Friday, March 18, 2011

My Second Child on the Spectrum

Writing this, only hours have passed since getting my daughter's Asperger's diagnosis.  Every post that I have written so far has been about my son.  Starting today, I will write about my daughter as well.

My daughter, she just turned four in January, is the happiest, calmest little gal you will every meet.  Always singing, loves spinning dresses, cats, princesses...the typical girl.  What started concerning me was the lack of wanting to play with other children her same age.  I assumed that it was because she is home with me and her brother all of the time and is lacking that social piece that you get from being at daycare or school.  She was at a great daycare for two and a half years before I decided to stay home.

When I decided to stay home I decided not to stay home.  Sounds contradicting?  Well, although I get to "stay home" with the kids, "at home" is rarely where we are.  Between playgroups, story times, gymnastics, lego club, sports...we are never home!  I know that social development is so important that I knew they needed more than me in their lives.

Learning about Kyle and his diagnosis of Asperger's (something I had never heard about until like three years ago) I found it very important to research everything I could about the spectrum.  One piece I learned was that it is diagnosed more in boys than girls and one reason for this is that girls have different ways of showing it.  The little hints I was getting from Caitlin, my wonderful little girl, I first passed off as paranoia.  The lack of social progression I passed off as that she was the baby of the family and that she "stays at home" with me.  I started to become worried, spoke with the pediatrician (who was equally, if not more concerned) and then she was evaluated by child development doctors.  They were very glad that I listened to my instincts instead of passing them off.

So, I was sitting in the room (Caitlin was hiding in the corner) when they went over the evaluations.  I answered a few questions they wanted to clarify, and then they gave me the diagnosis.  The process was so fast compared to my son (that took years of evaluating, but there is more going on with the ADHD piece with that too) that I really wasn't expecting an answer today.  But when they delivered it, it was like my heart sank.  I can't even begin to express all of the emotions that went through my body.  I was sad for her, happy that I listened to my instincts, relieved that it is something that we can work on, guilt because I feel that it is my fault somehow.  Guilt, I know that I didn't cause it, but it is my genetics that have caused it.  I had contemplated whether or not to have two more kids down the road.  Well, 66.67% of my biological children are on the chances are if I had more, they would be too.  I am not saying it is a negative thing to be on the spectrum, but it takes extra time, effort, patience, and money to care for kids on the spectrum and how much time will I have to devote to all of my kids and make sure that I am meeting everyone's needs, including my own?  I am not able to answer this now but it is on my mind.

The car ride home...I took the long way.  Nice pleasant backroads.  I was able to breathe, chill, cry, without the rush of the interstate traffic.  I made some phone calls, but I lost service for a big part which I think was a good thing because it let my brain just mellow out.  Writing this, I still feel like I am in a fog.

So, today is day one.  Tomorrow is another day.  What I have learned from today will help to make tomorrow even better.

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