On April 8, 2011, we became official card-carrying members of the “Parents of Children with Autism Club”. The official word from the neuropsychologist confirmed what we had suspected for months…for years. And yet, it still was a gut-punch…as there was always the hope that I was just being dramatic, over-protective, and that Tate would grow out of this…
Our neuropsychologist asked if we had any questions. The only thing I could muster was to ask if “it was a good thing” that our son did share emotional reciprocity with family and close friends/teachers/therapists. She nodded. She also said something to the effect that Tate’s anxiety, ADHD, and sensory processing disorder contributed to his poor performance, and she thought that after some therapy (like ABA) he would perform more skills at-level. We are supposed to reevaluate in another year.
The “wait- and – see” approach hadn’t gotten us very far, so I sprung into action. We ruled out medical stuff. We saw a geneticist. (The Rx for blood draws for genetic testing sit in a folder. I know I need to go have it done, but taking Tate for a blood draw is no picnic.) We spent the summer fighting insurance to get ABA therapy covered…and won! We got Tate back into private OT, we worked with his team at school to rearrange his schedule to fit in therapy, we reworked his speech goals with his SLP to work on things where he was most deficient.
We got him into a pediatric psychologist. She agreed that he has off-the- charts ADHD, which is compounded by his high anxiety levels. The attention and focus are our first target to work on…and Tate is on meds. I am not too sure about this…we see slight improvements, but nothing life changing. But at least we have a plan.
With the plan comes the need for patience while we implement and adjust therapy and treatment to best serve Tate’s needs. And waiting for progress is the hardest part…We wait for the therapies to teach him proper pragmatic speech, to help him gain stronger motor skills, to help him cope, to help him survive this cruel world. We wait for the ABA therapy to help him choose more appropriate behaviors in general, and in response to his peers and the social demands put on him every.single.day. We wait for the right combination of medications to help him focus, attend, be present…to help control the impulsivity and fidgeting.
Tate has made impressive gains in the past 7 months. Many important foundation-building gains. So, we wait…and we hope…and while we have moments where we falter and go to that hard, dark, cold, unforgiving helpless place, the moments of hope lift us and keep us going in our journey, in our DUTY to give Tate, and his brothers, the best that life has to offer.