I’m sitting here this morning, filling out yet another stack of paperwork on my child. No, not the one with autism, the other one. We’re headed down the diagnosis trail again.
When Nathan was born, I watched everything he did with an eagle eye. I wrote down every milestone. I’d been here before with John, and I wanted to be able to answer any question a doctor might have about his development. And after a while, I began to breathe easy. He was early or on time for everything. I mean, he rolled over at three weeks! Who does that??? He crawled when he was supposed to, he walked like a boss, he said his first words and just kept going. I tucked my development notes away, and sat back to enjoy it.
At age 3, we were still feeling pretty good. Nathan had great eye contact, loved to play with other kids, and was extremely social. His gross motor skills were taking off, his play was imaginative and appropriate, and his fine motor skills seemed, well, fine. But his speech was still garbled, and we weren’t taking any chances. To speech therapy we go! He’d had chronic ear infections, so we did the audiology tests and tubes. Everything was normal. Right?
Well, not so much. As we get closer to five, some things are rearing their ugly heads. It’s not his speech that there’s a problem with, it’s his language. His ability to retrieve and use correct words is very underdeveloped. And those fine motor skills? Not so fine. Yes, he can do all the daily living skills he needs to, but writing, not so much. And our old friend ADHD has shown up. He is extremely hyper, inattentive, and impulsive. At this point, kindergarten would be a daily battle, so he’s in VPK for this year while we figure everything out.
So here we are again with the mountain of paperwork, all wanting to know those important milestones and when they were met. What are my concerns for my child? What is the family history? And then there’s the question rattling around in my mind – how did we get here again?
But with all of this weighing on me, this time is different. Yes, the evaluations are going to be long and annoying. Yes, I am going to get tired of filling out paperwork. Yes, it will be hard to watch my second son struggle as the professionals try to get to the root of the problems. However, this time I know what to expect. I know that I will be depressed by this process. I know that I need to start my paperwork binder NOW, not wait until a hurricane is barreling towards us. I know how it will feel to walk into that IEP meeting and be the parent, not the teacher this time. I’ve been there with John, and I know what to expect.
Most importantly, what I also know is what waits for us on this trail. I know that my son will get the supports his needs to be successful. I know that no matter what a piece of paper says about him that he will exceed all expectations and will be what he will be. And I know that I am not walking this trail alone. This time, I have my tribe and they will be there. They will be in front of me to cheer me on, behind me to have my back, and beside me to hold my hand. And that makes the trail easier to travel.