I've been scarce lately. The usual demands of family and household coupled with the extra lovely weather have kept me from taking up my usual end-of-the-day-too-tired-to-do-anything-else post in front of the computer.
Also, I am trying to take a break from autism. Because around my house -- or at least around my head -- it is all autism all the time. Since Oliver's diagnosis on August 4, 2005, I have barely thought of anything else. So now I'm practicing taking time off. And by that I don't mean that I'm taking time off from Oliver, but just from the autism. I want to regain some of what I lost when the word autism came to rest with us. I want to remember what it was like to look at Oliver as a whole little boy and not a list of behaviors and characteristics. He deserves that. And so do I.
Last Thursday we took Oliver to a medical center in a nearby city so that he could be evaluated by a developmental pediatrician. I had been putting it off because we already had two evaluations, one through the school district and another through a local university. But a friend, who is a neuropsychologist, urged me to take him to see a specialist so that we could rule out any other conditions that might present autism-like characteristics. I didn't believe that to be the case but figured that we might as well check the box anyway. In some ways I wish we hadn't.
But I'm also glad that I waited until this point in our journey to check the box because I felt empowered by having 8 months of experience and knowledge under my belt. I didn't doubt for one second that I was the expert in the room when it came to Oliver. It also became clear to me how one-dimensional these assessments are and I made up my mind on the drive home that I will never have him evaluated or assessed in this way again. What is the point? Why should I keep measuring him when I see before me a child who loves, laughs, and is full of potential?
I asked the specialist at the end of the evaluation about her practice. She follows more than 2,000 children in our state. She sees an average of 20 new children each week. She was very kind and wonderful with Oliver but I left feeling as though I contributed to the statistics she will use in her next paper but that we got very little out of it. She said she wants to see us again in six months but I doubt we will keep the appointment.
Oliver did pee on the potty in the public rest room though. He'd never done that before so we were thrilled. And at the end of the three-plus hours in a small room with 5 adults he started hitting himself in the head with the mega-blocks. He'd never done that before, either, and we weren't so thrilled. Actually, after three-plus hours, he wasn't the only one who felt like hitting himself in the head.
Autism rules my life at the moment, and probably will for a long time to come. And that's OK, I guess, because even though I came to motherhood slowly, I'm still the mom after all. But the trick, and the test, is not letting it rule Oliver's life.
And If I do, just hit me in the head with a mega-block, OK?