Wednesday, January 27, 2016

To the parent who just got a diagnosis.

I want to start this off by saying it's going to be okay and that you are not alone. For some the diagnosis comes as a total surprise maybe even like a punch to the gut. Maybe you thought they were just a little quirky or taking a little while to catch up. For others like me, it came as no surprise but that didn't make hearing it any less hurtful and disorienting. Dominic failed every single milestone and had just about every symptom of autism but that still did not lessen the blow. The day I got that phone call changed my life forever. 

We all kind have this idea of how life will go when it comes to raising kids. For the most part they are on a similar path, they will go to school, play sports or maybe become a theater kid. There will be dances and sleepovers and then graduation comes and they enter the adult world. Sure you'll always worry for them because they are your children and you love them but they are now fully capable of taking care of themselves. So what do you do when you get the news that lays an entirely new path in front of you?

Breathe. Breathe and do not forget this does not change who your child is. You have just received the diagnosis but they were autistic all along. It's okay to be hurt, scared, or angry. There's really no right way to feel because we all handle things differently. Once you have taken the time to process the news you must now realize you are your child's biggest advocate. You are their voice and their protector don't ever let anyone set limits for your child. They can achieve so much when we are standing with them. Check out local resources and maybe even find a parents group in your area or even online. Every child is different but having someone who is going through something similar to you is an amazing thing.

Another important thing is to have support through loved one, whether that's family or a close friend it can really make all the difference. Let them in this world you've entered with your child. Let them learn with and help you, vent to them, cry to them, and share every happy little milestone your child meets. For me this was my mom. She was a huge support person in my life while we went through the process of getting Dominic diagnosed and an even bigger support person after the diagnosis.

The path that you thought you were on has taken a turn to one less traveled. It will be scary and amazing all at the same time. It will show you that you are stronger than you ever thought you could be and you are capable of loving more than you ever thought possible. As you walk down this path two of the most important things to remember are you are not alone and it is going to be okay.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Decisions I don't want to have to make.

January 11th 2016 is a day I had been dreading for months. This was the day of Dominic's  3rd grade IEP meeting. In the past I have never really been fond of these meetings but I knew this one would be especially hard because it was going to be time to talk about his future and about those decisions I don't want to make.

Over the last few months Dominic has gone through multiple evaluations and testing to get a feel for where he is at. While he is making progress he is still no where near the level of his peers in general ed class. It has always been this way but thus far we have kept him in general ed for about 80% of time because socially this has benefited him greatly. He is definitely a child who is eager to learn and actually really loves school but his processing is significantly slower than others which is causing him to fall farther and farther behind. We are extremely lucky to have such a wonderful teacher this year who takes the time to give him extra help and accommodate his extra needs. We are also lucky tags the rest of his team is equally great and truly cares for him unfortunately we are getting to a point where this will no longer be enough.

Low, low, very low, very low, and some more very lows are what is written on the results page that is given to me. While this really isn't a surprise for some reason seeing it on paper is still like being pinched in the gut. He did score average in math which made me so proud, the kid is pretty good with numbers but the rest broke my heart for him. I have no don't in my mind that he is a brilliant kid who is going to continue to progress and go farther than anyone ever thought after all they said he would never even talk but now I am faces with a big decision in terms of his future. Do I keep him where he is and let finish in the school he has been in since kindergarten? Where his friends and teachers are? By doing this I will most likely be hurting his future academically. My other choice is to apply to have him places in an ERC looks like a typical classroom however there are less students and more teachers. They also are more likely to incorporate his IEP into the class so that he does not have to leave for extra help. This part of it would be fantastic as would the extra one on one time, the bad part is taking from his school he's been in for four years.

After talking with his team and a long conversation with his teacher I have decided to apply for the program. It is a long process and there is no guarantee that he will get in and even then I can always change my mind if I feel it's not really what's best for him. This is a decision I have been dreading for a couple years now and I don't think I will ever feel 100% confident that I am making the right one no matter which way I chose to go. In the end I just hope he is happy and able to continue to go farther than anyone ever thought he could go.