Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fool's!

Originally published April 1, 2012. 
I'm waaaaay past sarcasm. Proactive activity rules my world, kids still rock my world.

Guess what?  April Fool's to us!  Scooter isn't autistic after all!  ;~/   I'd like to share the fantastic news with some of those who helped us along our terrifying journey of discovery and knowledge.

Dear award-winning pediatrican group in a prominent college town, 
Thank you for holding my hand with warmth and concern when my son was young and I questioned his development appointment after appointment.  It turns out all 6 of you were right!  He really is just an active boy who will settle down in time. Boys do develop slower than girls, especially in speech and behavior.  His motor skills would strengthen by doing the 2 basic activities you mentioned. And yes, he did look at you briefly when you said his name! I understand your refusal to do further testing to promote early intervention.  Waiting until his rapid developmental toddler years flushed out his worrisome behaviors was a  much better approach.  I tried not to read all that scary information on the internet that angers you so.  I know that if it was you you'd just sit around and wait for the experts to inform you of your child's troubles.  Boys don't communicate as well and often take risks.  
I guess I was just paranoid because from day one of my pregnancy your local sister ob/gyn group warned me nonstop about the high risks associated with older 40+ pregnant woman.  All those statistics, articles, lectures were wrong about the dramatic increase of birth defects with older mothers.  I'm so glad that I didn't let them perform all those intrusive, risky tests.  The precautions I took coming in twice weekly to monitor his development must have worked, so really - why bother checking his performance after birth?
I also appreciate how you ignored the way Scooter always ran up and down your hallway, opening doors to see other patients.  He's really just a caring soul who wanted to see why the babies were crying.  All those babies in the waiting room must have been hungry or crabby when he poked their eyes or took off their little caps before I could reach him.  He is a bright curious boy.  I tried to console the children that he took toys and trucks from, and unthinkingly pushed out of the way from his play routine - it must have been their nap time. Anyway, I just wanted to offer my sincerest gratitude for placating me and offering the finiest in quality pediatric healthcare during my difficult time as a new parent.

Dear numerous pediatric psychiatrists, psychologists that I contacted via phone,
Like our pediatrician group, your shared the belief that children really don't need evaluating until they are kindergarten age.  I appreciate you discouraging me from my worry by giving me prices and breakdowns of the many appointments we'd need.  It helped me to realize that despite the professional directives advocating for early intervention, most children don't get evaluated until they pass the stages of development that could be subject to varied degrees of normal.  Each of his behaviors could be attributed to growth stages.  All kids go through stages that appear unusual, but of course I'd forgotten in the 5 years since my other 2 children were babies.  I considered listening to your advice, but finally had to set my worries to rest and get him evaluated after he lost his speech and started punching and kicking me, then his big sister.  And of course there was the running into the street or parking lot the hundreds of times, and getting lost in public.  But of course you knew, because I'd told you all of these concerns.
What you didn't tell me was that each of these behaviors was listed in the standardized ADOS Autism Screening test.  In fact, in the huge hours-long, 100+ question booklet interview, Scooter had 3 ASD behaviors that didn't apply and that he didn't do.  So he must not be ASD, simply developing differently or perhaps had some sensory and communication issues.  

Dear strangers, well-meaning friends and relatives,
Thanks for your patience with a paranoid mom and her active son.  It turns out he is just like his dad's side of the family who are hyperactive, never-sit-still kind of go-getters.  And like I heard so often, Einstein didn't talk until he was 4, or was it 6?  In fact, I have read statistics on how many autistics are brilliant, savant-like geniuses like RainMan.  Gosh I hope we're in that 10%.  Yup, that's all.
Thanks to all who pulled together at group activities and took care of my other kids while I frantically chased Scooter.  You have no idea what a comfort it was to me to know my other kids were safe and having fun when you stepped in.  Thanks for making it a joke to him by asking, "Are you hiding from your mom again?" with a grin.  I loved chasing him and needed the exercise of course.  Oh how I laughed and laughed when so many suggested an invisible fence with a handheld zapper for him, I don't know WHY they haven't invented it yet.  Or wait, isn't that a Tazer?
I felt wonderful knowing I had your support when discussing his issues brought stories of your  children's similar mischievous escapades, or rolled eyes when I got too worked up/choked up, smiling knowingly at each other as I blew things out of proportion.  Labelled an over-sensitive Drama Mama.  I didn't need a friendly hug, I needed to see that "all families have their issues".  It helped to give me a reality check!  My older two children totally spoiled me because they were easy babies, toddlers, preschoolers.  I finally got a child who wasn't a perfectly behaved angel!  Oh, so this is how parenting is supposed to be.  Besides, as many of you told me: as my first, my only biological child, I was more prone to worry and search for problems, to care more about his development.  He was my only "real" child, even though we adopted our others at birth, it simply wasn't the same.  I couldn't possibly adore them as my own.*
*Nickerdoodle and Chickie: Oh, how very, very much I do adore every moment of your lives, my beautiful gifts from God! You are all my sunshine and reasons for my joy!  G is our "bonus round". after a perfectly complete family.  <3  
I especially want to thank the close friend who helped me one day after my teary, breathless, frantic frightened outpouring about Scooter's frustrating behaviors, screeching cries, roughness and non-stop destruction.  It helped me so much when you matter-of-factly told me, "Well, he's not a monster!"  It was a great wake up call because I could have gone down the path of mistakenly thinking he was. Duh. Like I really give out those vibes in my weary desperation. I love friends who understand. To her benefit, I don't complain to NT parents much. She probably got smacked with too much reality.

Dear Christian Preschool Teachers,  
Thanks so much for your kind, patient ways with my beloved son.  I realize he had potty issues and he would pee or poop daily while in your class.  I thank you for not wanting to take part in positive supports because he needed to learn like everyone else and was supposed to before entering your school.  We really don't know why he took a backslide under your tender Christian care.  I loved hanging around to wait for your call so that I could change him, with you tsk-tsking and reminding me to take his soiled diapers with me (like I ever would leave them?), in front of other parents.  Your frank approach was just what I needed, and what my special needs son needed.  
I particularly appreciated the way you finally called in an exasperated tone and asked me to meet formally.  I was certain that this time when I asked if he was kicked out you'd say YES! instead of the usual, "not yet" with a smug look.  Your no-holds-barred approach was helpful.  It was great to know that you'd all gotten together to discuss his problems at length without me.  The itemized list you recited without pause for me to question, to understand, to digest - just perfect and very helpful that it was scrawled on a scrap of paper so that I couldn't review it later when I wasn't under duress.  I knew that you had a strict timeline of 10 minutes to educate me on my son.  I was grateful when my tears flowed that you yelled out from your seat through the open door for someone to bring Mrs. Perky some tissues, disturbing the quiet classroom.  I really didn't want comfort or kind words, it would only make me weep and you instinctively knew this somehow.  It was a bit embarrassing to emerge teary and blotchy at pick up time, with questioning stares.  But, it did get Scooter to recognize my tears and sadness, a social skill that he usually doesn't have.  He even offered me tissues as I sobbed in the parking lot.   

April Fool's!  We wear our Autism Awareness with pride and love.  My goal is to spread awareness so that others don't have these hurtful, terrifying experiences.  Parenting is difficult enough.  Autism is over the top.  Trust yourself, facts/statistics/warning signs, know your children, and 

Don't ignore your instincts!

I have so many other helpful individuals/professionals to sarcastially "thank", but I must go.  I need to purchase my blue light to proudly display in my porch lights on April 2.  I need to get back to my positive works promoting awareness, acceptance and support for families affected by autism.   I need to nurture our relationships with caring friends, relatives and professionals who have helped prop us up in this journey.  I need to pull my family close and proclaim a GH, where we all huddle together in a GROUP HUG!