I've written before about the disasterous experiences we have had when having Oliver evaluated at various clinics by so-called experts. The last time we drove an hour for an evaluation at a highly reputable children's clinic that is part of a University Hospital. The good doctor spent about a half hour with Oliver and then basically told us: "Yup, he's got autism." To which I should have responded: "And what? We've paid you a gazillion dollars to tell us that?" After that I determined that I would never put Oliver -- or ourselves -- through something like that again.
But I've changed my mind. Last week I finally got my copy of The Fabric of Autism and the way author Judith Bluestone writes about autism, about sensory problems and about how they lead to certain familiar manifestations was incredibly exciting to me. It all made sense. I couldn't read it fast enough. I got half-way through reading each page completely and then couldn't contain myself and kept skipping and skimming through the rest of the book. Then I picked up the phone and called the HANDLE Institute in Seattle. Even before I spoke to Nik about it I knew that I wanted to take Oliver there to be evaluated. Luckily I found out that they also conduct evaluations in New Jersey and Atlanta, both of which are closer for me. And so in December we will make the long drive to New Jersey to start Oliver on a HANDLE program. And in the meantime I feel like I've been given a window through which to view my little boy and to understand better what motivates him to do certain things. I also particularly like her take on the Theory of Mind.
Anyway, Oliver had a kind of rough day yesterday. He woke up and immediately started biting his nails -- something we have been trying to stop for months with no luck. He wasn't able to focus well during his morning therapy session and cried a lot and seemed anxious in the afternoon. After such a long string of incredibly good days lately I had to wonder what was going on with him. Then I wondered if it had to do with our latest home renovation project. I'm paining the bathroom and have been using an oil-based primer. Even though I've been keeping the windows open and the exhaust fan on, it has taken a few days for the fumes to dissapate. After reading Bluestone's book I wonder if maybe it is the smell that is causing Oliver some extra anxiety.
A funny aside about the nail -biting is that my poor boy's fingernails are so short that he can't possibly bite them down any further and has started trying to bite MY nails!
Happy October, everyone! And may the fresh autumn air blow away all of our gassy fumes!