And the journey begins …

cc Ian Britton

Or maybe it’s just a new chapter in the journey.  Yeah, probably that.

I had a word dumped on me this week that leaves me shaken.  A word about my child that I didn’t expect to hear, certainly not in the conversation we were having.  A word that describes my child’s school’s understanding of him, which does not mesh with my understanding.

Autism.

How long?  How long have they thought he had autism?  Yes, I know he is different.  I know his behavior sets him apart. I had always thought–assumed–believed–it was ADHD.  Maybe severe ADHD.  But ADHD is a diagnosis I can handle. I can talk about ADHD.  I can understand ADHD.  I can handle ADHD so well that I’m the coordinator of our CHADD chapter.  No, ADHD doesn’t explain all of his struggles, but it is a start.

But autism?  That’s a whole different monster.

The guilt sets in.  Early detection and intervention is important.  It is key to living a good life, right?  To being able to function in a mainstream class, to not being so different that he can’t function in the world.  But this is not early detection.  He is five — FIVE, almost six.  And the doctors said when he was 2 that he doesn’t have autism.

But they also knew something was wrong.  And he’s been getting therapy for the past 4 1/2 years.

How long have they known?  How long have they been hiding this from me?  I feel betrayed.  I had thought we were on the same page, and it turns out we were not. At all.  They could hide behind words like “young child with a developmental delay.”  They could evaluate and not diagnose.  Because he is a young child and he has a developmental delay.

She used it so casually, as if it was something everybody accepted about him already.  It isn’t as a bad thing.  It just is.  She had no idea that the word–and its implications–were not put on him at home.

A diagnosis is not merely a set of symptoms.  A diagnosis is a word, a word that can change a viewpoint.

No wonder they were so impressed with how he behaves at school.  They have given him a word, and with it the expectations that follow from that word.  He is succeeding because he does not fall to those expectations.

 

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