Friday, October 14, 2005

The period at the end of our sentence (.) (Journal #8)

While we have had Samuel's educational diagnosis since last spring, we have also been pursuing a second opinion of sorts...the medical diagnosis. Not that we have been in denial of Autism, not that we haven't trusted the psychologists, school staff, and doctors who have seen Sam, but just to confirm things, or put a period to the end of our sentence of sorts. I say sentence, as Brent and I haven't truly "questioned" the diagnosis, as we have known and understood Sam all too well. We have truly believed since the first mention of it. Yet we did need some finality of sorts.

Our doctor told us he had enough tests and results between school, psychologist and himself that he could make the diagnosis, but really recommended to us last early May, that we seek a medical diagnosis from Fraser Child and Family Center in Minneapolis. He said it is the goldmine of Autism in the midwest. We found that out when we were put on the waiting list for 4-6 months.

That long wait finally came to an end this last Tuesday. Brent's mom was so gracious to lengthen a current stay with us by going to the appointment too. I was very, very, very anxious for this day to come. We were actually in Denver the days before, which was good for me as it kept my mind away from the anticipation. Driving to the appointment on Minneapolis far east side into St. Paul was agonizing enough during rush hour!! Thank God we don't have to do that every day like some people.

We dropped Zach off at school a few minutes early that day, in order to make the appointment in time. We always do a "foot prayer" before he gets out. He kicks his foot up to the front seat, I grab it, then we say a simple quick prayer. Something like "God please shield him and protect him, but also let him be a light of your love and grace." yadyadyada.......but that morning I didn't. It might have been all that was on my mind. I watched him get out of the van in the cold morning air, as the cold streamed off his lips saying good-by out the door. I also felt cold, worried, kind of, as it hit me... we were off to find our period (.). I told Sam to give me his foot, of which I hadn't done before.

The arrival at Fraser was warm and welcoming. It did not have an institutional feel as some places and hospitals. The morning went on, and before we knew it, the testing and assessment was complete.

Grandma Jan stayed with Sam, and Brent and I went with the psychologist and social worker. The psychologist was gentle, clear and empathic. She drew a diagram on the dry erase board explaining Autism, and the Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) scale. This helped make things very clear for Brent and I. She told us that there are 5 main areas on the spectrum. One is PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified) which is a diagnosis given to individuals who have some Autistic symptoms, but not enough to be diagnosed Autistic. These kids will sometimes need additional services in schools, etc... Two other disorders on the spectrum are degenerative disorders, which they told us, will possibly come off of the spectrum in the future. Sam was not those. Another spectrum category is Asperger's. Sam was clearly not this. For me and my colleagues in teaching, we sometimes refer to Asperger's as "a touch of Autism". These kids are incredibly intelligent and have some of the Autistic symptoms. The last disorder on the spectrum was Autism. They told us that was Sam. Our Sam I Am. That was our period (.) at the end of our very long sentence.

While I can honestly say there is no question mark (?) for us, I can't say that sometimes there isn't an exclamation mark (!). You see, sometimes there is! We look back at Sam since birth, and we can truly exclaim, "that makes sense!" keep things constant, to keep things calm and real.............we can absolutely now say, "there is a period (.) at the end of our sentence." The good thing is, that a period is only the end of a sentence. It is not the end of the paragraph on Sam, not the end of his page or chapter. You is just the beginning of his best seller called life that will produce many books. Maybe mysteries, drama's, and comedies to name a few. Some will be sequels and some will be cliff hangers. The one true thing we know, is that we will stay a close family, that we will keep Christ first in our lives, and matter how the last book ends here on earth.........that there really will be a happy ending at the end of this!

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