I quickly mentioned it in a previous post, B's newfound diagnosis. One that isn't all that suprising, for those in the know.
To be honest, since B was a toddler, I've had my suspicions. The sensory issues (OH the sensory issues!) The way he uses language (I sometimes call him my little, old man, because of the vocabulary he showcases). The ridgity. The stim-like behavior. The restricted interests. The way he prefers older kids, and has trouble getting along with those his own age (sometimes, 4yo's don't appreciate being chastised because they don't understand the finer points of astromony).
Yet, there was a part of me that thought some of his behaviors were learned. The only model he had for a very long time was K, and a lot of B's behaviors mimiced her's. But, there were definite differences, his language abilities being the most obvious. Although, having a first-born who was so language delayed, he could have been typical for all I knew!
I kept myself from having him evaluated for a long time. I wanted to see what happened this year in Kindergarten. If maybe being in "real" school all day, around his peers, would somehow help.
And so I made the call. Of course, in the world of special needs evaluations, time practically stands still. I made the intial call for an appt last September, and only last week did we recieve an official diagnosis.
As I sat in the meeting, going over his testing results, I wanted to tell the woman to just get to the Aspergers part, because I just knew. I had also been down this road before, and didn't need my hand held. Give me the report, make the diagnosis official, and let me get on with life.
But, I kept my mouth shut. I allowed her to go over the testing, piece by piece, forcing myself to not blurt out that I already knew the results, and just needed a copy to send to the school. The whole point of the evaluation was to get him what he needed at school. Period.
You see, B doesn't really bother me. He doesn't worry me. He is an intense kid, yes, but I embrace it. I don't look at him and see a list of deficits. He's happy. He's so, so smart. He has his moments, and struggles, but I just don't have the same concerns I do for K.
His diagnosis made me realize something else. If K was a typical kid, and I knew nothing about Autism beyond Aspergers, I would have a completely different opinion of the "disorder". I understand where people are coming from, who either have Aspergers, or a child with Aspergers, who don't see it as a bad thing. B is only 6, and I know things can change dramatically as he gets older, but right now, it's not a hugely negative thing. I get it.
But, I get both sides. I also get having a kid who was non-verbal for a long time, who throws meltdowns of epic proportions, has no friends, hates life, and is generally unhappy. Who struggles academically. Who has immeasurable anxiety. A child for whom I worry constantly.
If I only had B, my perspective on any Autism disorder would be a lot different. I am grateful that my experiences allow me to see both sides, and how different things can be within the spectrum.
Am I saying all those with Aspergers live care-free lives? No. Am I saying all those diagnosed with another disorder on the spectrum live horrible lives? No.
What I am saying is that within the spectrum of Autism, there is also a spectrum of how people are affected, and we have to remember that, and never, ever invalidate the feelings of others. I can personally attest to how differently people can experience Autism. I see it everyday in my own house. I think it's an important point for us all to remember.
As my kids get older, I am seeing ASD (autism spectrum disorder) as just as part of our lives, becuase it's here to stay. I've stopped fighting the diagnosis, the autism itself, and instead have put my energy into making sure my children have the best lives possible, being autistic, or with autism (whichever they choose, or don't choose, one day).
But, I continue to understnad both sides. I continue to support my friends who wish for a magic pill to take it all away, and I support those who choose to see only the positive aspects of Autism. The only life I live is my own. The only experiences I have are my own. I won't ever speak for anyone else, which I've said ad nauseum, and will continee to say.
I now have two in the "club".
And I'm OK with that.