*Encouragement is the best medicine to give someone. If I were to pick any gift to have in helping others, that would be the one*

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Importance of an Early Diagnosis

I was reading on Wildeman's Words about why a diagnosis is important.  Autism: Why get diagnosis?

"Early diagnosis is especially important for our children. Sure, they may not be having difficulties now, but as they get older and life cycles change, they may need the additional supports that are available to children on the spectrum. Studies have shown that early support is more successful than waiting until later. You can find such reports in most medical diagnosis for all kinds of conditions."

It's true!  I still remember getting the call from kindergarten.  We were celebrating Chaz's first day of school by going to a restaurant with parents who's kids also were starting their first day.  By the time we were done eating breakfast and I got home, we already had a message waiting from the school.  Chaz bit his teacher and we need to come and get him.  You're kidding me!  Now that I thought about it.... I had enrolled Chaz in a tougher school.  The kindergarten room didn't even look like one.  Remember the toys and pictures on the wall?  A friendly place?  This one had plain tables and white walls.  There was nothing to look at. Even the teacher was serious.  The next day the school calls again.  This time Chaz kicked a teacher and then ran away.  He ran right into a metal door and split his head open. Chaz wasn't even crying when I picked him up from school.  He walked towards me with a split forehead.  You could even see his skull it was that deep.  He just said "Hi, Mom" and got in the car.  As we were driving to the hospital, I was trying to figure out why my son was having such a hard time. They told us that it's only Chaz's second day and he has two strikes.  3rd time he's out for good.  There was no way I was gonna put him in the third day.  I was at a loss but enrolled him in another school.  This time a friendly looking one. The school calls right away and says Chaz is rolling all over the floor and won't sit in his seat.  This goes on all week.  What's wrong with me?  Was I that bad of a mom that I couldn't even train up my child properly enough that he could sit at a desk in a class? 

One day the school counselor walks up to me and hesitantly hands me a packet.  He tells me about Asperger Syndrome and thinks that Chaz could possibly have it.  I think he was worried about offending me. I wasn't offended.  More relieved.  I read his packet at home and it was like reading about Chaz.  That's when I called to set up his first meeting. 

On the way to the doctors Chaz asked what kind of toys might be there.  "Do you think she has toy soldiers?" 

"Maybe", I replied.

When we got there, she didn't have toy soldiers. But she had lots of other toys!  He asked me where the toy soldiers were and I said there wasn't any.  He started to get upset.  He cried and asked why I said there was toy soldiers when there wasn't.  For the entire hour that the doctor and I talked, he was looking for toy soldiers and asking me why I said there would be some.  He grew more and more upset and eventually crying.  I probably didn't look too good that day.  I was at my whits end and extremely stressed out.  Sad.  Anxious.  She said from everything I have shared about the last 5 years of his life and from what she is seeing in the office, he definitely had Asperger Syndrome.  Of course later I would get several other opinions just to make sure and they all matched up. 

It saddened me but then I was also relieved.  It explained SO much .  I wasn't a bad parent.  Chaz needs help.  Needs understanding.  Patience when working with him.  Now we were able to move forward. 

Ever since then it's been a journey.  We looked for schools, homeschooled, looked for schools again.  I've had many bad experiences and things I wish I had never done.  Such as putting him in a self contained classroom where he copied the behavior of other kids.  He would throw tables and chairs.  Yell at everyone.  Later I learned that was a bad idea. You  never put them in a classroom where they will copy those behaviors.  Ever since then he's been in a regular classrooms. I've had schools tell me they don't believe in Aspergers.  Schools that refuse to help him in any way.  One year I learned that he was placed in a desk outside the classroom in a white hallway.  He could only view his classroom from there. I didn't not find this out till the end of the year.  Boy was I furious. This is why kids were calling my son a freak.  That is how the teacher treated him.  I had no way of knowing because the school would only let you make an appointment to visit your child.  You could just walk in and see this going on.  You had to schedule at least a week in advance to visit.  I've had good and bad experiences and so it has been a challenge finding the right school for him.  I finally found the right place and it's taken 5 years.  They've one above and beyond to help Chaz.

Fight for your child! Don't just trust anyone. Communicate with your child, the teachers, the principal.  If you don't fight for him/her, who will?  Don't let them intimidate you.  Especially if your child has an IEP, that school gets extra funding to help your child and work with you.  If they won't, take the funding elsewhere to another school that deserves it and will work well with you.

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