The Diagnosis – Part 1

The Diagnosis – Part 1

Let me start from the beginning. The beginnings are usually scary because the journey is unknown.

My ButterCup was now 2.5 and comparisons had started. Other kids of her age were beginning to talk and interact with one another, but my kiddo still had no words. Grandparents were worried, but the optimist within me could not imagine that something could be wrong. I was chilled out, believing that each child develops on their own pace. As she was approaching 3, I took her to some Moms and Tots fun activity groups. I saw it as an opportunity to get her involved in joint play with myself and also learn to interact with other kids and socialize. While other kids interacted and worked with their parents like a team, my ButterCup seemed to be in her own world. She would still not respond to her name, not seemed to be listening, didn’t pay attention to anything I tried to show her, not interested to sit at one place or interact with anyone. She preferred to play alone, and explore, she enjoyed climbing ….. climbing up her desk, climbing the shelves. Those were the first red flags and I booked an appointment with the Specialist. I was concerned and hoping for a ‘Speech Delay’ diagnosis.

You know like we all have those moments in life, that are imprinted on our memory till date, as fresh as a photograph that we remember every tiny detail about it. It was one such moment for me and I vividly remember the odd details of that day. What the room looked like, what chair I was sitting in, who I was with, what were we wearing, what my kid was doing when we first heard the ‘A’ word.  My Buttercup was wearing a blue jacket with multi colored dots and a big bow at the back as if she was ‘a surprise wrapped in a gift paper’. The doctor said, “I think that your child falls on the autism spectrum.” and kiddo was flipping through some picture books, innocent, barely 3, unaware of what lifelong label she had just been given. And once again, the die-hard optimist within me was in total denial. I also remember it was pouring that day & I felt suffocated, not sure if it was the humidity of falling rain or the burden on my heart or the tears that I tried to hold back that choked me.

The doctor was kind, he didn’t want to just rub it in my face. So, he gave us time, he asked me if I would like to observe her for a month or two and then come back again for an assessment. I just nodded and left his office.

Next one month I was trying real hard to engage my Buttercup and was monitoring her very closely. I was angry, I was upset. I was crazy. A crazy mom and Google are a dangerous combo …… I read a lot about Autism and I would say, not all but couple of things fitted well in the puzzle, in my kiddo’s context. Then one day my hubby, who is somehow always prepared for the worst, told me that he thought the doctor to be right. I remember having a huge fight with him that day. We are otherwise a very compatible couple, we think alike and act alike, but that day was different, that day I was the fierce Mama bear who would fight with anyone who calls her perfect child Autistic. So what if my child does not respond to her name, so what if she does not point at things, so what if she does not follow instructions, so what if she never asks for help …. she is just a little child.

Fast forward to the day our appointment with the Specialist was scheduled, the day he would assess my kiddo. The day was a little different this time, it wasn’t raining, there were no clouds and the sun was shining bright and its bright shining rays brought hope to my heart. A part of my heart still held out the tiniest hope that it wasn’t autism. It was a half an hour-long testing after which the Specialist gave us his final diagnosis ……. It was written on a paper …. the child was diagnosed with ‘mild autism’. ‘Autism’ the six-letter word, the word we had been searching for and hiding from. Though the word ‘mild’ attached to it brought a little comfort to my aching heart but I was afraid, I was afraid because I was in an unknown territory. We were now officially the reluctant dwellers in the city of Autism.

 

To be continued …….



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