Sunday, May 5, 2013

How it all began-Part 3 "Validation"

We vaccinated Aidan on schedule.  Whether you believe vaccines are a contributing factor or not, I feel it is worth mentioning.  I'm a firm believer that vaccines do contribute to Autism is some cases, and I also believe there are genetic, dietary (dyes, preservatives) and environmental components (pesticides, GMO's) as well.  Am I anti-vax?  No.  I vaccinated my second son, Owen, but delayed them until he was a year old, only did one at a time and consented to only those that he needed for school .  Do I begrudge anyone who is ani-vax? No.  Until someone can figure out what is causing the alarming epidemic of 1:50, I believe everything is a contender in Autism, including vaccines, regardless of what countless vaccine sponsored studies say.

We started Aidan in Charlotte Mecklenburg School District for Kindergarten.  This is where someone other than myself noticed something wasn't quite right.  Aidan was immediately thrown into countless evaluations but  unfortunately had a less than ideal school psychologist.  He disliked her with a passion and after meeting her on several occasions we could understand why.  After going through 3 different teachers by Christmas (they either quit, were fired, or got transferred) we were told to get him out of the Charlotte District and into the Fort Mill School District a few miles away in SC.  Best decision we ever made.

We decided to have him independently evaluated at Children and Family Development in Charlotte (Park Rd).  It was there that he was diagnosed with Developmental Coordination Disorder, LD (NOS) and ADHD (non-hyperactive).  We started therapy and hoped for the best.

As the years went by we had to make numerous dietary changes (future blog).  There were days he seemed okay, and days he would throw himself into things like the furniture.  Eye contact continued to be poor at times and he began to focus all his time building Lego's. The up side to this was it seemed to calm him and help his fine motor skills.  The down side; he wasn't interested in anything else.  His social skills seemed to be lacking and he was unable to play like other kids did.  He continued side by side play far longer than he should have and while he seemed to not mind being around other kids, he wasn't engaged like the other kids.

We then sought out a DAN! doctor (Defeat Autism Now) and found one in South Charlotte.  Here is a link in case anyone is looking for one that lives in the area:  Once we found our DAN! doctor things took off from there.  Aidan was reevaluated and was confirmed to have Autism, specifically Asperger's, now known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (DSM-V).  Now, this may be shocking to some, but I remember when the diagnosis was read to me.  I immediately felt this huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  There was much more information shared after that but I can't tell you anything that was said after, "your son has a form of Autism called Asperger's".  The next thing I do remember was walking back to my car with Scott and him asking me how I felt.  I hadn't really said anything yet.  I said, I am so relieved.  Strange, right?  Let me explain.

I was finally validated.  I knew in my gut something wasn't quite right.  I could feel it.  I wasn't crazy, I wasn't overreacting, I was a worrier.  I was RIGHT and now I could focus on getting him well.  If there is one piece of advice I hope to pass on to anyone reading this, it is to go with your gut.  If you think something is off, chances are, something is off.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't regret listening to all the people who said, "he's fine" in an annoyingly dismissive way.  If your pediatrician says there is nothing wrong and you still feel there is, go get a second opinion, or a third, or however many you need.  Pediatricians are great if your child is healthy or has a minor problem like an ear infection.  If you think there may be a developmental problem, go to a developmental pediatrician, psychiatrist, neurologist or psychologist.  I could have had Aidan in therapy years earlier if I had fought harder for what I knew deep down was the truth.  Don't make my same mistake, but forgive yourself if you did.  It took longer for Aidan to get the help he needed, but he is getting it.  Things happen for a reason and if I did not make this mistake I would not be able to help others not to.

Much love......