It’s amazing how empowering an open laptop and a quiet space can be. I’ve been waiting to write this post, until things settled down a bit and got easier. But the truth is, it hasn’t. And I don’t think things will ever be “settled” for us. The writer in me never fully processes things until my fingers touch the keys on the computer and I’m able to drain my brain onto the screen. As weird as that sounds, it’s so therapeutic. I’ve been working on this post for awhile, but it was never something I could just push, I needed to take my time. So please note, this post will never be exactly how I want it to be. I am not an expert on Autism, I am just a regular mom, who’s son happens to have just been diagnosed with Autism.
A few weeks ago Wyatt was officially diagnosed with Autism. From the first sign of a problem, to his first speech evaluation to his MRI, to his speech therapy, the testing in between, to his first day at speech school, we’ve shared it all. And to be honest deep down in my heart, I always felt like there was something besides the speech delay and sensory processing issues, but a few months ago when he was evaluated for the second time, he finally got his diagnosis.
About the Evaluation
An Autism evaluation is stressful. It’s a three-part process that leaves you feeling drained emotionally. The first appointment is just for the parents, where they have you fill out a lot of paperwork, questionnaires, and basically interview you about your child’s behavior. It really was eye-opening to see the different questions and to be able to mentally piece together and try to figure out what it was they were looking for.
The second appointment is with both you and your child. They do a variety of play-based activities like seeing if your child can use toys appropriately, match shapes, and more. Wyatt did not mind this part of the evaluation because he was able to meet a few new people and most importantly, play! He was NOT happy when the bubbles were put away at the end of the appointment, but other than that – he did really great.
The third appointment is just the parents, to receive the diagnosis. They take the paperwork you filled out, the answers you gave during the interview, and the play-based results and compile them together, score them, and present you with charts and graphs that will tell you how advanced or delayed your child is.
For us the results were not surprising, although we did find out that in things like math and numbers in general, Wyatt was scoring very high, at a 6-7 year old level when he was only 5. We knew he had delays in speech (which he’s been getting help for since he was 18 months old), and we knew he had sensory issues. But having all of that information right in front of you in graph form is completely overwhelming. I held my husbands hand as they got to reviewing the last page with us, and the word Autism came out.
And hey, it really wasn’t a total shock to us. We knew he was “on the spectrum” and getting the official diagnosis of Autism would allow for us to get the care he needed covered, which is difficult to do if you do not have an official diagnosis. I left that last appointment feeling overwhelmed and empty. I can’t really describe it – because I’ve never felt anything like it before. For that day, I felt hollow inside, and I barely spoke.
As soon as we got our diagnosis we were told Wyatt would benefit from ABA therapy and speech therapy outside of school. We also needed to call and make appointments for a neurological evaluation and a speech evaluation. Wyatt just completed the neurological evaluation on Monday and the doctor assured us there was nothing concerning going on which was just a huge relief for us. Next is the speech evaluation.
One thing about this process, and about these appointments in general – is that they take FOREVER. It has been months since this whole process started for us, and the days really seemed to just drag slowly by while we waited for each appointment. So the fact that we are finally to this point, one more appointment to go before we can officially submit the paperwork to our insurance for therapy coverage is huge. Because, let me tell you – paying out of pocket for what your child desperately needs is not cheap. And the fact that now, after all of this time – we will finally get some assistance from insurance will be a huge help.
So there you go. Wyatt is Autistic. He is a perfectly sweet, tender, and loving little boy who just happens to have Autism. His diagnosis will never change how special and amazing he is, because it’s what makes him so special and amazing – and I knew that would always be the case. It is a complete honor and privilege to be his mother. I’ve learned so much from him, and I continue to learn from him each day. I know that his future will be a little harder, and that some things may not come easy to him. But, that’s okay. Because I’m here, and we’ll navigate this together, as a family.
Side note, I’d like to thank you for reading, for letting me get this out, and for all of your support during this whole process. It has not been easy, but your love and encouragement has meant the world to my family. So, thank you.