I had to wait three weeks to see the new therapist. My summer was about to go from bad to worse. An oil spill happened, yeah that one. Chad was deployed to the Gulf for a month. Great timing oil spill!
Logan's behavior was getting worse. The temper tantrums were unbearable and I never knew what was going to set him off. It was like walking on eggshells all the time. I needed help STAT.
Meanwhile, until our appointment, I wrote down ALL of Logan's behaviors. That way I didn't forget to tell the therapist anything. I also compiled notes and report cards from school. I wanted to be prepared. The time had come and our first appointment went well and basically I just gave the therapist all the background on Logan. She wanted us back in a week.
The next week the therapist handed me the book All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome. She asked me to read it. As I flipped through the pages, tears welled up in my eyes. I would glance over at Logan periodically as he was engrossed in the Legos. I kept reading even though at one point I couldn't see through the watery goggles I was wearing. I handed the book back to her and she just nodded and said "Sounds about right, doesn't it?".
We had a few more sessions with her. One thing I wanted to work on with Logan was that he was not the bad kid. But having a problem is no excuse for bad behavior. This was something that was clearly going to take time. The therapist told me we also needed to see a developmental pediatrician and/or a psychiatrist, we needed an occupational therapist, we needed to get an IEP (independent educational program), we needed to apply for the EFMP (exceptional family member program) through the military and get him in the ECHO program to receive additional services...and then my head exploded.
Thankfully my husband's time in the Gulf saving chocolate pelicans had come to an end and just in time to meet with the psychiatrist. The Dr explained Asperger's/PDD (pervasive developmental disorder) in terms that we could understand. That there are many symptoms, you can't treat the disorder, you have to treat the symptoms. Made sense. I had a problem though. The word "autism". I have to admit my own ignorance got the better of me. I mean my son has normal intelligence, aren't kids with autism...slow?
So what are the signs and symptoms associated with high-functioning autism?
- Problems with social interaction, difficulties interacting, overreacts when being teased, reacts negatively when interrupted, difficulty asking for help, difficulty making friends - Big Fat Check! Logan doesn't have any friends. He prefers to play alone or with his baby sister. He's 7, she's 2. He sits alone at lunch. In first grade he wanted to sit with the teacher and not his classmates. He has only been invited to ONE birthday party ever. This makes me sad. He also lacks facial expressions at times.
- Difficulties with nonverbal interaction (no eye contact, difficulty accepting affection, awkward body postures, difficulty with nonverbal gestures) - Check! He doesn't like eye contact. At. All. I have to ask for a hug, I cannot just give him one. He will stand there like a tree and not hug back. I'm a hugger.
- Problems sharing enjoyment, interests or achievements with others - Check.
- Unusual, restricted or repetitive types of behaviors, interests and activities - Check! He has some OCD tendencies, like lining things up and categorizing things. He has obsessions with nature. Bugs, spiders and more recently sharks. Over the summer he spent the majority of his time searching for bugs. I took pictures of many of the bugs he found (some were pretty cool) and we are going to make a scrapbook so he can always "keep them". He would wander out of the yard, which was not safe. He had no concern for his safety. Logan gets attached to "things" which he says are special. He has a special box for his special things. I cannot touch these things or he'll have a fit. Literally. Another obsession is cars. We must own every Matchbox car made in the last 3 years. He cannot walk by a Matchbox car display with stopping. I hate Kroger for putting them randomly throughout the store! Reason ONE why I cannot take him shopping.
- Lack of social or emotional back and forth interaction (difficulty sitting and participating in groups, inability to negotiate, difficulty engaging in appropriate play, difficulty in greeting others, difficulty in majority rules) - Check!
- Mood swings - CHECK!
- Difficulty dealing with changes in routine - Check. Being that I have OCD, my life revolves around routine, so I can relate to this. We have a definite routine!
- Hyperactivity or passiveness - Check to the former!
- Inappropriate laughter or crying - Check.
- Oversensitivity or undersensitivity to stimuli - Check. Logan has issues with food. He will only eat certain things and ONLY those things. Dinner time was becoming a challenge.
- Poor speech or lack of speech - This is true with many types of autism but not necessarily with high-functioning autism. Logan's speech is normal but he was slower at developing speech.
This may sound strange but I felt a sense of relief knowing what we were dealing with. Now we can move forward. But just as we had gotten the ball rolling on treatment, my husband and I were forced to make an extremely difficult decision....