There are two ways to react when you’re faced with the possiblity that your child (or children) might have a disability. You get mad, deny it completely, blame everyone else for suggesting something so wrong, shun anyone that could suggest such a thing and recluse your child from the world. Living your life in denial, shutting out the world, and ultimately doing nothing to help your child. Or, you take a long hard look at your situation, take into account that nobody’s perfect, swallow your pride and accept that maybe you do need external assistance for your child and for yourself. I did a little of both. I wasn’t angry that someone suggested that we might need some help, in fact I was relieved that someone had taken a genuine interest in my child and had the guts to tell me. I was very upset that I wasn’t a good enough parent to recognize that my son needed my help and I missed it.
So we got the contact information we needed and made an appointment for Gale with the Child Development Center at the University of Utah. The waiting list was several months long, but it was worth the wait. The person that interviewed Gale was amazing. He was so patient with Gale and knew exactly what to do to help him through the testing process. Gale was immediately taken with him and opened up more than I’d seen him do in his entire life. Like a typical Aspie, he was all over the place. Crawling on the table, bounding around the room, smacking the case worker, but when he was asked to complete a task he did it. Sure some times it took extra encouragement, but he did it. Even if he did it “wrong”, he still did it. The testing took several hours and by the time we were finished Gale was noticeably worn out. David was with us the whole time, but he kept to himself and slept on and off throughout the session.
While Gale was being tested, the case worker asked me questions about him. Does Gale make eye contact? Does he play with other children? Does he act out, often when there appears to be no reason? Does he have odd quirks that you wouldn’t expect to see? The questions were endless. Some of the things he asked applied to Gale, but what concerned me was that some of the questions didn’t just apply to Gale, but to David as well. In fact some of the questions seemed like he was talking specifically about David, not Gale. When we finished the testing session for Gale, I mentioned to the case worker that I was concerned about David based on what we had been discussing throughout the day. The case worker took everything I said seriously and suggested that it would be a good idea to have David tested as well.
When we left the CDC, the preliminary diagnosis was PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified), but we wouldn’t know for sure until awll the results were evaluated. PDD-NOS basically means that Gale is autistic, but his symptoms fall all over the range of the autism spectrum so they couldn’t put a specific label on him. Hence the not otherwise specified. I was sick to my stomach. My little boy is autistic & after David was evaluated, I might have two disabled boys. I made an appointment for David and loaded the kids in the car. I cried all the way home.
David’s evaluation didn’t seem as intense as Gale’s was. Probably because he’s two years younger than Gale, but the same case worker that evaluated Gale conducted David’s evaluation and he was just as amazing with David as he was with Gale. I envied his patience and his amazing skill for dealing with my boys. When the testing was completed, the case worker told me that he was sure that both boys had PDD-NOS and that as they grew that the final diagnosis would be Asperger’s Syndrome. Suddenly the term, Ass Burgers, wasn’t as funny as it had been years earlier on the sitcom.