"Your son meets the criteria for a diagnosis of autism."
The words still sting a bit.
It's been two weeks since my husband and I sat in the office following Little C's assessment.
It was a surprise, and it wasn't a surprise.
It was definitely surreal, hearing those words spoken.
It was definitely emotional.
It was definitely hard to hear.
To be honest, C was a total rockstar at the assessment. I was (and still am) so very proud of him. He immediately took to the team and seemed to have fun. He showed off all his skills - pretend play, talking, letters, colours, shapes, fine motor, gross motor, puzzles, matching, and so much more. Sometimes he did more than I expected, and sometimes I knew he could do better, but that's okay. It was a long day, and he can't be 100% all the time.
Honestly, the best part of the day was that I got to sit back and watch. I couldn't interject or clarify anything for him, so I had to just sit, and watch in amazement. It made me realize just how far he's come in the past year. This time last year, we were just starting to work with a Speech Language Pathologist. Since then, there have been so many changes in him. A year ago, he couldn't say any words. Now he has many, many words, and his vocabulary grows every day. He also seems to understand EVERYTHING. A year ago, he couldn't sit still for 2 minutes and now he can sit through a 30 minute SLP session, with very little complaining. He is making much better eye contact, and although it takes him a little while to warm up to new places and faces, he is much more friendly with new people.
In the end, the diagnosis was made. He has autism. We had a feeling it would come, but it was still hard to hear. Sitting in that room and listening to the psychologist, I couldn't seem to process what I was hearing. In the weeks leading up to the assessment, I found myself saying to my husband, "We have to be prepared for the chance that he could be diagnosed." We had talked a lot about how it didn't really change anything. C would still be the same awesome kid. We'd still be the luckiest parents to have him as our son. And we would still work on what he needed to work on, just as we always have. Still. It was hard to hear the words. The assessment team was very nice and very supportive and gave us time to process, let it sink in a little, and talk it out with them.
We made it clear that C is so much more than a label, and we wouldn't use it as an excuse. We'll keep working, just as we have up to this point. He is a loving, funny, smart little boy, and I would never wish him to be any different than he is. This new word is just one small piece of him.
I'm a firm believer that in the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." With this diagnosis, our village has grown. That's comforting to realize, when there are so many things I'm not sure of. It's nice to know we're not alone.