Three months ago, we received another autism diagnosis in our house. This time it was for our daughter who just turned seventeen.
We had been dealing with some difficult issues for a few years now, but the past year has been the most difficult.
With teenagers, you always expect ups and downs. She definitely had a lot more of the downs.
She has been struggling with depression, anxiety and panic for a few years. We had been doing all the things that we thought were right, but the issues didn’t seem to be going away, in fact, they were getting worse.
We were frustrated, but we did whatever we could to help, including many, many appointments to psychiatrist, psychologist, medical doctor, dietitian, OT, you name it, we saw them. Sometimes, we couldn’t get her to all of the appointments between work schedules and school pick-ups, but we were lucky to have my Mom helping us with this and other people when we needed them.
It wasn’t until a recent in-patient program at the hospital that we received the news that she was on the autism spectrum.
There seemed to be way too many questions but not a whole lot of answers. As parents we didn’t know how to feel or what to do. I mean we had been dealing with autism in our house for so many years, you would think that we of all people would be able to pick up on this. Why didn’t we? What happened?
Well, you see our son’s autism is different. He was born prematurely and he started off his life with delays so we were attuned to this from the very beginning of his life.
With our daughter, her autism is classified, if you will, HF Autism, which in layman’s terms means “high-functioning autism.” Personally I hate when things are categorized in this way because it makes one child/person sound better than another and that should never be the case. Both are equally important and carry their own unique issues and challenges.
Now that I have two that are totally different this has never been more important to me.
For most, it’s just simply a way of identifying issues unique to that person, although in my opinion this doesn’t work too well.
Our daughter has a high IQ, which I think is part of the reason that this was never detected before. She was going through life and was able to talk her way out or through situations and converse with people quite easily. It wasn’t until the early teen years that we started to see social problems. Then came depression, anxiety, panic attacks. All of this just kind of happened over a period of time. We were dealing with so many “professionals” but even though at one time a couple of years ago, I suspected this, they ran the tests and said that she was not on the spectrum.
Let me tell you this, always trust your gut. I have discovered through my extensive list of professionals over the years that they are just people. If they are not on board with my vision, or they won’t listen to me, or dismiss what I am saying, then I’m not spending our hard earned money at that place. Believe me, we’ve had some like this in the past.
When I first heard the words in January, I honestly don’t know how I felt. My husband felt relief because at least now, all of the other things she was diagnosed with finally made sense, which I agree. But I also felt sad, cheated, and perhaps partially responsible for it taking so long to come to this conclusion. I think back to some of the things that she did as a child like talking more to adults than to kids, going over the top on almost every task she took on, obsessing over different things. I believe I missed it.
I looked at her now in a different way, I guess perhaps a more loving and understanding way of the difficulties she was experiencing and what was going on in her brain.
I also was very relived that now all of her symptoms would be under one umbrella, one contact place to deal with all of the symptoms, medications, everything.
But, as I sit here today, honestly, it’s overwhelming…..the issues are quite complex and there’s a lot of them to deal with. I have to breathe and rely on my patience to adjust.
For now, we will take it one step at a time, one moment at a time and try to unravel everything for as long as it takes.
This faces us with new challenges as a family, but I’m grateful that I have lots of experience already dealing with autism.
With the new normals and new circumstances related to this new diagnosis, we will continue to find ways to help both of our children be the very best that they can be. Because that’s all we can really do as parents.