Thursday, November 4, 2010

Your son has Autism

PDD-NOS These are the words we heard yesterday as we sat across from Ryan's wonderful psychologist. And even though these were the words we expected and wanted to hear, it was still a very emotional day.

We have always felt Ryan was on the Autism Spectrum but could never get a clear cut answer. We had a not so pleasant experience at one place, where we were told, after being in the office for 15 minutes "your son just has a speech delay and I have no idea why your pediatrician referred you here". We knew our son and we knew there was something much deeper then "just a speech delay". We didn't stop there. A year later, we sought a private psychologist. After testing, she said I see what you see but on paper, he isn't qualifying for a diagnosis. We were ok with this as at the time. We didn't need a diagnosis but wanted peace of mind. Ryan was getting all of his therapies paid for through the county funding.

We were placed with a service coordinator to oversee all of our services and to make sure all of our paper work was in order to have everything paid for. When she was here for her yearly visit in February she mentioned we could hire a behavioral therapist if we thought we needed extra help. We did and that is how we found our psychologist, Dr. Janet and our wonderful behavioral therapist, Kate. We then signed up for a social skills class for the summer and sent Ryan to summer camp at Easter Seals so that he would continue to be in a structured environment.

Eight months have passed and we have seen tremendous growth in Ryan. The tantrums are now minimal and much easier to deal with. He used to reach his "point of no return" as we call it, several times a day. Now, it's down to once a week. We still have moments, every day, but we are able to bring Ryan back down much easier, before he reaches this point. Kate comes to our house once a week and works with me on Ryan's behaviors and how to help him cope easier. We use picture schedules and try to redirect him.

Over the summer, Dr. Janet really got to know Ryan during the social skills class and then started the testing in October. As we walked into her office today, we weren't sure what to expect. We were already thinking about next year when Ryan is supposed to start Kindergarten but we aren't quite sure he is ready. And the thought of putting him in a classroom with 26 other kids, makes us very nervous. If we didn't get a diagnosis, we were considering holding him back a year in hopes that his social skills and speech would be better.

As we heard these words from her, the tears started down my face. All of those emotions that I felt over the past 3 years when we first noticed symptoms in Ryan came back and all of the frustration of not knowing (even though we did). I wasn't sad though. I was relieved. Relieved to finally have someone say what we have felt all along.

This opens so many more doors for Ryan. He will continue to get all of those services he needs and we will be able to work more with the school district to make sure he is in the right spot. Our goal is a smaller special education classroom and some mainstreaming, possibly with an aid. We also have the option of looking at other schools that help kids with Autism and learning disabilities. It is good to have options.

Ryan's prognosis is great though. We will continue to do everything we can for him and make sure he gets the best education he deserves.

We are so incredibly grateful to all of our friends and family for all of your support and continued support.