There’s the official news.
So, we go into the psychologist’s office two Fridays ago – me and my hubby Jeff -- to meet with her and tell her all about our darling son.
We both immediately like the new psychologist – we aren’t seeing Gabriel’s Psychiatrist or Pediatric Neurologist because the wait is TOO DAMN LONG – and liking the new psychologist is a great start for both of us.
We get to the conversation about attention. I say, "Matthew doesn’t have a very good attention span for things that others choose." Like his teacher. Or me. "When we give him something he finds less than intriguing, then he leaves." Most likely going to practice coupling his trains so he can shunt some more jobi wood to the new rescue center or some other Thomas-themed activity. BUT, I add, that this is a skill that he has shown growth in during the last school year. During those six months, he has learned to participate in all of the school activities (none of which are coupling or shunting) and happily transitions from one to the other (by ‘happily’ I mean with an adult helping him to read his personal visual schedule and then with only two or three verbal reminders; happily).
Jeff quickly disagrees with me.
He claims this is not an attention issue. He says that because Matthew is getting better at this type of thing (paying attention to less-than-interesting things) he is showing an increase in TOLERANCE. Arguably, by my husband, a much more useful skill in real life.
You see, in Jeff's view, Matthew doesn’t have an attention problem, he has a tolerance problem. And in life, you always have to be tolerant of things you are less than facinated by. Like school lessons or wife droning on and on about topics that do not include cellphones, football or Star Wars.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, people.
The psychologist showed great
Matthew had his first hour and 20 minutes of testing the next Friday (last week). I took him alone, and he was happy as a little clam to go.
While he was in her office, I sat in the waiting room and filled out the 15 pages of questionnaires. I think this is the umpteenth time I have done this, not just because I’ve done them yearly (it feels like) for Gabriel, but I did them for many foster kids as well. So, this is a simple task that I in no-way-shape-or-form over think. “If you have any questions, mark them on the form and we can go over them.” Our nice new psychologist says, and I was like, “Yeah, I won’t.”
Quick piece of advice on these forms: do them quickly, answer with your gut instinct, don't discuss them with your hubby.
When she returned with Matthew, who needed a break (which ended up just being the end of the appointment), Matt grabbed my iPhone, went to YouTube and turned on his Thomas the Tank Engine videos, then promptly crawled under the chair to watch them.
Yet he can’t cut out a circle (age appropriate small motor skill activity) and he can manipulate my phone, computer, and keyboard (advanced small motor skill activity). Can you say "gap in development"?
I had a great conversation with the psych during this time. She is very approachable, and truly seems to like my kid. BONUS POINTS. She even said she saw how he used his advanced language skills to compensate for his lack of skill in other arenas -- namely social. We talked about so many of the Aspie characteristics that Matt has – and how he is so borderline for a diagnosis.
Aspie traits (stereotypical or not):
Dislike changes in routine: CHECK
Avoids eye contact: CHECK
Formal style of speaking: CHECK
Talks a lot about his favorite subject: CHECK
Sensory issues: CHECK
Delayed motor movement: CHECK
Gaps in development (hence the cutting vs. typing issue): CHECK
Rote speech patterns: CHECK
Great intelligence (stereotype): CHECK
Preoccupied with special interest: CHECK
Social skill issues (lack of interest in peers): CHECK
Matt shows all of these things – but minimally. Some days I think, “Gosh, no way Matt actually has Asperger’s, I should skip the evaluation…” and then we arrive at the first day of school and Matt says, “Well….Hello, Ms. Diane….” His arms stretched out to each side, then a head tilt, followed by, “Misty Island Rescue comes out today and when I get home I get to watch it. Didyaknow it has three new engines? Bash, Dash and Ferdinand, but I don’t know where Ferdinand is…he wasn’t at Fred Meyer….”
And I think nope. ASPERGERS.
I expect that he will meet the criteria for diagnosis. Just barely.
And I also expect that if we retested him next year, or the year after, he may not. He is learning so much so quickly, and maturing faster than I expected in preschool. But the ‘label’ will be helpful in Kindergarten, and you and I both know that no matter what labe he has or doesn't have, he is still Matthew. And the way he is wired is just awesome. AWESOME I tell you. Awesome.
I’ll keep you posted on the testing and results. I’d say “cross your fingers” but I have no idea what I would be asking you to hope for – Autism diagnosis or not?