Our diagnosis of autism

I can still remember when Cody was a baby.  He was our first child and his pediatrician had given us a wonderful book as a guide and resource for all things developmental and milestone related.  It went age-by-age and of course my nose was in that book on a very regular basis.  As I read and watched him reach every milestone at what seemed like a pretty typical pace I was excited and proud to see him grow and achieve all that a young infant was typically expected to.  Suddenly, though, there was a change.  At around the age of 2 to 3 we noticed he wasn’t at the same pace anymore and some of the skills that he did have sort of diminished.  Part of this was with his speech.  Cody had a very talkative playmate who lived across the street from us, but she was a girl and we all know girls are way more talkative than boys, but we also knew that boys and girls develop differently.  Although, it wasn’t a huge concern for us, we certainly thought he may have a delay of some sort in the speech department.  We had him evaluated, his hearing was checked and found to be fine, and he began speech therapy once a week for an hour (not nearly enough).  We barely had a computer, let alone internet back then, so much of what we learned came from child development services.  We figured they would provide Cody with what he needed and didn’t question it at the time or ask for anything more than they suggested. 

I can still remember the day of his diagnosis, or at least the suggestion of his diagnosis.  I was pregnant with his little brother at the time and was attending a meeting to discuss his plan and discuss his progress as this was a pretty regular part of our lives.  Paul was at work because I often brought Cody to therapy appointments and attended meetings on my own and we didn’t think this would be out of the ordinary until somebody said the word.  Autism.  I don’t even have a clear recollection to be honest with you because the only exposure I had to autism was the movie Rainman so I’m pretty sure I just sat there in shock and probably looking for the nearest exit because I do recall feeling ganged up on, like they were somehow picking on me and my child because there was no way this word described him at all.  They had to be mistaken.  He had a slight speech delay in my mind and that was that.  We continued with speech therapy and added occupational therapy all the while still not quite sure if there was more we could, or should be, asking for.  I wish I had someone in my ear telling me to push for more answers.  Someone to guide me somehow.  I wish I was getting this diagnosis now, in 2011, and not in 1998, because I feel so much better armed and savvy and knowledgeable about the internet and the possibilities it can bring of hope and potential.  It was such a scary time in what felt like very foreign waters, but it wasn’t going to change any time soon and it was our job to advocate and take care of our child.

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