***Warning- long post filled with ramblings from the heart***
Boy, it's been a few days since I last posted. Lydia's had some mysterious illness and it just seems like the kids have been more needy lately.
Last weekend I was able to get away for the night for an annual "girls weekend away" with my sisters and my mom. We had a great time filled with laughter and chocolate. We spend most of our time scrapbooking or working on various crafts that we've had to put on hold. I think my 3 sisters and my mom have all had some stressful past months in one way or another (although, who doesn't have some form of stress in their lives?) so it was a much needed break from reality. I wish we could do it more often. Those girls mean the world to me.
Our latest news and a new learning curve for me comes in the form of a diagnosis for Lucas. Since late last summer we have been concerned about some things we were seeing in his behavior and we noticed his speech was quite delayed. Last week we took him to the developmental peds. office at the Children's hospital in our area. We've been pursuing this appointment since last September. In the past 4-6 weeks he has shown a lot of improvement in his speech and overall ability to cope with things. What an encouragement! I seriously considered canceling his appointment, but since it took so long to be seen I thought we should go just to play it safe. I didn't want to have to play "the waiting game" again if I changed my mind and wanted to be seen again.
It was a long 4 hours for him (and me), but he handled it quite well. For him, it was mostly play designed to observe his reactions, behavior, etc. The diagnosis he has been given is PDD-NOS, which stands for Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified. The best way I know how to explain this is to create a word picture. Picture PDD (different from PDD-NOS) as an umbrella. What is covered under the umbrella is where Lucas' diagnosis is. Under the umbrella is Autism, Aspergers, Fragile X, Retts Syndrome and PDD-NOS. Long story short (kind of) is that PDD-NOS means Lucas has some of the characteristics of the pervasive developmental disorders, but not enough of them to characterize him as having one specific disorder. A lot of parents feel like it's a blanket term to say "we don't know what's wrong with your child" and some feel like it's high functioning autism. I still have a lot to learn so I'm not sure where I stand. The psychologist said as he gets older he may fit better into the Asperger category. Only time will tell.
I know as a parent this diagnosis brings a small amount of relief. That may sound odd, but when your child has some autistic tendencies you begin to doubt yourself as a parent. At least I do. You begin to believe you are missing a piece of the puzzle in parenting and your child is "different" because you are a poor parent. Sometimes it feels like people think you have a "brat" when in reality your child is just having difficulty adjusting the way other kids do naturally. Unfortunately, I do sometimes find myself avoiding "play dates" or social outings because I don't know how to help him interact appropriately with kids his age. When he melts down I get embarrassed. It's something I need to work on!
This diagnosis also brings some sadness. We have the great news that he is above average intelligence. He will function just fine in life, but he may always struggle with social connection and OCD type behavior. As a mom, I just don't want him to have to struggle in this way, but I'm hoping to be able to mold it to his advantage.
It's also difficult because Autism awareness has been increasing lately I feel like people think it's a fad diagnosis. Sure, all kids probably exhibit some autistic behaviors from time to time, but when everyday is filled with these behaviors you begin to wonder. I have felt opposition from people who are close to me and that hurts. I don't want him to have a diagnosis to prove me right... I just want to be able to get him the help he needs. It can be a lonely road. I tend to question and doubt myself a lot.
The bottom line is Lucas is still Lucas. Loving. Silly. Smart. Energetic. Precious. This doesn't change the way we feel about him. We want to be his advocate and help him reach his full potential. And what wonderful potential he has!