Today was Oliver’s third of four appointments for his diagnostic evaluation series. If you haven’t read how the first two went, feel free to read back to “Diagnostic Evaluation Day 1” and “Diagnostic Evaluation Day 2”. A week from today will be the day that my son may or may not (though I’m 99.9% sure he will) be officially diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Something about this moment feels haunting. I woke up today, a Thursday, and the next time that I wake up to a Thursday will be a day that I forever remember. Having my growing worries confirmed will offer relief, anxiety, support, challenges, assurance, fear, and love– to say that I’m feeling mixed emotions is an understatement. I don’t want any of this for my precious baby boy, but it’s what we’re facing and I want him to feel comfortable in his skin and happy with his life, so this monumental marker will be our first step towards the “healing” portion of my blog’s title. I started this blog to document our entire journey: initial concerns, growing worries, bringing it up to his pediatrician, struggling to find an early intervention center, undergoing his initial evaluation at the early intervention center, receiving a diagnosis, and throughout the healing process that I have so much faith in. I have hope for my son and I believe that with a lot of love, determination, and hard work we will make a major change. With that said, I can revisit my opening sentence: “Today was Oliver’s third of four appointments for his diagnostic evaluation series”. We arrived, checked in, changed his diaper, played with toys in the waiting room, and we’re then greeted by the doctor we had worked with the prior two appointments and a doctoral student who was apprenticing her. They were both very warm and friendly with Oliver and he responded with his usual shutting of his eyes, so they “can’t see him”. I strolled him, alongside the two women, down the hall and to the elevator, where we went to a higher level to enter the testing room. The room was very similar to the other room (small, simple, no windows), but this room had video cameras in each corner and two tubs full of toys. The doctoral student instructed me to sit back and observe unless she asked me to participate. She conducted the evaluation, while the main doctor took notes on his responses. I will try my best to remember everything, but there were so many tests they did with the toys that were being pulled from these seemingly bottomless tubs (I felt as though I was witnessing a real life Mary Poppins moment). She pulled a frog out and hopped it across the table– he hopped it back (first time to do anything like this). She answered a telephone– he held the second telephone to his ear, too (first time to do anything like this). She stacked blocks– he lined them up. She then wanted to see if he could pretend; she sniffed a flower, flew a toy plane, and drove a car. In between each of these, she first let him copy her, then would do the same action with a wooden block (as if the block were the flower, plane, and car). He did a semi-alright job at copying her initial actions with the toys, but he didn’t respond to or imitate the original actions when they were done with the block. She had a stuffed animal rabbit that had a remote control to make it hop but he was indifferent to it (he’s not a fan of stuffed animals at home, either). She brought out a baby doll and a baby bath to get him to help her bathe it. His only motive in this game was to get the baby from her so that he could chuck it across the room and then sign “all done”; he doesn’t like babies, plastic or in the flesh. While I’m sure I’m forgetting something, the last thing that I remember is her blowing lots and lots of bubbles around the room. He lit up, wobbled around on his tip toes, and flapped his hands intensely. These bubbles were so stimulating and exciting for him and I was really glad that they got to see something that is typical at home, since he had decided to do so many brand new things for them. I know in my heart that Oliver has autism, but the thought of the chance of him not receiving a diagnosis scares me just as bad as him receiving one, if not more. I don’t know if our insurance will pay for another evaluation series down the road and to know that he wouldn’t be getting the help he needs makes me sick to my stomach. Over the course of this next week, I would appreciate encouragement, positive thoughts, and/or prayers that next Thursday afternoon goes smoothly and that I am able to continue on with a level head and an open heart. Thanks everyone! I’ll keep you all updated.