No joke you guys, 2013 is kicking my ass. First, the plague of 2012 continued with The Munchkin having an ear ache that lasted the entire month of January. Then, we had some extended family drama that I’m not going to get into. Also, we’ve been trying to refinance the mortgage on our house in Rochester since like November and that still hasn’t been settled. In addition to that, we’re shopping for a minivan, and I’m not dealing with the soccer-mom-mobile thing well. Then, on Friday, John found out that because of a timeline confusion/change or something, our move date to Fort Jackson, SC has been moved up to three weeks from now. Oh yeah, and one more thing…
The Munchkin was diagnosed with autism.
Guess which one is affecting me the most? We went to Rochester the weekend before last to get The Bean baptized (I’ll post about that soon!) and so that The Munchkin could get reevaluated by a developmental pediatrician. I mentioned him needing to be reevaluated in my last speech therapy update, and our appointment finally came.
Truth be told, it went as expected. To his credit, The Munchkin did really well. The appointment was at 8:30 in the morning, and I was afraid that he wouldn’t respond to anything because he was tired, but he slept soundly the night before and had no problems getting up. He sat down when the pediatrician wanted to play, and responded to most of her cues; although non-verbally most of the time.
At the end of the evaluation, we were given a big packet of info and a full report of his diagnosis. She decided that The Munchkin has an autistic spectrum disorder because of:
- his difficulty making eye contact during social interactions
- a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment/interests/achievements/etc with other people
- failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to his developmental level
- difficulty with the give-and-take of social interactions
- language delay
- a repetitive/unusual use of language
- less than expected level of make believe
- preoccupation with very specific interest or hobby (letters & numbers)
- an apparently inflexible adherence to specific/nonfunctional routines or rituals (doors must be closed, books should be in a big pile on the floor…)
Most of these didn’t come as a surprise. I mean, we know our son. We knew he didn’t make eye contact enough, and that he probably should play with kids more/differently than he does. I feel bad that he got points off for not playing with a baby doll during the make believe portion of the evaluation because he doesn’t actually have a baby doll. John didn’t want me to get him one, and his mom said that letting The Munchkin play with a doll would make him “weird.” It wasn’t important enough to me to fight it, and he just fed his Brobee doll or something instead. I figured that was close enough. I wonder if she had a monster for him to feed if he would have done it… I also can’t see him knowing his letters (and not just the ABC song) and being able to count to 20 as a bad thing. The fact that he just starts saying the numbers even if there isn’t anything to count, yeah ok maybe, but just the fact that he knows them? She also wrote down that he has a repetitive motion mannerism because he likes to spin, but I didn’t include that because we’re pretty sure that he’s just spinning to get dizzy the way two years old do, not as a coping mechanism.
All of that being said, we are pretty lucky. They apparently don’t gauge ”how much” autism people have anymore, but from the things listed above, it sounds like it’s mild. Then again, I have no real idea. I’m just saying that because The Munchkin is very affectionate, he isn’t aggressive, and he is very good with The Bean. He generally isn’t loud, and will listen to what we tell him. I have no problem bringing him places, and have never had a complaint from the teachers at hourly care about him. He doesn’t bite, or clap randomly, or flap his hands around. It could be worse, for sure.
Still, I spent the couple of days after we got the diagnosis really sad. Probably depressed, but we’ll just go with really sad. I felt like I was mourning the son I thought I’d have. I worry that he’ll never talk to us. He can repeat words and phrases, but he doesn’t say a whole lot on his own. When he does, it’s a word here or there, or a phrase that we use over and over, and he doesn’t always use it in the right context. John seems to “hear” him say more things than I do, but I can’t help but worry that we’re grasping at verbal straws and making words out of gibberish. John’s hearing is way better than mine though, so maybe he really does hear words and phrases that I miss. I worry that The Munchkin will never understand the concept of Santa Claus/The Easter Bunny/The Tooth Fairy/etc and won’t ever get into things like Elf on the Shelf. I worry that he’ll never be able to express his likes to us. I don’t know what his favorite character on his favorite show is. I’m not even sure if the show I see as his favorite show actually is. I worry that I will never really know my son, and I worry that The Bean might end up having autism too.
John says that all of these feelings are pointless because I can’t prevent anything and they don’t help anything, but I can’t change how I feel. I guess all I can do is fill out the packet to enroll The Munchkin in the Exceptional Family Member program, and keep working with him. I’m going to try and get the school board to approve upping his speech therapy session from 2 to 4 sessions per week, as suggested in his evaluation. I’m also going to see if we can get an occupational therapist added to help with physical things like sitting up while playing and sitting
Indian style criss-cross-apple-sauce and whatever else he needs that I can’t think of right now because it’s after midnight and The Bean still isn’t sleeping through the night so I’m still tired a lot. These changes won’t happen until we’re in South Carolina, but I want to get the ball rolling anyway.
The good thing is that he is really young, so we have lots of time to try and help him work through his…quirks. The doctor also said that there is a 20% chance that he actually has some other disorder (OCD/ADHD/etc.) and those symptoms, combined with The Munchkin being a 2 year old, could lead to a false diagnosis of autism. That actually wouldn’t surprise me either. My family has OCD for days, and the kid doesn’t. stop. moving. I could see him having ADHD. His symptoms could go either way. Except for the eye contact thing; I’m pretty sure that’s just autism. But yeah. Anyway. I don’t think I’ve ever really had a bad year before, but 2013 so far can kiss my ass.