Today is surreal.
Yesterday, I was nervous, anxious, a little bit nauseous, stressed – you name it, I felt it. It was the day of Miss 5’s paediatric appointment to assess her development. We had been waiting for this day for months and now it was finally here, I was wishing it away.
Maybe we were imagining everything, maybe it was all learned behaviour, maybe it’s just because she is a little sensitive 5 year old girl…
We went into the appointment not knowing what was going to happen. I had my suspicions, as did my husband, but we were unsure whether we would come out with any answers at all. As the paediatrician herself said, this is a complicated case.
She reviewed all those reports we had painstakingly obtained from the occupational therapist, speech pathologist, school counsellor and her class teacher. She observed Miss 5 talking away with the stuffed animals at the play table while we went through all our concerns. She asked us specific questions about her behaviour, interests and social skills. She ticked off a few lists and carefully wrote all our responses in our daughter’s paper file.
In the end, complicated as she is, my daughter showed enough behaviours to be placed on the milder end of the autism spectrum. She has been diagnosed with Aspergers Disorder which lies on the same end of the autism spectrum as my son’s diagnosis of high functioning autism but differs in a number of subtle ways.
I knew this was possible. I had prepared myself for it. I had rationally and objectively accepted this was one possible outcome. Yet, I still could not stop the tears falling or the sobs coming when she said it. As I write this, the tears are still falling.
It will take me a while to be able to think about the diagnosis without being overly upset about it. I have grieved twice before with the diagnoses for my son, I know it will get better. However, as prepared as you are for it, knowing that your own fears for your child are real and not imagined, that really stabs you in the heart.
So, today, I have been trying to process it all and get my mind around what comes next. Once the paperwork comes through confirming the diagnosis we can seek an appointment with a psychologist to help with my daughter’s anxieties. We can also apply to FaHCSIA for funding under the Helping Children with Autism Package. We received this funding for our son and it helped us out so much.
I am trying to remain positive and focus on what we can do next to help her but I am worried about “the label”. With our son, the label that came with the autism diagnosis was welcome, it helped us obtain funding and assistance for him that he needed. He clearly has special needs and I have never hidden these to his teachers, friends or family.
My daughter is different. She doesn’t appear to have any special needs and while a label might help the school obtain extra aide time, a label can also imply certain expectations of function and behaviour. I don’t want her to be judged by the fact she has Aspergers – I want her to be judged on what she can do as an intelligent, funny, affectionate, unique little girl.
She may be known by a different label today, but to me she is still my little girl from yesterday – and I will always love her, just as she is.