Dear Dr. D-
I could just hug you.
If you knew me better, you’d know that hugging isn’t my thing. But leaving your office today after our first follow up visit since Howie’s diagnosis, I felt like I could fly.
Because you called me “Super Mom”.
It’s clear I fooled you, but it doesn’t matter. You said it and you can’t take it back.
You called me “Super Mom”.
You were impressed by how far we’ve come in just a year. You told me Howie’s IEP was one of the most comprehensive IEP’s you’d seen in a while. When we talked about all the supports and services he was receiving, you were excited because you could tell it was helping.
You told me I clearly had a great team put together. Your eyes widened when you saw Howie write his name – not just because it was legible, but because his grip on the crayon was so much better. We talked about his OT supports and the fact that we’ve worked sensory breaks into his daily log sheet. You asked about speech, and when I told you he didn’t qualify for direct services you weren’t surprised, but reminded me to keep an eye on his pragmatics. I told you his one-on-one aide is always with him to help facilitate social interactions in the classroom, and at playdates at home I’m there to help. I said he was starting to pretend play, and interact better with peers. I told you it was getting easier. You said you could tell.
And that’s when you called me “Super Mom”.
You told me to push for a social speech group for him. Maybe not in preschool, but definitely for kindergarten next year.
When you asked about home supports, you were clearly asking to see if I was getting help myself. I told you that we used our home services during the spring, but this fall I have kind of let it slide. I said I just didn’t know how to translate our home issues into a concrete problem to be solved. When you suggested that the teacher just come in and simply observe – Supernanny style – it made sense. You said it might be something as simple as listening to our interactions, and tweaking our language. Even in our small amount of time together, you heard me ask Howie to do things, instead of telling him it was time to do things. You reminded me that if he doesn’t have a choice in the situation, don’t give him one. It creates a climate for non-compliance. I didn’t even know I was doing it.
I said the hardest thing at home right now were sibling issues. It was difficult keeping Gerry from getting frustrated and angry when Howie can’t control his behaviors. I said that with Lewis I couldn’t tell what were actual behavior issues, or just mimicking Howie’s stimming. And I shared that it was getting harder to help Lewis understand the difference between right and wrong, because with every wrong choice, Howie is there laughing and egging him on. You reminded me that this is exactly what the home services are for.
Then, seemingly from left field, you asked me more about Lewis. Nonchalantly, like it was part of the conversation. I forgot that you didn’t know about all the EI testing we’ve been through, so I quickly filled you in. Long story short, he has speech delays but didn’t qualify for services, but we weren’t really concerned about any other areas. You took it all in, and suggested we do a full developmental assessment anyway through your 0-3 clinic, just to make sure. The only reason not to, you said, was to keep from raising my anxiety level. We laughed together when I said that it was too late. I realized later you were concerned about the younger sibling link to increased risk of spectrum disorders. You care. And I’m so grateful.
Your next steps were clear and concise. In a year or two, we’ll talk about neuropsych evaluations, but you didn’t see it necessary now. You also mentioned we should start looking into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy methods, because high functioning kids like Howie respond really well to that around age six or seven. You thought he was too young now at age four, but we should keep it on the back of our minds.
I mentioned that our annual IEP review meeting was coming up in January. “Don’t let them change a thing”, you said.
Finally, I asked the big question. Considering all the progress we’ve made in such a short period of time, considering where we are now…was he misdiagnosed?
No. You were clear. Howie meets the criteria for high functioning autism. His successes, you said, were because of the excellent services we’ve received. And again, you told me “don’t let them change a thing.”
I won’t. I’ve never been so happy to keep the status quo.
You called me “Super Mom”. And after this appointment, I feel like I could save the world.
“I am I am I am Superman and I know what’s happening.
I am I am I am Superman and I can do anything.” – Superman by REM