Friday, May 25, 2007

Somewhere Over the Spectrum

Five years ago, my life entirely changed. I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I have always had the parental tug, so I was just overwhelmed with joy (my husband, eh, not so overwhelmed). I was finally going to be a Mother.

There was nothing really noteworthy about my pregnancy. Sure, I gained some weight (okay, a little more than "some"), had terrible heartburn, but I didn't get much swelling, aches and pains, or even cravings. All in all, it was pretty uneventful.

Jaysen was a beautiful baby. He was bald with big blue eyes, and had such a personality on him! He hit all of the typical milestones at the right times, if not sooner, until about age two. At his two year check-up, I mentioned that he didn't seem to be talking as much as his peers. His doctor reassured me that children develop at different paces, and not to worry.

I didn't. After all, my son was brilliant- at 8 months, he could write the letters of the alphabet. At two and a half, he was reading sight-words. His lack of speech dwelling in the back of my mind, I decided to take him to a speech therapist "just to make sure". After a few evals, the therapist noted his Hyperlexia, and said that there was probably nothing to worry about, but to bring him back in a year if he hadn't caught up to his peers.

To make a long story short, after returning to the pediatrician, a trip to the Neurologist, and a second opinion from another SLP, Jaysen had been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, Expressive Language Disorder, and Receptive Language Disorder. Hmm. Now, I was worried.

I researched as much as I could, but nothing seemed to fit. I bucked diagnoses after diagnoses. I wasn't in a state of denial, I knew something was amiss- I didn't want just any diagnosis, I wanted an accurate diagnosis. Jaysen didn't have the loquacious speech equated with Asperger's. The Expressive/Receptive Language Disorder fit more appropriately, as well did the Hyperlexia, but there seemed to be more. Something was missing.

He started to see the SLP on a regular basis. She was amazing, and he loved her. However, even at Speech, everything seemed it had to be on HIS terms. Enter the OT. Jaysen was evaled by the OT, and was found to have some sensory issues. Ah...another piece to the puzzle.

By now, his behavior had become so combative (not aggressive, but non-compliant), that the SLP felt he needed to see a psychologist for a consult. Maybe he could come up with a behavior plan. Jaysen's non-compliance was rendering his Speech sessions useless, as they became more a battle-of-wills than therapy sessions.

We met with the psychologist. After testing and observations were complete, he met with me to discuss the results. Yes, Jaysen was "on the spectrum". His official diagnosis was ASD (more specifically PDD-NOS).

A part of me felt muddled, but the truth is, I was relieved. I was relieved that we finally had an accurate diagnosis. Now we had a starting point.

I had worked with a variety of disabilities since I was fourteen years old. I've worked with children and adults that had DS, MS, CP, visual impairments, Deaf, POHI, SXI, classic Autism, and more recently, TBI and SCI. I loved it. I went to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Sign Language Studies. I never in a million years thought I would be using my "job" skills in my parental role. But, I figured that with all of my experience, why not me? I was probably more equipped to deal with a "special needs" child than the average person...wasn't I? Well, yes and no. As I said, I have worked with a number of disabilities, most of them were on the more severe side. I would have a whole new challenge ahead of me parenting a child with high functioning Autism.

So, friends, this began my journey somewhere over the spectrum.

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