On Day 4 of the A - Z Challenge, D is for Devastating.
When David and Michael were toddlers, I put them in a daycare program a couple of mornings a week to get them some play time with other children. After a few months, the director recommended we have David evaluated. He was a good boy, very pleasant, but didn't really speak and didn't interact with the other children. He would smile as he watched them play, but would not join in, even when some of the staff would try to engage him. Michael was very difficult and they actually didn't think he was 'a good fit'. I was so embarrassed. Michael was actually kicked out of daycare! Who gets kicked out of daycare?!?
Upon the recommendation of a friend of mine, we went to a neuropsychologist who had evaluated her own daughter years before. Dr. E was not a very personable individual but she seemed to know her stuff. David was evaluated shortly before his third birthday and was non-verbal at that time.
At this point in time, I never knew anyone with autism. My complete knowledge of autism was from the movie Rainman and that did not give me an encouraging viewpoint. When Dr. E. sat us in her office, she painted a dismal picture of a child who would probably live at home with us forever and be lucky to work a menial job. She sat there with her horrid bedside manner and told us that this beautiful boy would never amount to much. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I think I cried for a week.
Michael was subsequently diagnosed with autism as well.
After the initial disappointment and devastation, I read everything I could about autism, its possible causes, recommended therapies. It's a group effort here. My husband and I spend a lot of time with our sons, exposing them to as many experiences as we could. We were fortunate to get David and Michael enrolled in a public school which had a 30% special needs population. There were wonderful teachers on staff. I am so grateful they boys were placed at that school. I credit a lot of my sons' successes on the foundation they received there. We also were able to find a wonderful tutor to work with Michael at home. He could not even hold a pencil when she began working with him. Carol has been invaluable and greatly responsible for Michael's success. She taught him to hold a pencil, write and has been helped him overcome most of his comprehension issues.
Michael is in 6th grade now. He writes neater than me and has straight A's. He loves to learn, loves school and is on student council. He is a human GPS. Once he goes somewhere, he can tell you how get there, even a year later. If you ever need to go to Brooklyn, NY or Vermont, Michael is better than a GPS.
And David, who was never going to amount to much, can hold a conversation with ANYONE about nearly ANY subject. He particularly loves history, politics and baseball. He knows everything, and if he doesn't know something about a subject, he'll research it and then proceed to be an expert on it. He is also a straight A student and a member of student council. And both boys will be participating in the Close-Up Program in Washington, D.C this May.