Sunday, May 28, 2006

Groggy blogging and seemingly random thoughts

The other day I took Michael out to the playground across the street. When we got there, another mom and her son arrived. Her son was holding two balls, so of course Michael ran over and promptly tried to take one away from him. I was trying to tell Michael that those were not his balls while the other mom was telling her son that he needed to share. They seemed to get the ball situation settled and started playing on the jungle gym. The other boy looked to be about 3 or 4, and after watching and listening to him for a few minutes, I had some thoughts stir in the back of my head. After a few moments, the other mom came up to me and apologized for her son if he became too rough, that he was autistic. That's what caused the spider sense to go off - seeing behaviors in her son that reminded me of Michael and the way she was speaking to her son, seeing my own behaviors mirrored. We didn't get to chat much, as her son is Michael on speed, if you can imagine it, but it opened up a can of worms, thus the groggy post.

Last month Michael had an evaluation with a behavioral specialist from EI to see what if any additional therapies he would need with the autism diagnosis. We had another behavioral eval the month before, but apparently that was the wrong one so it had to be done over. On the first visit, he asked John and I a slew of questions, typed a lot on his lap top, and watched Michael play. On the second visit, he asked me a slew of questions (John couldn't be there for this one) and watched Michael play. He didn't actually "test" Michael unlike his previous evals. He felt that Michael was not on the spectrum and definitely did not need any behavioral therapy. He also felt that the developmental ped was very conservative in her scoring of his initial autism test (can't remember which one she used) and that if anything, he's borderline. This eval was only for EI and doesn't change his diagnosis, we have to have a re-eval with the developmental ped or the like for that. At the time, I didn't know how to feel about it and have since settled on cautious optimism. My friends and family were all very happy and relieved.

We went to the zoo this morning. We haven't been in several months and we really looking forward to seeing Michael enjoy it. He knows many animals now and the sounds they make. He's also a lot more tractable on outings nowadays, so we had that going for us as well. We got into town, just made the bus, talked excitedly to Michael and each other about how much fun we were going to have. The trip wasn't all that different than the last time we went, and if anything, Michael was even harder to control. It wasn't anything really abnormal (none of the "Mommy, why is that boy doing X?" kind of comments and strange looks), but it was very disappointing for us. John took him into the petting zoo and he completely ignored the animals, instead he ran around trying to open or close every gate in the enclosure. It just wasn't the happy fun time that we were hoping for.

I admit that even though I said "cautious optimism" earlier, there was a part of me that started to jump for joy - no more special kid; I can go back to being a normal mom of a normal boy. The thing of it is that I've structured our life to suit him, so his differences aren't as obvious as they were today at the zoo. It's very easy to start to think that there are no differences, that everything is fine. I've been starting to think that maybe I've been selling us short; maybe we should try doing some more outings with my mothers' group. Right now I'm at that end of the spectrum where everything seems starkly sharp and contrasted, so I have to allow a bit for that skewed perspective. That said, it's not that far off. Compensating for both of our sakes has become second nature. That's not to say he hasn't made fantastic progress over the past six months, it's been incredible watching him. I just wasn't prepared for a trip to the zoo to burst my bubble.