Apparently this month is all about I. This post is mostly for all you who I called and asked questions of, who are now dying with curiosity. So, the diagnosis is Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, otherwise known as PDD-NOS. I will not go into details here, but if you want to know more, google it. There are many great resources and descriptions--I personally like how simply they put it at www.autismspeaks.org. So to make things clear, I. does NOT have autism, but it is an autism spectrum disorder. What it means is that I. learns a little differently, he reacts to certain stimuli in peculiar ways, and he has difficulties in certain social situations. If you think something along the lines of "but I. is so normal," you are very correct. He really doesn't have any major symptoms, just a lot of little things that are starting to become more apparent.
While this is nothing I ever dreamed about for my child, I am very grateful for the great doctors we have here that we've been able to work with. And I am very grateful for this diagnosis. There are many situations that we would find ourselves in, and just couldn't figure out what to do. I'm sure every parent experiences this with their children, but it was a little more with I. It just seemed like all the normal things didn't work, and many situations I was simply clueless. That is the main reason I sought out medical advice. I just wanted more resources as to how to help I. cope with some of the situations he finds himself in, especially when there isn't an adult around to intervene for him. So many times, the school has just chalked all his issues as having to do with his speech delay, but I just felt like there was more. Now I have my answers. I understand much more about the "why" and now I have ways to help. Now that I understand a bit more about how I.'s mind works, many of the things I. does makes more sense to me. I now have options. And the school even has programs to help him learn some of the social skills that will never be natural for him. I know I will still have many more clueless moments, but right now I feel empowered. I now have direction and understanding and after 1 1/2 years of wondering, feeling at a loss, and sometimes just feeling like I was failing as a parent, this new feeling is great. We have been living with this our whole lives with I., but finally we have a starting point to making things better.
If you are wondering if I feel comfortable with this diagnosis, well, I don't think anyone wants to hear this from a doctor, but I do think it is accurate. We were lucky enough to have the pediatrician that works specifically with developmental disorders also be a part of our church family. We know what a great doctor he is and a great person. He was very thorough. It took 4 appointments, questionnaires out to all of I.'s teacher (his Italian asilo teacher and his English speech therapist) as well as questionnaires for D. and I which we had to take separately. And yet all four questionnaires, for the most part, said the same things. We had one appointment where just D. and I answered the most detailed questions about how I. does things that lasted about 2 1/2 hours (and would have been longer if my watch alarm hadn't gone off to say I was nearly late picking up the boys from school). So I think we did all we could do to make sure this diagnosis was as accurate as possible.