I wasn’t planning on writing this post during this month, primarily because I didn’t think we would know what we found out this week. Yes, I know. #cryptic.
Let me back up a bit.
During Benji’s Child Study (and for months and years before we started this process) Aaron and I had a niggling suspicion that went like this: “I wonder…if he has autism.”
When I wrote this post, I briefly alluded to my suspicions about autism. In moments of doubt, I would do a few days of frantic research, reading lists of symptoms, but always dismiss my fears.
And I don’t say “fears” lightly. I was deeply afraid of turning over that stone. I didn’t know what I would find, and I was afraid.
But through this last year–the research, the learning challenges, the sensory issues, the Child Study–the pieces started to fall into place, but the picture was incomplete.
We kept wondering.
Even the members of our Child Study team, those wonderful teachers and professionals that had spent hours teaching him, observing him, and testing him, said, “Hmm…do you think…?”
And we said, “Maybe. We see it too.”
We saw the obsessions about certain topics that he would talk about endlessly and repetitively (dragons, transformers, Turbo, or whatever it was that month)
We saw his difficulty with two-way communication.
We saw his struggles to make friends that went far beyond shyness or social awkwardness
We saw his sensory issues (which I knew 80% of children with autism exhibit, though not all children who have SPD are autistic)
So instead of living in the doubt and fear anymore (because those questions will make you crazy), in July, we decided to officially test him for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
I talked to my pediatrician and he made referrals for us.
I could write a really long post this process, but I won’t today.
The important thing is the results: On Monday this week, the day I wrote this post, Benji was officially diagnosed with ASD.
“He’s high functioning,” the doctor said. “But, there are definitely some challenges that we need to address.”
I nodded, absorbing this news, wondering if my face looked as shell-shocked as I felt. I tried to form the most logical question I could, under the circumstances.
“So, what’s next?”
And we talked about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Occupational Therapy, appointments and testing, about forming new pathways in the brain, all while my 8 year old son sat at my feet on the rug, lining up plastic farm animals beside a red wooden barn, listening.
As expected as this news was, the grief that hit me in the aftermath was swift, fierce, and deep.
I have not been okay this week.
In fact, I had an emotional breakdown yesterday in the mall parking lot and my husband took off most of the day at work to come home and be with me.
I spent all afternoon in bed.
So, why am I telling you this? For this reason: to let you know that other people fall apart.
I fell apart this week.
I have cried a lot.
I have been angry, sad, confused, and wanted to lay down and just quit.
But I can’t quit.
So I took a nap instead.
And then, after my nap yesterday, I felt a little better.
So I got up.
I made breakfast burritos for my family for dinner.
I graded some papers and prepared my lectures for my on-campus classes.
I listened to Micah read and I nursed Eli.
I chatted with some friends on facebook and texted my sister about my crazy day.
I talked and laughed with my amazing husband after our kids went to bed.
I may not be “fine” this week but I will be.