After posting about C’s new autism diagnosis, I stepped back from this space not knowing what to say next. I wallowed yesterday. I didn’t shower until the afternoon. I skipped my scheduled run for half marathon training. I stayed home from my weekly church growth group in favor of fuzzy socks and Chinese food takeout.
They say most people know a family who has been touched with autism. If you didn’t before, you do now. We are that family.
C was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Under the old DSM IV, he would have been classified under Asperger’s or high functioning. He is severe in areas of rigidity (fixations and needing things to be his way) and social interaction. It was suggested that a center-based intensive therapy might be best for him so that he is around peers instead of one-on-one with an adult. The Early Start Denver Model was suggested as best for him as a developmental approach. Now comes more work on my part to speak with insurance, interview clinics and find the best fit for his needs.
Do you ever feel like things are about to change in a big way? Like something big is about to happen and life will never be quite the same again? I felt this way before my wedding day. There was a similar feeling when I went to the hospital in labor with C, and when those two lines appeared and we discovered we would have Baby Jo. Our family is on the threshold of change and it is making me anxious.
Grinding his teeth, growling with his hands clenched, C came at me. On exceptionally difficult days, he is like a lion on the prowl, ready to strike at any moment. Like a lion’s prey, we need to be on constant alert as we wait for him to strike. That strike comes in different forms: hitting, head butting, squeezing, scratching or biting.
Those five words came out of my mouth before I realized how silly they sounded, while also summing up exactly what I was feeling.
“It is what it is.”
I was at the church office to pick up C’s school supplies. Two days earlier, his teacher approached me when I was dropping him off for school. He was making seven or eight trips to the bathroom during his three-hour school day. He is too scared to go to the bathroom alone, so a teacher had to leave the classroom to escort him to the bathroom and wait outside the door until he was done. Sometimes he was in there for 10 minutes at a time.
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I don’t know when I got old enough to have a child in preschool. Last week, I found myself at preschool drop off surprised by how quickly my baby boy grew into a preschooler. It may have been my tired eyes or the nervous boy clinging to my legs, but I had to quickly wipe away the tear that fell onto my cheek. How did we get here?