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!