory" 

problems. You can read about how this started and my experiences with the 

nursery kettle here.

Of course, nobody took much notice and there was certainly no mention of 

anything taboo like autism...