A couple weeks ago when I talked to one of Jack’s doctors about getting him diagnosed on the autism spectrum she asked that I get a quick statement from each of his teachers with what they thought about this.
One of his teachers wrote out an example of a typical day in her classroom with the way Jack typically responded to each activity. Great.
His special ed teacher responded to my inquiry with an email after checking with the school’s team to see what they thought. These people (occupational therapist, speech pathologist, etc…), none of whom give Jack services, but who do see him in the classroom, said that they did not think Jack presented as autistic. They put forth that most of his problems were behavioral.
I didn’t write about it at the time because it sort of upset me. First, right after his doctor had agreed with me that he seemed to be on the spectrum, a group of professionals was telling me that he wasn’t.
Second, as I had thought a lot about Jack, I was sure that he did not just have behavioral problems, that something about him is fundamentally different from the neurotypicals. And it made me wonder what kind of support he would be getting there if they couldn’t see him for who he is.
Third, by saying his problems were behavioral, they were kind of implying that we are bad parents and his issues are my and Alex’s fault. Okay, maybe that’s not what they were implying, but that is what I inferred.
Since I got that email, I have done a lot of close watching of Jack. And the kid is different. He’s fucking awesome, but he’s different. I could go into a lot of details here, details about how he can’t/won’t answer a question correctly about anything that happened in the past or that is slightly abstract, but that at age 4 he obsessively writes the letters of the alphabet and insists on spelling every word he can think of while reciting scripts of things that happen in his classroom, but I won’t. I won’t because this post would get far too long and I’d probably end up sad or angry.
What I will say is that Jack is an amazing little dude with different strengths and weaknesses, but his brain works differently than most kids his age, including his brothers, one of whom (Quinn) is surpassing him in social skills, while the other (Sam, very smart in his own right) is just keeping up with him academically.
Anyway, this is all a long preface to what I wanted to write about what Jack’s special ed teacher said to me today. When I dropped Jack off, she waved me over to talk to me. She said that someone had spotted Jack stimming while he was eating lunch. This led she and I to have a conversation in which she said that, although she does not like to label kids early, she thought Jack could be PDD or Asperger’s.
Part of me didn’t realize quite how much her email suggesting that he was not autistic bothered me until she said today she thought he was on the spectrum. My spirits were noticably higher as I drove away from the school and I realized how upset I had felt that his teachers did not see such a fundamental thing about him. That they did not see something that was so obvious to me.
So now his teachers say they think he is autistic. His doctors say they think he is autistic. I say I think he is autistic.
‘Nuff said. For today at least.