As the month of May settles in, I am finding myself becoming a little emotional. At this time last year, the A word was just creeping into our lives. We were filling out paperwork galore, answering never-ending questions, attending evaluations and having our eyes opened to a new world. A world that we had been living in for years without really knowing we were there.
In three short days, we will hit the one year mark of receiving B’s diagnosis. That awful day in May when I got the call from the school psychologist. She said the words to me that no parent ever imagines they will hear, “your child is on the autism spectrum.” I froze in my desk chair, hot tears streaming down my face.
Autism? What did that mean for his education, his future, his life? What changes were we going to have to make for our family? Is he ever going to make friends? Is this what a broken heart feels like? Oh my gosh, my husband, how am I going to tell my husband? What will our friends think? Will our family support us? Does insurance cover treatment? How am I ever going to put one foot in front of the other and continue moving?
The questions were whirling through my head. I wrote down some dates of when we would need to meet next, but I was no longer listening to the voice on the other side of the phone. My world had just been rocked. Thinking back to that day last May, I would have never imagined we would be where we are now.
In the past our family has received the following diagnosis:
B: Asperger syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder, near-sighted vision accompanied by tracking issues;
A: Multi-System Developmental Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Sleep Myoclonus;
Me: Depression, Anxiety.
We have gained the following services:
B: Early Intervention preschool services through the School District, Day Treatment services through a local autism program, Medic-Aid through the State, a community based grant through the State.
A: In-home early intervention services through the School District, pubic health nurse services through the County, Day Treatment services through a local autism program, Medic-Aid through the State, a different community based grant program through the County.
Me: A wonderful counselor that talks to me twice, monthly.
It has been a long year full of countless changes. It has been difficult and taxing and emotional, but I wouldn’t change a bit of it. Why? Because we have also experienced some huge, amazing, wonderful changes as well.
Last year during our spring preschool conference, B was having a very difficult time. Academically, he was able to keep up and was even complaining of it not being hard enough, but he still needed a lot of support. He was having difficulty with his peers, he was having a hard time sitting with the group, he became unruly during gym time and overall was requiring a lot more one-on-one assistance than the other children in his classroom.
This years spring conference was like night and day. During the school year, through trial and error, we have found a combination of supports that have ensured that almost every day at preschool is a great day! B is now playing with friends during free play time, is able to stay with the group during large and small group activities, is no longer over-stimulated by the gym and is able to be a lot more independent in the classroom.
We are also experiencing some amazing changes in our home. Again, through trial and error, we have found things that work to help B be more independent in his activities of daily living, he is sleeping better and is just all around better adjusted. He is a healthy, happy five year old boy with a few extra supports. That is all.
A has also made some amazing changes. Through the help of his EI team, he has weaned from daytime nursing, is putting together multiple words in sentences, is moving away from always talking in scripts and is also just so much more well adjusted than six months ago.
Life threw us a curve ball a year ago. We could have watched that ball go by, but we chose to swing for the fences and baby, it was the best decision we ever made. My boys are growing and changing every single day for the better. I can only hope that the next year will be half as amazing.
Our family was forever changed that day last May, but my heart is healing and my feet are moving, one step at a time.