Tag - spectrum

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A Magnificent Boy
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Our Spectrum Revisited

A Magnificent Boy

He runs like a gust of wind, fast and brisk. Every now and then, he looks back to see if I’m still following. Of course I am, I’ve been chasing him for years. At last his hand is within my reach and I grab it, hold on tight. Any other time I would put the brakes to his elopement but I see his face and it radiates such pure joy, I allow him to pull me along.

And so we run.

We run hand in hand as the wind whips through our hair. Even though it is night and even though we are surrounded by crowds at a football game, I feel everything still into this perfect moment: me and my boy flying through space. I am part of his world in this moment. When he looks up at me, it’s as if in slow motion, his face a breathtaking picture of contentment, mischief and love. His face tells me more about what he’s feeling than any words could.

I feel the same desperate love lurch from my body as I did the day he was born and they gave him and his brother to me to hold. It’s so brutal and exquisite all at the same time.

I think of this as I read the results of his neuropsych evaluation, a report so stark, so black and white, I throw it across the room. I am knocked down by its coldness and surprised that my grief lies dormant so close to the surface. The sobs I hear, the sobs I cry are so violent — am I still grieving?

Expressive and receptive language skills roughly equivalent to those of a 2-year-old child; daily living skills…a 1-year, 10-month to 2-year, 5-month-old child; socialization skills…an 8-month-old to 1-year, 4-month-old child.

The gap widens the older he becomes.

I remind myself this is just another moment in time, a day in which John was at the tail-end of a strep infection. I remind myself that it is hard to test someone with John’s unique verbal challenges and that just like receiving that first diagnosis, he is still the same boy. I tell myself that I’m not a failure as his mom, as his primary teacher. It is what it is. And he’s a happy child, an amazing boy with abilities to be discovered over time. He is not this report. My grief lies in seeing anyone dare sum him up this way. Why oh why must he be summed up at all?

I remember chasing him across the football field and then how we ran together. I think of all the moments he reveals himself to us, moments of stunning technicolor, his soul bare for all to witness. What if I could gather all these moments, like a cup of jewels, and write my own report. I would start with: A gust of wind, a magnificent boy.

Our Spectrum Revisited

Over the last year, Sam has made so many strides that his dad and I started to wonder if maybe he was losing his diagnosis. It is one thing to discuss it secretly between us, but quite another for his developmental pediatrician to say, “If he were to be tested again, he might fall off the spectrum,” as she did at our last visit.

So we got on one waiting list after another — for OT and speech assessments and the ADOS, or the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. This is probably the only test that the boys have NOT had and it’s supposed to be a pretty good indicator of ASD, especially with very verbal kids like Sam.

Six months came and went and still no appointment for the ADOS. One day Kennedy Krieger Institute called to ask if we’d participate in a new research study, one that looks at identical twins to see if environmental factors, but not vaccines, might have something to do with “turning on” an autism gene. And could they administer the ADOS to both boys at our convenience?

I have always wondered if John’s early years in the hospital had something to do with the severity of his autism, if maybe a MRSA infection in a 4-month-old baby followed by a four-week course of vancomycin might have contributed in some way.

This study might show that it did.

Not that we would have done one thing differently back then. John needed heart surgery. Because of it he got a staph infection, but without the drugs to treat it, he would have not survived.

But what if we had known that John would be susceptible to developing autistic disorder if his tiny body experienced such trauma? What if even a little extra care in disinfecting his room, the crib slats; limiting visitors to just his parents — what if it could have prevented the MRSA infection? I have no doubt he’d still be on the spectrum, this is just what I believe — but would he be more like his brother?

And will this make me grieve if I find out?

I often come here simply to share something in our lives only to find that I’m not sure how I feel after all.

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