It is no secret we’ve had challenges with our son’s behavior. I would describe him as bright, intelligent, talented, and a bit quirky. There are aspects of his behavior that puzzled us, but we weren’t too concerned because as he matured those puzzling behaviors would cease.
When he first began to have tantrums, my husband brought him to a pediatrician who told him it was normal behavior for our son’s age. Before preschool we had early childhood people come to our house and assess him. They told us then that he was perfectly normal. I took him for his early childhood screening. He was one point short of passing, and I was told that since he was so close to passing it would be perfectly okay to decline services. I did. Preschool teacher #1 raised a concern about his communication skills. We discussed this issue with our family doctor, and our doctor told us it was perfectly normal; he would grow out of it. He did. Preschool teacher #2 was concerned that he wasn’t joining in with group activities or playing with the other kids. Two weeks later his teacher reported that he was joining in with group activities and playing with the other kids on the playground. All of us wondered why we were so concerned.
Now our son is in Kindergarten, and more issues and concerns have been raised. We were accused of being in denial that something could be wrong and that we ignored red flags. I disagree. We have never been in denial that there are issues, and we didn’t ignore anything. We sought help and advice, but we were told there was nothing to worry about. However, to assuage his teacher’s concerns, we agreed to contact our family doctor again and explain the issues happening in school. Our doctor referred us to a social worker who met with us along with our son. She suggested that we should attend parenting classes, and perhaps the teacher was inexperienced if she couldn’t handle our son (not so—the teacher is very experienced), then just to make sure, she suggested we have our son undergo a psychological evaluation, and we consented. After meeting with a psychiatrist, our son was diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). We began meeting with a behavioral therapist for PCIT (parent-child interactive therapy), and we experienced tremendous improvement in his behavior at home. Sadly, his behavior at school escalated. The therapist suggested that she have some 1:1 time with our son to see if she could dig into what is going inside him.
Prior to the 1:1 session last week, during time in prayer I felt strongly that it would be a key week. My husband, during his own time of prayer, felt that truth would be revealed. Something important would come to light. We were not disappointed. What came to light is that the ODD diagnosis was incorrect. However, as often can be, the truth was painful.
The therapist strongly suspects that our son has something in common with Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Isaac Newton, Andy Warhol, Bill Gates, Al Gore, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Charles Schultz, and his creation, Charlie Brown–it is suspected that he has Asperger’s Syndrome.
Two days later we met with a school psychologist, his teacher, and the principal to discuss plans to determine if our son is eligible for special education, and this week begins the arduous task of formal evaluations, tests, and assessments to determine an accurate diagnosis. This process will take a couple of months before we have any concrete answers. The results of all this testing will be released to our therapist who will confirm a diagnosis which she feels will turn out to be Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)-Level 1 (as of May 2013, diagnostic guidelines changed, and the term Asperger’s Syndrome is no longer used). This means that although he is very high functioning and can talk in complete sentences, he has some difficulty initiating social interactions and there are atypical responses to social overtures of others. Additionally, he has inflexibility/rigidity in other areas.
For those reading this, I wanted to let you know what is going on, but please understand that we are only beginning to put this puzzle together. We are in shock, and we are grieving, and we have many more questions than we have answers. We have wonderful friends and a church family who are supporting us through this. Additionally, we are pursuing nutritional remedies that have proven successful for many in reversing autism.
Thank you for reading this, and thank you for keeping our family in prayer during this difficult time. I truly believe that our son will continue to amaze us, and we have high hopes for a wonderful and abundant life for him.