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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Little Cricket’s Delay: Treat the Symptoms Not the Label

I am not sure if my son has autism or an auditory processing disorder or is just developmentally delayed or god knows what. I have one official diagnosis that says he does have autism and one that says he doesn’t have autism. Depending on what specialist I talk to everyone seems to have a different idea of what is going on with my son and what approach is the best to help him. Confusingly, bang my head against the wall, maddening right!

Since autism is constantly being redefined and since different people have different ideas of what it means to be on the spectrum and since there isnt a blood test or an MRI that can tell us with 100% certainty that is what we are dealing with. Since we cannot test for an auditory processing disorder until my son is 5 or 6 and since my son is so young and obviously is confusing in his symptoms even to specialists, I have decided to not seek more opinions from other specialists right now. Although I just WANT TO KNOW FOR SURE all these opinions are just confusing me more. Honestly I am so all over the place in what I am seeing and thinking that my head is just SPINNING. So I am going to ignore trying to label what is going on and instead I am going to focus on encouraging my son’s strengths and helping him with his weaknesses. In essence I am going to treat the system instead of continuing to chase the elusive opinion based label. The idea is not to focus on the label these doctors are throwing out but on my son, what his strengths are and what he needs help with. Taking charge and moving forward with a plan will make me feel like I am doing something and hopefully less helpless.

So in effect I am focusing on a few goals for My Little Cricket:
- work on his body and sensory issues
- respond to his name more often
- strengthen his eye contact
- work on sitting still and focusing for a few minutes of snack/story time/circle time
- continue speech therapy to strengthen my sons vocabulary

The main issue I will have is trying to blend therapies for autism, developmentally delayed children and kids with auditory processing disorders. Since I am not sure which my Little Cricket has and since I won’t know realistically until he is a little older and the symptoms either manifest intensely or fade with time. And since I am not interested in doing nothing or to opt for a wait and see approach I am just going to have to forage my own way. See which therapies and tactics are helping and which are not. With this in mind I found a highly recommended occupational therapist that will work with my son not only on his sensory issues but also with a listening program therapy geared for young children with auditory processing disorders. Unfortunately there is a wait time to get into her clinic so we won’t be starting that until end of February but the plus side is that she can work on two of my goals for my Little Cricket. I interviewed and found a floor time specialist who will work with my Little Cricket at our home to help him respond to his name more often and to strengthen his eye contact. As an added bonus when he is ready for a typical preschool she is also an experienced shadow and can attend with him to help him learn and navigate his new preschool environment. And of course we will be continuing our speech therapy with Ms. P who is doing some fantastic things with my son’s ability to communicate.

To add onto the list above I am looking to possibly get my son into a clinic based ‘special’ preschool for children with delays for a short time until I feel like he has built up his skills enough to handle a typical school. I also am looking at some autism therapy at UCLA and perhaps a few hours a week of ABA.

I don’t know where my son’s future will lead. I am not sure how this happened or how exactly to treat what is wrong. I am not sure of much really. But I am sure that I can get help for my son. I am sure that I love my baby boy and I am hopeful with hard work we will get to a better place. This will be far from perfect but it is a good start. And starting something is better than staying paralyzed with nothing.

011316_notTheLabel

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