Sunday, February 21, 2010

Autism Week: Diagnosis

Once upon a time, I left the hospital with a normal, healthy baby boy, or so I thought.  He was a fussy, clingy baby who loved routine.  He cried when the vacuum cleaner ran, or if the door was open when the grass was being cut.  He met his physical milestones, but not the verbal ones.  Maybe if he hadn't been our first, we would have realized it sooner, but there was definitely something wrong, language wise.  Yet, there were also lots of signs of definite intelligence.  He started receiving speech therapy at 2 1/2 and a special ed preschool teacher came to his daycare a couple of days a week to work with him when he was three and four.  After a rough start, he thrived in an inclusion kindergarten class in a wonderful public school, and his teacher told me he was the best reader she'd seen in the ten years she'd taught kindergarten.  He was diagnosed with ADHD and continued to receive some special ed services in first and second grade, but he also made the honor roll.  Then came third grade, changing classes and more structured work--and behavior problems.  I took him to another pediatrician for advice/consultation and after speaking to my son for a few minutes, told me he had Asperger's syndrome, that it was the diagnosis of the week, and that all they could do was treat the symptoms.  I went home, looked it up and saw the A word, Autism.  I knew autistic kids, he was in school with them and played with them, and I had to admit, had some things in common with them--but those kids couldn't do what he could, those kids had been diagnosed years before, and my son hadn't.  Was the pediatrician right?

After a full work-up by a center known for treating autistic kids, it was determined that his proper diagnosis was PDD-NOS, since he had language issues as well as social ones.  However, one thing the pediatrician said proved to be true--we've treated the symptoms to the best of our ability, but there is no miracle medication or therapy that makes it go away.

Do you have an autistic child?  Tell us about your diagnosis experience.  Either do it in a comment here, or by a post on your blog.  Link your post (even if it is an old one, already written) to Mr. Linky below.  Do you know an autistic child, or the parents of an autistic child?  What did you think when you heard about the child's diagnosis?  How did the parents react?


  1. Hope this isn't too far off topic. I am doing parent conferences this week and will not be computering much.
    I do not have an autistic child. Currently, in my classroom, I have six out of 114 students. i have four that I am pretty sure are autistic (since the AMA is getting away from asberger as a diagnosis). I count them in. All of them are male this year- I have had one girl in the past.
    Two are AU and MH - that is tough. I am not sure that both are MH because the autism masks the intelligence in both cases. They travel with one on one paras- but they are slowly participating in class. My wonder is---will they start all over again next year? Can we get them to associate our classroom with the next year? Is this more autism or Mental handicap? Do we "protect them too much" with the one on one aides? Do they need to be weaned off? So many questions in my mind.
    One is "regular ed" with rolling fingers or flapping. He has not been diagnosed- but it is pretty obvious to us.
    One has been diagnosed with something else, much more socially damaging label. That family refuses SPED so I cannot say "should he be retested" during an IEP.
    The last two are gifted and, again, undiagnosed. Both mothers exhibit signs during conferences and all of the sibs do as well. At least we are well trained to watch for the stress signs.
    None of my boys are labeled ED this year. We have dealt with this label in the past...the label being worse than the student when we put them in a better situation.
    What I can say is that we (as a team) feel that if we watch carefully for signs of stress, and carefully place these children with kind partners (who are oblivious to the idea of someone flapping), that things go well. We are cautious not to put undue burden on the boys and have them spread pretty evenly throughout the fore core classes. Actually, not having them all labeled helps us. If they were labeled they could only be in two of the four classes.
    My first autistic case was a bit scary. Now that I know we ALL can function in a classroom, I treat them like the rest of my kiddos. We all have quirks and fears- why should one different behavior be better or worse than another? I can see ALL of these boys functioning well in different aspects of life in the future- from researcher to artists. They certainly belong in my classroom.

    Off to the MOST stressful thing we do all year- state testing. The flapping begins!

  2. Your post caught my eye as I have been interested in this since having taught my last two years with Asperger Syndrome children in my class. Both were so different but the one boy and I linked for some reason and with all 7 of his teachers in middle school, I was the one who understood him and he could relate, as well as can be expected to me. The other gal would have been OK had her mom not denied her diagnosis. Anyway, I just wondered if you have read Monica Holloway's COWBOY AND WILLS? I read and reviewed it on my blog and am in love with this memoir. If you haven't read it, you might like to as it is very good and I am sure you share much of the feelings and experiences Monica and her son Will live through. She is also available through her website. Here is my review and may be a start for you to find the book. Bless you and your child.


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