Monday, 30 March 2015
His face is looking very full right now, even though his legs and body seem to have gotten longer. He fills out before he fills up, so I know that right before a growth spur the will look very solid and husky.
I mentioned something briefly before about him being diagnosed with ASD (autism) in November. It's been a long, complex road, often thrown into doubt. He met all his milestones as a baby and was always affectionate and interactive. His speech seemed to be developing, and though he was mostly mute by the age of three, I'd heard from a lot of parents that boys his age don't start talking until 3 or even 4 years of age. Same with potty training.
Despite all of this, I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that something was off. It came and went, of course. Some days, I was soothed by the day care providers at the day care we both attended (he to school, me to work). They would shake their heads and tell me nothing was wrong with him and not to worry so much; that he would develop in his own time; I even got the occasional impression from certain people that I wasn't being a very supportive mother by just assuming something could possibly be wrong with him; as if I weren't "accepting" him for who he was and that thinking some things about him were "off" made me a bad(ish) parent.
Hands down, the most destructive thing for us were the people who, meaning well, told us definiteively there was nothing wrong with him. Because with autism, early intervention is so, so important.
It's hard to explain exactly what was off about Afon. It was normal things, but things that were pushed to the extreme of normal. Like, he colored on the walls. Okay, so do lots of children. But I mean, he. Colored. On. The. Walls. It was a constant thing, day and night, coloring on furniture, clothing, body, cabinets, floor, blankets, windows. And no amount of correction or chastisement dissuaded him. Or his bull-headedness about getting into things. It was a constant intervention for me to keep him from breaking things. And as you can imagine, it's hard to keep a 24 hour surveillance on a curious toddler, and I was pretty darn savvy about household safety. Locks on the doors, cabinets, drawers, and refrigerator. But he still managed, and he was never gentle. It's like he didn't know how to handle objects appropriately. At all.
There were a whole handful of things I'm probably forgetting that, by themselves, are just quirks and normal kid things--but altogether, paired with the genes of a parent diagnosed with Asperger's making inheritance a strong possibility, and an increase in uncontrollable behavior (pulling off diapers and using the toilet wherever he stood in the house, refusal to wear clothes without total meltdowns, and spontaneously ripping pages from books he had contentedly been reading moments earlier), we knew we had to get help.
So I talked to the doctor, but we are on government health insurance, and that always takes a long time. It's like, their thing. So my grandmother offered to pay for us to go to a private psychiatrist, a pretty, friendly woman who has been in the field of autism for 25 years. Needless to say, she nailed him as ASD, after a thorough and comprehensive three-stage evaluation.
With an official diagnosis, we've been able to pursue therapy and treatment, but it doesn't happen overnight. All of this happened right on the cusp of Christmas, and you know that government offices don't function well normally. There was a lot of e-mailing back and forth, calling and leaving voice messages, waiting out the weekend because of course we weren't contacted until Friday, trying to find missing paperwork, etc.
As we speak, we've fallen into a therapy black hole; the places that take Medicaid are not currently accepting any new clients and/or are impossible to get hold of (think, number disconnected or voice mailbox full). But he has been approved by the county, so we know we will be able to put him into a special needs class, as soon as that paperwork (finally) goes through.
And you know, he is improving, on his own. It just probably would have saved us a lot of frustration if we had chased after these doubts head on to begin with.
If you think your child might have autism, or have any concern for him in any way, don't hesitate to get him checked. In the end, you are your child's parent, and you know what is best for him, no one else. Don't underestimate the power of instinct, nor the peace that comes with knowing for sure.