Behind the Chicken: IRL & the Battlechicken

Have you missed me so far this month while I’ve been pounding out my novel for National Novel Writing Month? (The only correct answer here is “of course!”) I’ve missed you too, if it makes you feel better.

I don’t often bring my personal life to WoW-related stuff (Twitter being a mild exception…), but in this case my personal life is likely to change the frequency and consistency of Tastes Like Battle Chicken, so I think it’s relevant.

Some of you know that I have two children: a girl in kindergarten and a 2 1/2-year-old son. Corny or not, they’re my little blessings; big things in small packages and all that.

Back in February of this year, our life changed dramatically when we stopped making excuses for our son’s developmental delays, talked to our family doctor, and hit up books and websites for information. It didn’t take us long to realize that our son identified with many of the characteristics of autism.

Autism diagnosis is no simple thing, however. There’s no blood test for it, no X-rays to be done, no CAT scans–Autism is diagnosed by observation of behavior. In order to find out exactly what we were dealing with, we needed to see a team of professionals, and thankfully our state has the resources to make that happen. Unfortunately, it comes with an extremely long waiting list (completely understandable now that I know what all goes into the assessment).

While we waited the 9 months it would take to get our appointment, my son was determined eligible for early intervention services through the state, and began having weekly meetings with an Early Interventionist (our therapy coordinator), a speech therapist, and later, an occupational therapist.

The change in him was remarkable. Within months of finally settling into a good therapy team, we started getting imitation and language. A month ago, he said “Mama” for the very first time (yes, I blubbered; wouldn’t you?).

We fretted over what would come next. If he wasn’t diagnosed with a developmental disorder by the time he turned three, the therapies would be whisked away, and after seeing how far he had come, I didn’t want that to happen.

Our appointment was yesterday (11/17), and it actually went wonderfully. The team was professional but kind, critical but compassionate, serious but lighthearted, and 100% knowledgeable in their field. They asked us a million questions (yes, that’s an accurate estimate!) and played with my son, noting his reactions or lack of, the way he interacted with them and with us, and the way he played. They watched a 20-minute video I put together with clips of my son in different environments and with different people. I left them with a folder full of evaluations and therapy notes from the past 9 months, and then we left.

Four hours later we sat nervously, my husband and I pretending we weren’t waiting on pins and needles for the phone to ring. It finally did, and my heart started racing as my husband put the phone on speaker.

We have concluded that your son is indeed autistic. 6 of the 12 markers are required for a diagnosis, and he exhibited 7.

My heart shattered. Wondering, believing, thinking that your child is autistic is, as I found out, completely different from knowing it. At the same time, relief flooded me: my son will get the help he needs. His therapies will continue and he’ll get new ones tailored to his needs.

There was one more thing the woman said: He’s full of potential. I’m clinging to those words because I can look in my son’s eyes and know that it’s true. He’s so full, he’s bursting at the seams, potential leaking out all over the place. He’s smart as can be, and if we tailor our teaching to his way of learning, there will be no holding this kid back.

Very soon, I hope, he will begin receiving intensive behavior therapy, up to 4 hours a day 5 days a week. I don’t know yet exactly how this will effect my time to blog, but I can reasonably assume that it’s going to diminish it more than it has already, and there may come a time in the next six months when TLBC turns the lights off and boards up the windows.

Before that even becomes a consideration, I want to say this: I love this community. The WoW bloggers and those of you on Twitter have been a lifeline of sorts to me: a source of (mostly) adult conversation when I felt alone, a laugh when I needed to smile, a virtual hug when I needed a little extra support. Thank you seems inadequate, but that’s all I’ve got, so THANK YOU!

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Behind the Chicken: IRL & the Battlechicken

  1. All the best to you and your family, Ambermist. It sounds like the past while has been pretty tough for you all. I’m glad that you’ll have the support needed for your son. He looks like a sweetie. :)

    • battlechicken

      Thanks, Vidyala! He really is the sweetest little boy in the world, and I’m not just saying that because I’m his mom. (Well, maybe a little. :-P)

  2. Adam

    As a heads up, this post is unreadable via RSS because the text font is white (or very close to white)

  3. Ralod

    I am happy to see the kiddo is going to get the help he needs. I am sure he will excel at it with no problems:) But don’t worry about the wow peoples, no matter what happens we will be here for ya when you needs us :) Just like you were there for us yesterday when we needed cyn killed in goldshire, right? :)

    • battlechicken

      Thanks Dolar. :-)

      I still didn’t get the chance to kill old Cynderblock; I think that needs to be made priority number one, here. I mean, you can’t dangle that in front of me and expect me not to chase it!

  4. Your son is absolutely -adorable-… I can totally understand your heart breaking when they told you that he was autistic, but at the same time, like you said, you can get the help you need and that’s definitely important.. And you definitely SHOULD hang onto the words “He’s full of potential”… that’s not true with all autistic kids (and i’m sure if you’ve done all the research you said you have, then you know that). The fact that he responded so quickly to his early interventionist therapy is really a great sign overall. Best of luck to you and your family, and you know we’ll always be here for ya.

    • battlechicken

      Thanks Achloryn. :-) Yeah, he’s so bright and he’s also super good natured most of the time. He babbles a lot and imitates well; I can’t wait for him to talk to us–there’s so many times I just wish I could crawl in his mind and see things the way he does. One day he’ll be able to tell me, though. There’s a little thinker in there just waiting for the floodgates of communication to open.

  5. Jal

    Good heavens, good luck. It’s always interesting when blog authors I enjoy show what’s behind the, um, chicken. Seems like Lissanna did this recently with some bizarre push back. Which is just to say I appreciate your opening this to your readership & wish you all the best.

    But I’ll still be brave enough to ask… Where’s the link to your NaNoWriMo count?! ;^)

  6. The diagnosis is a mixed blessing. It allows the therapy to continue, which is really great. But it’s also something where you don’t want to let it influence your own behavior unduly – your son is just as wonderful as he was before the diagnosis, just as full of promise.

    Man, I don’t think I knew how hard this parenting gig would be before I did it. Lots of hugs to you and UK and your kids. It will all work out for the best in the end.

    • battlechicken

      That’s what I reminded myself, and it was brought home when he woke up from his nap: he’s still the same happy, sweet boy he was a week ago, just now we have a name for the things he struggles with and a way to help him.

      I don’t think ANYONE goes into parenting having half the clue they think they do; I know I didn’t!

      • Thank you for your post. It may be that my family is facing a similar situation – we don’t know yet. Thank you for sharing – because sometimes it is so easy to feel alone, frustrated and helpless in front of your child, who does not seem to be doing things the way his peers do.

    • battlechicken

      I know all too well that feeling. Helpless, isolated, frustrated. You know you need to do something but you don’t always know what.

      Hang in there! There are as many moments of elation, success, and pride as there are frustration and loneliness. Feel free to send me an email if you ever just need someone to talk to about it; my virtual door is always open. :-)

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