Thanks China Guy for your thoughts. I’ve been putting off coming back to this thread as I’m still trying to get my head around this, but I know that you put a lot of work into your response and I owe you a reply.
My boy is 4 and a half. He’s generally a happy little boy that adores Lego and imagination play using action figures, Lego men, etc. He’s bright, notices everything, speaks well and has a very good vocabulary. He also has attention problems and problems following tasks without instructions being repeated.
We had him evaluated at 4 because the pre-school flagged him with developmental, social, and gross/fine motor delays. The pediatrician evaluated him by talking with him and getting him to follow along with a story book and asking things like “why is the little girl in the story doing that” and “Does she look happy or sad?”. He aced this and our doctor told us that our boy was the human equivalent to a lab puppy and would grow into himself. He made available the option to rebook should things not change, but he didn’t think that would be needed. We, the parents, were very relieved and rested knowing our little boy was “normal”.
He didn’t improve. We brought him back for another eval to the same pediatrician, and he was more concerned after this second eval. The doctor actually come out to our son’s pre-school for 2 hours and observed him playing and interacting with other children.
After that he called us to tell us his diagnosis has changed and saw autistism as a real possibility, mainly due to social and behavioral clues. Our boy “parallel plays” and doesn’t participate with the other children. During group activities he appears lost and wanting to join in with the fun but not knowing how to contribute. He doesn’t seem to empathize with others feelings nor follow simple social rules like saying goodbye to his friends.
The pediatrician won’t make a final diagnosis as he wants to refer us to another pediatrician/psychiatrist team that specializes in diagnosing autism, but he told us that it’s almost certain that he is autistic. On the plus side he said that our boy is high functioning, and with therapy and behavioral teachings there’s a good chance that he could be “mainstream”.
We have been referred already to our provincial health care system for speech and occupational therapy, and the pre-school is applying for a personal teaching assistant to help during the day. We do have good insurance, but our doctor suggested giving the public system a try first as they can do good work. Also, because he was diagnosed before public school age his therapists go through the public health care system, even after he joins school. If he was diagnosed next year while attending public school his therapy would be the responsibility of the public school system, which is much more overworked and underfunded.
If it’s HFA or Aspergers, then with therapy we hope he’ll have a chance to live a good life (?). I guess in the end we should count ourselves lucky as we know others have it much worse.
The other part in this is that my wife and I have been trying for years to have a second, and she was actually due to start a drug course this month. Our doctor told us that autism may have an inherited genetic link and the odds could be as high as 10% of a second autistic child. Again, we should be counting ourselves lucky to have one little boy who loves his mommy and daddy.