This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for something that many people may not understand. It involves my son and answers that we have been searching for for at least five years. Of course, these answers took a lot of time, energy, frustration, tears, and wanting to give up. Still, TechyDad and I could not give up. WE are the best advocates for our children and knew that we had to do more to get answers for our family.
It is finally time to share this information in a public way. We have our son’s permission because he wants other children and adults to understand. He wants kids to know why he does things a certain way that is different than most of his peers. He genuinely wants people not to bully kids like him for being “different” than others. It isn’t every day that you meet a young child that adores math and will talk your ear off about all things related to science, math, Legos, Harry Potter, and other items. His love for these items is intense, as is his need for order, schedules, and following rules. When an item upsets him, his emotions are deep. Certainly not something you would expect from a young child. His fears are that of an adult and not what a nine year old should be thinking of.
A Little History
Countless doctors, lots of specialists, and many meetings at school left us feeling lost. We knew that we had to do more for our sweet, smart, and very innocent son. Each year, he seemed to get more lost in the system, sad, and withdrawing from items. Last year, I made the call to our insurance company. I cried for help to find someone someone to help us get real answer. We were given the name of a Neuro-Psychologist to contact. Appointments for specialists take time, but what was a month or two at this point?
This woman did not judge. She was professional and made amazing observations in the classroom, during testing, and again when looking at all of her data. Although reading her report broke my heart, a weight was lifted. Finally, we could begin to really understand why NHL was reacting to things the way he did.
The Final Answer
In the end, the doctor came to the conclusion that NHL has Asperger’s Syndrome. In other words, he has high functioning autism. He is part of the 1 in 88 children that are diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. This was what I suspected years ago, but medical professionals would say yes, no, yes, and no over the years. This time, in my heart of hearts, I knew that she had the right diagnosis. It made sense, it all added up, and it would allow us to move forward with a new plan.
Autism is an answer to my prayers. I can now understand why certain things at home and school never really worked. My son is autistic, but it will not define who he is or who he becomes in the future. Yes, I am thankful to finally know more about the how and why of NHL’s responses to things.
I am also thankful for amazing professionals that we have found in the last few months since we got the diagnosis. They have given us a breath of fresh air. We know we are not alone in a later diagnosis and they have been great to bounce ideas off of. The special needs community does not judge, they embrace others. When we have a rough day, they help to make us smile with a story of success. They share resources and other items that have worked with their children. I hope to do the same here as well. My goal in writing this is to educate others and remind parents who are still searching for answers NEVER to give up on your child. You know your kids and truly are their best advocate.
The biggest item I am thankful for this year is my son’s happiness. NHL is genuinely happy these days, so much less anxious, and more focused. With social skills work and additional items, we are seeing growth in a lot of areas. We know how to work around things that may trigger an emotional response. We are also working hard to help educate other people in his life as well. It is often hard for us to understand everything, so I get the confusion.
Please remember that when you see a child crying or having what you consider a tantrum in a public place not to judge. Autism is not something that you can see at a glance. It may seem like a defiant or bratty child, but it is most likely a very scared kid who is overwhelmed with the neuro-typical world that they are living in.
Looking back: I actually did write some items about this in the past. I had forgotten about them, but in a search found them. All I can say is WOW.
- 1 in 96 boys (September 2007)
- Louder Than Words – Book Review (January 2008)
- Strange is as Strange Does (June 2012)
NOTE: The Autism Awareness ribbon icon above was created by Melesse and comes from Wikimedia Commons.