“Your son has Autism.” Only four words, but devastating none the less. Me in my ignorance, didn’t know what that diagnosis contained.
It was 2007 and autism was not as prevalent as it is now. There weren’t commercials on the airwaves, autism groups nor people I knew who were effected.
Autism, Autism what is it? I could only think of the movie Rainman while searching my brain.
I sat still in the cold plastic chair listening for clues. The Psychologist was cutthroat with her findings,”Your son is severely autistic. There is a spectrum, like a rainbow. It starts from mildly autistic to severe. Meaning his speech is delayed. He may never speak, his social and life skills are hindered. Do you work Ms. R?” I nod yes. “You should quit, you can apply for disability for him. His disability will require 24 hour care.”
I was given little hope for his recovery, as I held his six week brother in my arms. I learned later my son was one of the most severe cases in my county where I lived.
I watched as my son ran around the observation room, toe walking, screaming on occasion and flapping his hands. I just thought to myself, “What does this mean? What are we going to do?” I was in shock. Nothing she said after that resonated. I was lost in a sea of uncertainty.
When he was born he was healthy. He met every milestone. I knew the milestones. I had ventured studying Early Childhood Education in my twenties. I had a daughter that met every one before him. So I knew what milestones he should reach and when.
But then those milestones abruptly stopped. Unfortunately this story is not uncommon. It was after his 18 month well checkup visit. He received 6 vaccinations. Later that night he received a elevated temperature of 104.9ºF. He then was admitted into the ER. It took six hours to get his fever under control. He was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection.
At this time I worked in the medical field and knew that no upper respiratory infection (a cold) would cause such a high fever. The ER called me the next day after he was discharged and said he had double pneumonia. What?! They prescribed an antibiotic.
Know that before his well visit (that made him deathly ill) he was fine, happy, healthy and talking.
After this he was unresponsive. Staring out into space, not answering to his name, screaming nonstop, not sleeping but an hour a day and banging his head against walls. He developed severe eczema, diarrhea, non stop runny nose and a aversion to clothes and most foods.
Numerous doctor’s visits with my concerns of his odd, worrying and self injurious behaviours left me no real answers. The doctor just came with the same answer. “Let’s wait and see…boys develop slower”.
It is so frustrating to know instinctively that there is something wrong with your child and a doctor to brush your concerns under a rug.
Luckily for me a new doctor emerged into the practice. I was trying to navigate my way out the door with a toddler having a meltdown. Fun times.
That doctor watched him for a minute and stopped me. “Ms., You need to take your son to Children’s Hospital. Get her a referral”. He wouldn’t say why only that he needed an evaluation.
I thought “Finally some answers”. And they finally came six months later.
Your son has Autism.
Only four words that completely changed our lives.