Fast Forward to 2014, as we were sitting, waiting on the pediatric doctor to walk through the door for yet another child wellness visit. I sit there on the hard, cold chair with all types of thoughts crossing my mind. As Miguel sits on the exam room table, I’m gathering my thoughts. His only concern that day was, 'Mommy, am I getting shots today?’, with a more worried look on his face than mine.
The door opens, and Dr. K sits down on her round, blue stool. She asks us what we’re doing there that day. I explained to her we were there for a couple of reasons; a wellness visit for his upcoming 5th-grade year of school, a school physical for any possible school activities, and medication refills. At that time Miguel was taking oral ADHD medication that he received twice a day, once in the morning and then again before lunch at the school nurse’s office (it is a short-acting medication).
Dr. K finishes the physical exam and wellness visit, all normal for Miguel. He had always been below height and weight standards. Miguel is quiet, needing verbal affirmation that it’s okay to answer her questions, never looking at her in the eyes let alone her face.
I go on to tell her that we will be needing one more medication refilled through her. She asks which medication does Miguel need and I respond, his Ritalin. I remember the look on Dr. K’s face when I asked for the refill. It was one of puzzlement that followed with her asking “Why is Dr. B not filling out this prescription for him? I asked her if she had like 5-10 more minutes to explain. She looked at me, still with that puzzled look on her face. I remember telling her that “we” would not be going back to see Dr. B, Pediatric Development Specialist, or not. Silence filled the room while she sat back down, allowing me to finish. As I continue, I told that Dr. B just wasn’t listening to my concerns. The response regardless of the concern was “oh, he’ll grow out of it.” The conversation must have taken an interesting turn at that point. Dr. K starts asking questions, wanting me to explain further what the issues were.
I begin to list the series of concerns I have;
A drastic change in his diet
Eating anything and everything to nothing but plain pasta, cereal, that famous double arch's french fries sometimes with or without nuggets.
The whole preschool fiasco.
Yes, I did. I took it all the way back.
Chuck-E-Cheeses, where not all kids can be a kid.
His usual fear of carousels, mannequins, and puppets (even sock puppets).
Phone calls and meetings from the school regarding his behavior.
Lack of conversation
Inability to make friends
Refusing to eat lunch or eat in public due to the belief that everyone stares at him while he’s eating.
Hiding his lunches inside his school desk.
Yes, this really happened and I died of embarrassment as I pulled out all of the old, moldy lunches from inside his desk.
The Kindergarten teacher wanted to hold him back to repeat kindergarten because of his social behaviors and issues.
For those wondering, I rudely told her,” no!”
Halloween turns into Hallo-scream every year to this day.
Halloween turned into an annual skip school day every year due to the costumes students were able to wear to school. Funny enough, Halloween costumes are now banned in our school system.
Sensitivity to loud noises and bright lights.
Dr. K rolled her stool closer. She then proceeded to tell me that with all those symptoms, some of the regressions, along with the school issues were starting to sound like signs and symptoms that Miguel might be on the Spectrum.
At that moment, I remember tears rolling down my eyes as she continued to explain her reasoning. She stopped and apologized for upsetting me. I explained to her that I wasn’t crying because I was upset with the diagnosis. I was crying because I felt a sense of acknowledgment and relief. Being a nurse, it was so frustrating knowing that not all the pieces fit and no one would listen. I thanked her for taking the time to explain but most importantly, listen. It was more than we’d been given in years.
“What’s next?”, I asked. She answered, a referral to the local Autism Center and follow-up with her office.
Miguel was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), AHDH, and Anxiety/Depression in 2015, after testing and multiple appointments. Although we had “names” we were already seven years behind traditionally being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The moral of the story is to always listen to your instinct and gut.
For more information on ASD please listen to our podcast episode at https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-r8rrw-dae43e or visit autismspeaks.org.
As always, should you have questions please seek medical advice as this blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice or services.