Four months ago I called our county regional center to request an evaluation. Mostly because our school district has been dismissive. More on them in a bit.
Three months ago they agreed to see us and scheduled me in.
Two months ago I attended their mandatory shpiel and gave them all the necessary intake process paperwork.
One month ago they interviewed Jack (and Justin and myself) for about an hour and a half. Jack did a pretty good job in the interview. He whined about wanting to leave almost the entire time (good display of anxiety), continually requested a small black crayon which was missing from their supply (good display of rigidity), etc. When he asked Jack if he had any friends Jack (very quickly) responded "no". Had to chuckle. However, our case worker/interviewer repeatedly commented on how well Jack was doing so I wasn't sure whether or not we'd be given an evaluation.
Last Friday they called and this morning we went in for our evaluation. Again Jack showed his anxiety asking over and over again to go to preschool. He did the puzzles and answered their questions but in almost each activity his "non-compliance" eventually appeared and he'd ask again to leave so we could go to preschool or he would make it seem like he couldn't do the puzzle (or whatever) and would squeal and say "it's too hard, we need to leave". By the end of the evaluation I was even more prepared for a diagnosis than when we arrived and by this time Jack was laying on the floor lifting his head occasionally to ask if we could leave. I answered countless questions, drawing upon his most concerning of behaviors, his scripting, his delays, the difficult time between ages two and three. The psychologist explained to me what she perceived and she was indeed thorough. She explained that Jack did not exemplify autism, PDD-NOS, or asperger's and why. We went over the symptoms he has and therapies and activities that we can be doing to help with them. She felt strongly that many of Jack's symptoms stem from anxiety and gave me the names of some books to read and some resources to look into.
When we were standing in the doorway ready to leave she touched my shoulder and said "I think it's time for you to put autism out of your thinking and focus on these specific areas of concern". That line hit home and I took a new kind of oxygen into my lungs. To say I feel relieved doesn't fit. I do, however, feel empowered. I feel that we have made progress with the things we have currently set in place and that we have even more resources to explore. Last Friday Jack's OT (occupational therapist) said she felt Jack's anxiety was keeping him curled in and making it difficult for him to expand and take hold of his environment. That may sound vague but it makes a lot of sense and having his anxiety pegged as a road block twice in the span of a few days feels like a new neon sign on my radar. We've been aware of and working with Jack's anxiety for a long time and it's something I have experienced and waded through in my own life. I am very inspired to dig even deeper into it!
We haven't had our annual IEP meeting yet with the school district but it is around the corner and they approved Jack for 30 minutes per week of OT and also 30 minutes per week of adaptive PE for this year. I asked for "homework" and was given a lengthy list of activities we can be doing at home and we've already implemented several. Harvey gets in on the action too and we're making it lots of fun. Off topic, preschool is still going just great and I am so grateful for it! Expect an "ode to preschool" post in the not so distant future!