I've been doing a lot of thinking since Lex's speech therapist gave us his recommendation for the Autism diagnosis on Monday. I realized that it wasn't a surprise that we got this diagnosis for Lex. I've kind of known since he was tiny that there was something about him that made him different than other kids his age, not a bad different, just different. I think I just thought I felt that way because he was my baby and other kids weren't.
His speech delay was a big surprise for me. I started talking early and Nate never stops talking, so I thought he'd pick up words left and right. I had high hopes after his initial speech evaluation and when we got started with those services at the hospital. I was kind of in denial that there was much going on other than a simple speech delay. As time moved on and he had only picked up the sign for "more" and wasn't saying much other than "mama" and "dada" I started to worry that we weren't doing the best we could for him. At that point we added occupational therapy at the hospital with the thought that he had sensory integration dysfunction and that his sensory problem was the reason he didn't talk. After a few months of doing both speech and OT and Lex showing minimal improvement we decided to try a different mode of therapy, birth to 3 through our county. His initial evaluation with his current speech therapist showed he was far behind in expressive language and it was hard to judge how far he was on comprehensive language. We started services in September with Lex having speech twice a week, one at home and one at daycare. I saw more improvement at that point but I was afraid to get my hopes up again. We added OT in November realizing that he most definitely had sensory integration problems.
We've just been chugging along right up to the point when his speech therapist asked us if he could do a new autism screening test on Lex. Lex was the first child he was going to try this screening tool on but since he knows Lex pretty well he figured he could test him pretty accurately. At that point it clicked for me, I did a little more research and after the test I just knew. When David sat down with us to discuss the results I think he was surprised I didn't cry. But for me this was validation. I had been right in my thoughts about Lex having the dual conditions of autism and sensory processing disorder.
We are going to continue speech and OT services with the county until Lex turns 3 and then we'll be moving up to the school district but I remain hopeful that one day you won't be able to tell Lex is any different than his neurotypical peers. Even if that day never comes I know my son is still an amazing child that wows me everyday and will continue to wow me.
I don't worry that he'll have problems in school or that he'll have a hard time making friends, my only worry is that we didn't do enough soon enough. I have heard from a co-worker that is the mother of a child with Asperger's that I'm definitely doing the best for Lex right now and it's amazing how much we have done in the last few months but I'll always worry there's more we can do.