It's been about a month and a half since we got confirmation that Michael was indeed on the Autism Spectrum. It's amazing, that even though we were pretty sure he was on the spectrum, how difficult it is to process the diagnosis of PDD NOS. There are times that I have these doubts that he actually has PDD, but then something happens and I realize that it is just my denial that he actually has PDD. I'm not in total denial that he has it, I guess at times, I hope that he does't have it, but in reality I know he does.
One of the things that makes it so difficult to fully accept (or at least I think that this is one thing) is that people (family and friends) want to deny that he has it and when we tell them that he has this diagnosis, they say that they don't believe he has it. I know that they mean well, but it just fosters that doubt in my own mind.
He was just evaluated for sensory issues, and the occupational therapist that saw him felt that some of the sensory seeking behaviors that he has are ways that he has developed to help him when he is over stimulated. This is another area where people say things like: all 4 year olds do that or that's normal behavior. I think on some level what Michael does is normal behavior, except that how often he does it and when and why he does it, is not normal developmental behavior. On the other hand, if his behaviors are his coping mechanism for overstimulation, I am pretty impressed with his ability to figure out what he needs to decompress. I think at this point, we need to find ways to help him so that he doesn't need to seek out these regulating behaviors.
We are going to see OT for 3-5 sessions to help figure out a "sensory diet" to see if that will help him not need to seek out things to decrease him stimulation, or at least help him not to get over stimulated on a regular basis. I'm sure that there are going to be times where he will still get overstimulated, but if we can help to decrease these times, maybe he will feel better.
It was amazing to watch him after his evaluation. It kind of brought home, once again, that there really is an issue. At the end of the evaluation, when my husband and I were getting the results, Michael started doing his water play. He started at the sink, then he started leaving the OT room and repeatedly going back and forth between the OT room and the water fountain in the waiting room. The other 2 kids, who had been there as long waiting for Michael's evaluation to be finished, were playing in a more "normal" or "appropriate" way, such as playing with the different toys in the room. When Michael gets like this, it can be difficult to distract him and get him to focus on something else.
Michael is still my sweet lovable boy and all of his evaluations start with a similar description. All I want for him is to be happy. I want him to have a happy, fun, good life. I think with the appropriate interventions, he will do fine. I think he may always have some "quirkiness" to him, but I think he will be fine.
I'm not sure that this is totally clear. I guess, I am still processing everything that we have just learned and I know that there are still things that we need to learn. If anyone has any thoughts that they want to share or stories that they want to share, please do. I know that I am going to more than likely start looking for a support group to talk to others who either are in the situation that we are, or who have already been there!