Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yo Yo, Roller Coaster. Pick your metaphor

Getting an accurate diagnosis for children with neurological disorders has got to be the most unbelievably frustrating and seemingly random process. In the last year, we've been told Perrin is absolutely on the autism spectrum, unequivocally couldn't possibly be on the spectrum, is a textbook case of early onset bipolar disorder, and might just have autism-related mood disorders. all of that chaos, how is a parent to even begin to know who is right? I have filled out questionaires, checked off boxes of behaviors, and Perrin has been through countless evaluations over the course of the last 2 years. At the end of it, we are still at the mercy of opinions. There's no scientific test, no blood work to be analyzed. It's just a list of characteristics that are then interpreted by a neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist. And when they don't all agree, where the hell does that leave you? I've mostly listened to other moms and watched how Perrin interacts with other children on the autism spectrum, and for the most part, he's just like them. And in many ways, so very different. Because mixed in with all the sensory sensitivities, rigidity to routine, and mood swings is a 6 yr old boy with his own quirky personality. And he might line up his toys in a certain way because he has autism, or because he has OCD, or just because he likes them that way. It's simply impossible to know. I get told quite frequently that the label shouldn't matter to me; that he's still the awesome kid that he's always been. I do agree that regardless of the diagnosis, he's just Perrin. The kid who loves putting stickers on those paint swatches from Home Depot, who loves ketchup quite possibly more than any other human being on the planet, who has memorized pretty much every line from every show or movie he's ever seen, who collects every scrap of paper he touches, and who can melt anyone's heart with his smile. We go back for further testing with a neuropsychiatrist next month, and hopefully with that will come more answers. What I know now is that he's content and stable. He's learning at school, and he's making friends. He's truly enjoying his life right now, and honestly, what more could a parent want for their child?