Thursday, February 4, 2010

Answers and Questions

It’s not as if Gavin is suddenly different. The little boy who left my house on Tuesday morning with a designation of “Emotional Behavioral Disorder” and who has been in a behavioral freefall at school since before Christmas was the same little boy who came home Tuesday afternoon with a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD of the combined type and severe Anxiety.

It’s not as if we didn’t know it was coming. Ever since a preschool teacher rather melodramatically insisted we should have him evaluated or he’d “never make it in Kindergarten,” we’ve been on a treadmill of test after test after test. Four years of neuro-psych batteries, IQ and aptitude testing, behavioral rating scales and any other tool you could think of. He never quite “fit” on the Autism Spectrum, but he never quite “fit” anywhere else, either.

It’s not as if we’ve been entirely blaming ourselves for his difficulties. Despite feedback from various well-meaning people that we weren’t disciplining him properly, we knew that wasn’t the case. From the first school district evaluations we have been affirmed and supported by professionals and told we’re doing an outstanding job with him, under the circumstances, even flying blind as we’d been for so long.

It’s not as if it’s a death sentence or an insurmountable obstacle. There are almost as many variations within the Autism Spectrum as there are people who are on it, and there are clear and effective interventions that have allowed children and adults with Aspergers to live high-functioning lives. This is the kind of stuff that makes people interesting, after all.

But it’s still overwhelming. A little bewildering. A bit scary. Even with much of the groundwork laid, the task ahead is daunting. Having answers doesn’t solve problems. Acting on those answers does. And even knowing all we know and all we already knew, there are more things we just don’t know yet. And can’t know until we run into novel situations or until Gavin matures or until we’ve plowed through the absolute mountain of information out there.

The good news we don’t have to figure this out on our own. The better news is that the professionals have lots of experience and the prognosis is good. The best news is that Gavin is still Gavin and, label or no label, he’s a pretty damn cool kid. We’re all gonna be just fine.

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