Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Raising Denver Part 4: Diagnosis

A trip to a child therapist gave us our guiding arrow towards diagnosis for Denver and myself. She noted key points in his behavior; eye contact, lack of responsiveness to questions, strange organization rituals, and lack of understanding for social boundaries. Yes, I know small children aren't renound for their social understanding, however, they still have an age appropriate level of behavior. She suggested the name of a specialist, the only one in the area we lived in.

Testing for autism is not a quick process. It's a series of tests and questionaires. The questions are many and are about things that we notice in his behavior and reactions to the world around him. Asperger's Syndrome, what was this condition? I had never heard of it before and I started investigating it myself. I can already tell you that I saw myself in my son in many ways and I started to wonder if this condition could be hereditary?

I asked the doctor we were seeing and she said Asperger's can be very hereditary. I asked if I could be tested and we began my learning journey that would redefine everything I ever thought I knew about myself. Two months after my diagnosis, my mother contacted me to tell me that she had been diagnosed with the condition herself. She didn't know I was even being tested on the matter. So far, all of my nephews show strong traits towards this condition.

At home, Denver continued to surprise us and we feared for his safety overnight. We were met with a serious dilemna. We tried baby gates. With just one, he climbed over it. With two, we had the same result. Three worked to keep him in until he learned how to dismantle the baby gates. I already mentioned in the last part that child proof doorknobs were useless too. Authorities said that locking a child in a room is a fire hazard and considered child abuse.

So, what do you do when your toddler is so smart it's a hazard to his health? What ever you have to and you just don't tell anyone else. Yes, that means I put a latch on his door and once he was asleep, he would be shut in until morning. The fact of the matter is that, if there were a fire, an autistic child wouldn't be capable of escaping on his own anyway. If you take sensory overload into consideration, they would retreat or shut down. Denver would have hidden in his blankets if we couldn't get to him. Do you think he would be easily found? There are a lot of reports out there that say otherwise.

In case of a fire, our mission was to get Denver and get out either via the window or a front or back door. Then we would head for the street. So we had a plan and the door was only latched over night. Thankfully, Denver grew out of his extra adventures and we could stop latching the door. Sadly, many a family struggling with just this have been charged with child abuse or neglect when they are only trying to protect their child from him or herself. Had they allowed the child to roam free overnight and it caused injury or death, well, lets just say the charges were the same where we lived. So, since do and don't have the same outcome, you may as well "do" and protect your child. At least then they aren't getting into the knife drawer.

Denver's room had lots of blankets and large soft plush toys. Everything was soft and safe, so in the night, he had little to hurt himself with if anything. If you think that was the biggest challenge or that Denver was done throwing us curveballs, you'll have to see part five, because you've got another thing coming.

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