2016: The Year of the Autism Diagnosis

2016 was a rough year for us.  We had a lot of financial expenses—new central air conditioning unit, new-to-us car for my husband—but it wasn’t just the financial expenses that made our 2016 difficult.

2016 was also the year that one of our kids got diagnosed with high-functioning autism.  Our kids are 6.5, 8 and 12.5, so this was a late diagnosis, and in the beginning, a complete shock to us.

What We Thought of When Thought of Autism

See, my brother had cerebral palsy, and he played on a Challenger Little League team specifically designed for special needs kids.  My brother was in a wheelchair, but most of the other kids weren’t.  Instead, most of them had Down Syndrome or autism.

I was familiar with autism in that respect.  I had seen the kids with autism become agitated and suddenly start striking themselves or verbalizing with random noises of irritation.  I had seen them stare off into space without being able to make eye contact.  When I thought of autism, that’s what I thought of.

High-Functioning Autism Can Look Different

Our child did not behave that way.  Our child is extremely bright and capable academically.  Our child can and does make eye contact.

But our child has always had trouble making friends—has in fact had little interest in making friends.  Our child has trouble sharing.  Our child focuses on one topic of interest with laser point focus and talks about it. . .a lot.

The first time we heard an expert mention to us that it might be autism, we looked to Dr. Google and read the symptoms of Asperger’s (which is no longer called that, instead it is just called high-functioning autism).  Our child had many of the symptoms.

There were a few months when we wondered if it was really true.  That might have been our denial phase, but the evidence was clear.  Finally in December, we got an official diagnosis, which also included a treatment plan.

Treatment Plan

Our child is now receiving some of the treatment recommended and is benefitting enormously.  I’m still wrangling with insurance to try to get some therapies covered.  If I can’t get anywhere with insurance, we do have other options such as getting services through the local schools or through the state.  We’re not sure which option we’ll pursue.

Right now the therapy we are getting is enough.  Our schedule can only handle two or three appointments/therapy sessions a week, so that’s what we’re doing.

We paid a lot out of pocket for treatment in 2016, so we’re trying to slow that down in 2017.

How This Changes My Blog Content a Bit

You may notice a slight shift in my blog content thanks to this diagnosis.  I’m reading many books on high-functioning autism that will show up in my book reviews.  I’ll likely share (later) our process of finding treatment and getting it paid for.  We’ve changed our curriculum for all of the kids this January, and I’ll likely write a few posts about that.

Even though this diagnosis came as a shock, it also helps explains some of the behaviors and quirks this child has exhibited for quite a while.  We’re encouraged that therapy is already helping, and we look forward to raising this child to be a successful, happy, productive adult who just has a little bit different spin on the world than others.

This post is part of Blogging through the Alphabet in conjunction with other Crew Review Bloggers.  Read more posts here:

A Net In Time Schooling
Photo courtesy of idpinthat.

Comments

  1. I know that was a hard thing to find out but it was also a good thing to know while your child is young and still trainable. My sister is 25 and she was diagnosed at about 3. She was born right before the explosion of autism was widely noticed so our doctor was basically clueless. She was very bright and advanced for her age until about 2. She potty trained at 18 months and talked great but completely lost all those skills suddenly. The dr just told my mom that she was the baby of the family and so she didn’t need to talk. My mom knew that wasn’t it. Becca would not look at us anymore or respond in the same way. She wanted to watch Bambi continuously all day. Eventually she was diagnosed with autism, not deafness(which my mom was expecting). She is the joy of my moms life now! It’s not easy but we all love and cherish her and are fiercely protective. I homeschool too and know tons of aspergers children of all levels. I’ve read about people that the world never knew had aspergers. Basically any inventor or musician that were considered eccentric. Edison, the wright brothers, Beethoven, Einstein, the list goes on and on. So take heart your child is just one in a long line of extremely talented people destined to sculpt humanity and its legacy! I will pray for guidance and comfort for your child and your family also:)

  2. fascinating. 🙂 really… I used to work with autistic children, so I find this condition an interesting one to read about. 🙂 Thanks for joining in on blogging through the alphabet.

  3. Best of luck moving forward. While it’s certainly not something I’m sure you wanted to hear, the good news is that you know and can now work with that knowledge in hand. Plus there are a lot of support systems available that you can work with to get help and help others.

  4. I cannot imagine the expense of such therapies. Praying that the Lord will continue to provide for you as you walk this road. I look forward to reading more here. Joining you for the AtoZ challenge.

  5. I’m sure that it was quite a shock to get this diagnosis at an older age for your child. I hope that you are able to get insurance to help cover some of the therapy.

  6. Thank you for sharing your journey. I look forward to working with you at the Review Crew this year. My son, now 15, was diagnosed with Aspergers at age 11. Homeschooling my son has been the best decision for him. It allows him one on one attention. He isn’t bullied. And, I’ve learned how to add therapies into our every day lessons. Story cubes are a great resource as our conversation card games. These help foster communication skills. Idioms are another area we have worked on to help him learn language skills. Games are also great because they foster turn taking. The other thing I like about homeschooling is that we can work on Life Skills that get passed over in schools: personal hygiene, finances (counting money, balancing a checkbook), telling time, time management, keeping appointments, etc. If I can be a source of help, please feel free to give me a shout. Praying for your year to be filled with peace and joy, dear one.

  7. Wonderful post. My daughter was diagnosed with Autism 2 years ago. It’s tough with all the weekly therapy appointments. I feels like they will never end! I have seen progress and that is what keeps me going.

  8. Our family has not had to walk this road, but it will be interesting to read about your journey, as so many families around us are dealing with similar issues and situations. Thank you for being willing to share with us so we can all learn.

  9. Praying for you through this journey. We are actually trying to get my husband diagnosed with high functioning autism or Asperger’s. He had issues his entire life, and then once we started reading up on it, it started making sense to us. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    • I hope your husband finds answers. Once we realized how many symptoms applied for our child, we knew we had to pursue this further.

  10. Melissa, thank you for sharing this. I am so glad for y’all that you are seeing some benefits. May God bless you and strengthen you as you go!

    Melanie(Wren)

  11. First of all, good job mama! High functioning autism is “fun”. It takes a strong mom and family to help support such a strong child! I loved reading your post and nodding my head to a lot of it. I will be praying for you, for your family and all of your children. I am thankful that you spent time to join us for this series and I look forward to reading more!

  12. Good luck on this journey. – Lori

  13. A different spin on life…I really like how you worded that! I have a couple friends with HFA children, they each have their own spins on life – and a lot of joy!

  14. While we don’t deal with autism, we have been on a similar road with ADHD, giftedness, and learning disabilities in more than one child. Our average number of medical appointments in a month is 7-8. I am blessed to telecommute and have a float position so I can choose what days and hours I work, otherwise I would not be working at all. We use the Superflex social thinking curriculum at home. It’s a little expensive, but I found it cheaper on Ebay. Some of the books are in comic format, which our son likes.

    • You’re so right, juggling appointments can be difficult! I haven’t heard of Superflex. I’ll have to look into that one.

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