Diagnostic Evaluation Part 1

Today’s appointment was what they call an intake appointment. This was an hour and a half, where the doctor asked me 10 million questions. If you read my posts about our evaluation at the early intervention center, you know that he acted completely abnormally and was freakishly well-behaved. He contradicted many of the things that I was saying for the first time and it made me feel worried that they may think that I had made these behaviors and delays up. Of course, being the awesome team that they are, they completely understood and apparently see a lot of abnormal behavior in their evaluations. Anyways, to get back to the present, today’s evaluation went much differently. Oliver cried. And cried (and cried and cried and cried). He didn’t want his drink, he didn’t want his snack, he didn’t want his toys, he didn’t want to be held. The inconsolable crying made it hard to remain calm and focused on the doctor. He flapped his hands, ran in circles, spun in circles, got into a downward dog position, closed his eyes when the doctor looked at him, hit me, pushed me, covered his ears, etc. I tried the only thing that I had left and gave him my notebook and pen to doodle with and he was suddenly entranced and allowed our meeting to set forth. She asked me about his health, his diet, his sleep, his behaviors, his tantrums, his triggers, his regressions, his repetitive actions, his obsessive actions, and how he does in certain situations. She really liked that I had been keeping track of every single one of these things and brought a 9 page document full of them all, categorized by Behavioral, Social/Emotional, Speech and Sign, Regressions, and Sensory (I highly recommend that any parent with concerns do this, as it can be extremely difficult to remember everything, as regressions come and go and each day is different from the next). By the end of our meeting she had said that today’s appointment wasn’t even focused on Oliver and she, peripherally, saw a plethora of characteristics that she looks for and that the next two meetings will be evaluations/observations and then the final meeting will be the findings and a discussion of next steps. I feel like we’re headed in the right direction and I must say that it felt really nice to be heard. 

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Pre-Evaluation Thoughts

Oliver and I walked on a trail near Puget Sound before going into the UW Autism Center. We noticed the birds scavenging for leftover lunch crumbs, doctors decompressing, and groups of young people on sail boats soaking up the sun. As I felt the ocean air trace my body, I looked down at my beautiful boy and felt a sense of calmness overcome me. I love my boy with my entire being and while all of these appointments and books I have been reading have been to help me better understand what is wrong with my precious angel, I realized something that forever changed my mindset: there is nothing wrong with my son. While this may feel like a politically correct, “sugar coated” statement, I feel that the line between normal and abnormal is a spectrum in all human beings, including those who are neurotypical. While, yes, he has been facing certain struggles, they are his struggles and his peers have their own struggles that are different than my son and probably different than their friends’ challenges. He IS different, but so is everyone else. I fear for his future in being thought of as “less than” or “weird”, but I know deep in my soul that he is a unique little boy and that the only thing that all of these children have in common is that they are all different from one another. Encourage your children, your friends, your family, and your inner voice to stop thinking of your child as different, and start thinking of your child as different just like everybody else.  

Diagnostic Evaluation Day

In about 20 minutes I will be leaving for Oliver’s first appointment of his diagnostic evaluation. This appointment will be about an hour and a half and will be discussing my concerns as well as going over reports from his pediatrician, his audiologist, and his early intervention team. The following two appointments will be two hour observation sessions, and the final appointment will be a comprehensive report covering the neurologist’s reports. I am quite nervous, simply because I don’t know what to expect. Please send good thoughts our way. I will be publishing a follow up post this evening. 

Video Monitor

Because 30% of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder also experience seizures, I decided to replace Oliver’s audio-only baby monitor with an audio and video one. I am loving being able to see when he wakes up or what he’s doing if I hear an odd noise. I feel a lot more at ease knowing that I can check in on him without having to go in and wake him up.

Here’s the one that I bought:
Summer Infant In View Digital Color Video Monitor
29000_IMG_M-VIDEOMON_3Q_SILO_466X302

YOU SCREAM I SCREAM WE ALL SCREAM

It seems to me that Oliver is learning more and more everyday that incessant crying gets him what he wants. It is so difficult for me to allow him to cry when I know what he wants.  To encourage speech and language development, I need to push him to speak by suddenly not understanding his cries. I need to express to him that screaming and crying isn’t how we ask for milk or for a certain toy. My plan is to, from here on out, tell him, “I’m sorry buddy– I don’t understand screaming. Screaming doesn’t tell me WHAT it is that you want. Can you show me what you want? Can you sign to me what it is that you want? Can you tell me what you want?” I’m hoping that this will improve our current situation. I’m interested in hearing from others who have been in similar situations and how you addressed it. 

A Little Bit About Me

I thought that I would share a little bit about myself, since I haven’t given any background in that area thus far. My name is Savannah and I am a 19 year old single mother to my beautiful, life changing baby boy Oliver. When I graduated high school, I was three months pregnant and, little did I know, my life was going to be majorly different that I had originally planned it out to be. When I uncovered this news, I began working 6 days a week while taking a full load of classes at a community college. After having Oliver, I cut down my work to two half days a week, and have since started 3 additional part time, after hour house and office cleaning jobs. When I’m not working any of my four jobs or playing with my little one, I still go to school full time (via eLearning at the community college) and am currently 8 days away from having my Associates of Arts and Sciences with a concentration of Psychology. I was going back and forth between several Bachelor’s programs/majors, but am now 99% sure that I want to embark on a path towards becoming a Special Educator with an Autism focus. As I learn more, and read more, and am connected to people in similar situations, I realize that this may have been exactly how my life was supposed to pan out because my son, the love of my life, was brought into my life to spark a passion to help, learn, and teach him and others like him. I am also a certified Yoga Teacher and am, next month, going through a month long Special Needs Yoga Teacher training and am still brainstorming where I will go with that (I’m thinking that great things are going to be coming soon after my completion of that program). I started this blog to show others how early intervention therapies, diet/lifestyle changes, supplementation of vitamins and minerals, and alternative/integrative treatments can help. We are at the very beginning of our (his) journey, but I hold an abundance of hope that we will, with time, heal Oliver. 

First Early Intervention Therapy Appointment

Today was Oliver’s first appointment with the Special Educator from his Early Intervention center. It was a 50 minute session and we went over what to expect from each visit and scheduling, then she observed how Oliver and I play/interact and then gave suggestions for how to build on the foundation that I have already set.

What I learned today:
– When playing with Oliver at his toy table, I will sit across from him rather than next to him, because he will have a better chance at working on eye contact if I am across from him.
– When sharing a toy with him, I will make it over the top exciting by being more animated and enthusiastic that usual. I will capture his interest and engage his eye contact and attention by being a more silly and fun person.
– When Oliver gets frustrated while playing, I will acknowledge his feelings rather than immediately comforting him by telling him that it’s okay. By saying “I see that you’re frustrated. I understand that this upsets you. Why don’t we try this instead?” he is learning to regulate his emotions, think outside the box, and listen to others’ ideas. I’m so excited to keep learning from his team at the Early Intervention center and will continue to write up what I learned after each weekly appointment.

playing with others by doing so.