Tuesday, July 27th, we took Micah for his long awaited Autism Assessment evaluation appointment in Oklahoma City. What a day it turned out to be. Up until the appointment, we had been given belief that he's high functioning or another words, has Asperger's. How wrong we were.
The team at the Oklahoma University Child Study Center were great. We were made to feel very welcome and at ease with the entire process. Micah wasn't so sure about it at first but once I took off his shoes so he could go bare foot, he calmed down quite a bit. Micah only wears shoes outdoors. Indoors, he will fuss and cry if you make him wear them. Seems that he enjoys being able to feel the floor with his feet. We were welcomed by a gentleman who is the parent of 3 special needs children. I believe that he said they are all autistic. He took us into a room where Micah could play and get settled in. We were brought up to speed on what would be taking place that day. Next, we began meeting the rest of the team of doctors who would be observing and evaluating Micah. The team spoke to us about our concerns and what we would like from their evaluation. Our primary concerns were: 1. A diagnosis as to what Micah's exact issues are, 2. Recommendations to help us in providing therapy he needs, and 3. We wanted to have information about resources & support available.
I was impressed on how easily they were able to take various forms of play and use them to test Micah's understanding. One game was showing him a little car then hiding it under one of two washcloths. He was then asked to find the car. Sadly, Micah just sat on my lap and did nothing in response. All the while, the 2 doctors testing him would take turns trying new little games with him. At one point, Micah got stressed and had to get off my lap to walk in circles while finger flapping. He then was brought back on my lap to finish this part of the testing.
Next, the same 2 doctors took us back into the larger play room and observed him with toys on the floor. Micah simply walked in circles around them and never tried to play with any of them. They were simply an obstacle to walk around. The toys were picked up and 1 of the doctors then tried to engage Micah in playing with her. One thing that she did that got his attention was blowing bubbles. He loves bubbles! He would watch her do so but had no way to ask her to continue when she would stop for a moment. After this, Micah was given a very thorough physical exam. This part he did very well.
After a brief time of the doctors consulting each other, they prepared the report for us. Here is the core of the issue. Micah doesn't have the more mild form of autism known as Asperger's Syndrome as was believed. Micah has the more intensive version known simply as Autism. The worst part is that at age 27 months, he is speaking as a 10 month old and has a 6 month old's understanding of what is said to him.
This diagnosis was a blow to us. We knew that Micah would have obstacles and challenges ahead of him, but this diagnosis just increased them. Personally, I feel heartbroken when I think of how hard he will have to struggle to overcome his challenges. We were given some resources to give us both support from other families with autistic children and therapy resources that will work with us and coach us in how to do therapy with Micah.
This diagnosis wasn't want he hoped to hear, but now we know what we are dealing with and how to help.