Stuck on Shelby is participating in the 30 days of Autism Blog Challenge put forth by Asperger's Rules! Please go check it out and the other bloggers that are participating as well!
It's April 1st, the beginning of Autism Awareness month. In previous years this month didn't hit me personally. Sure, Shelby was probably going to end up under the PDD-NOS umbrella because of her Global Developmental Delays but it never really felt like that fit. She never had any autism traits. We are no closer to a diagnosis now than we were when our journey first began. Shelby will be six in July and she functions at a late two early three year old level in most areas. She is loving, outgoing, and very very social. She is on the go from the time she gets up until the time she goes to bed. She swings and swings and swings, both on her indoor net swing and outside. She doesn't really have sensory issues like most kids but if she's "off" it will usually help.
So, ok, if that's the case with Shelby why does this year hit me personally then you may be asking? I'm getting to that. You see, I have two other kids. Grace, my oldest, is 10. She's in the 4th grade now. I'm really struggling on a place to start with this. In October or November we started seeing a therapist. Grace was having issues in school that seemed beyond "normal". Despite her teachers efforts and our efforts at home she seemed to be very stressed and anxious. She was shutting down. I couldn't reach her. I couldn't talk to her. In fact she'd barely speak to me, save a few grunts. After the therapist met with Grace on our very first session the therapist said to me, "I don't normally bring this up so quickly unless there are so many red flags I can't ignore, but...have you ever heard of Asperger's or High Functioning Autism?" And I just stared at her. I stared, and stared, and stared, and finally I said, "Oh, my, God, it's so flipping obvious isn't it?! Where has my head been? My mind NEVER went there!" And as we went back through her behaviors it was one "Aha!" moment after another!!
I went home and started reading everything I could find on Asperger's and girls. At first I felt incredible guilt for not thinking of it earlier. I mean I'm her mother! I've got friends that have kids with Autism, I have a special needs child myself!!! Why did I NEVER connect the dots myself?! But the more I read the more the guilt washed away. Girls are simply harder to read than boys. They are often over looked as being "dramatic" as being "quirky", as being "immature", because their symptoms often manifest so much differently than boys. At least this is often the case with Aspie Girls. As Aspie girls grow up they learn to "mimic" their peers making it that much harder to diagnosis them. Thus the reason why Aspie girls often make it to Jr. High, High School, College, and beyond before ever getting an Asperger's or High Functioning Autism diagnosis. Some end up being mislabeled as ADHD or bi-polar, social anxiety disorders, or a combination of these. There are women in their 30's just now getting the proper diagnosis.
So, we're continuing with therapy, it's helping, a little, more in us understanding each other than anything. We're holding intervention meetings at the school to determine what we can do to help her with her struggles there. They've done their testing and we're waiting on the results of another one by speech, the pediatrician agrees Asperger's is the correct path as well as the therapist. We're waiting to get into Easter Seals for our "official" diagnosis but at this point it feels pretty darn official to me. Life is a daily roller coaster. I never know what a day is going to be like from one hour to the next. So with that, thank you for reading all of this. And stay tuned for tomorrows post. What it will be? I have no idea!