Saturday, November 6, 2010

I'm going to make a confession tonight. There was a point about 18 months - 2 years ago when I actually allowed myself to think "If he sat in a corner rocking back and forth and didn't talk parts of this would be so much easier." I still feel horrible for those five minutes I spent thinking that way. So many parents would trade everything they have for a child like my 11 year old! 

At that point he had just started receiving services after we finally got an educational diagnosis. God bless the autism consultant that patiently walked with me through the behavioral and academic challenges that were daily events. There are people who owe their lives to her, because I was on a Mommy warpath and was done playing nice! Not to mention that I'd be checked into the Rubber Ramada with a pretty jacket that lets me hug myself if she weren't around to offer friendship, kindness, support and remind me of all the real progress she's seen in the last two years. 

Flash forward to today. My littlest man had his first appointment with our pediatric neurologist in order to be medically diagnosed as having an ASD. (He was evaluated by the school corp. in March of 2010 and received an educational diagnosis.) This appointment didn't go as planned - in fact, I left shocked and a little angry. My two oldest have been seeing him regularly since 2002 and 2004 and I've always sung this doc's praises so today threw me for a major loop.

After briefly looking at baby boy's school evaluations and talking to me for a few minutes, he decided that neuro-psych testing is necessary because my son "talks too well, has a high IQ and doesn't flap or spin". I was reeling! It isn't that I'm opposed to more testing but that the doc was so uninformed. He actually said, "it could be Asperger's but not an ASD." HELLO!! Asperger's IS an ASD. That's why it's called a spectrum disorder Mr. Doctor. I have accepted that I will always have people say things like "Oh, I didn't know kids with autism could talk". Or "Autism spectrum, really? He seems so smart!"  I just never imagined I'd have to explain ASD's to a pediatric neurologist....

So, tonight you all get a little of me on my soap box giving the What Is An ASD infomercial:

1. Autism is a SPECTRUM disorder - by definition, every person will behave, react to stimuli and be socially adept at VARYING levels. Think of it like a line with point A being the child you see in the Lifetime movie of the week and point Z being the child who talks very well, gets A's in school but can't make friends and "doesn't get it" when it comes to social interactions.

2. Typically, children with an ASD are very smart! I know one child who can disassemble and reassemble nearly any electronic device on the market and he's 7. He uses words I have to look up in engineering books! Don't make the mistake of thinking people on the spectrum aren't smart - or you'll end up looking not very smart yourself.

3. Early intervention is of supreme importance. I know this firsthand, because my little man has gotten the benefit of everything I learned while navigating the path with his older brother. I saw the signs early and knew what I was seeing. He had the opportunity to attend a developmental pre-k program and is now in a wonderful program for children with developmental delays at his public elementary school. You wouldn't ignore a fever that lasted for a month, don't ignore the signs and symptoms of a developmental delay. For great information on early warning signs check out

4. People, especially children, who have an ASD want to make friends and fit in socially, but they don't know how. You want to know the best, easiest way to help a child who has autism? Teach YOUR child(ren) that everyone is to be treated with kindness and respect, that being different is okay, that watching someone being teased and picked on but doing nothing is the same thing as being a bully.

That ends my soap box sermon for the night ;) I've already got ideas for tomorrow's post, and I promise, it'll be stuff that leaves you smiling and laughing! 

1 comment:

  1. LeeAnne, I agree with you 100%! BUT, in the newest edition of the DSM, Asperger's has a separate classification, not ASD. This has been hotly debated within the psych. community for years. I vehemently disagree with this. AS is autism! Are you seeking a Dx or testing?


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