I was at a birthday party on Saturday for my son’s teacher’s daughter (got that?) at Chuck E. Cheese. J was really enjoying the party with his friends, ate him some veggies, skipped the pizza, and got his boogie down. I watched him kick some butt at air hockey and resisted the urge to gloat. “Fine motor skills of a 3 year old my butt.” Once the actual birthday celebration started, however, things changed a little. It wasn’t TERRIBLE, but let’s just say that for the 7 or 8 minutes that the creepy mouse was over at our table, my son spent the entire time under that table. He refused to take a picture with his friends as they posed with Chuck and he finally came out once I convinced him the mouse was gone for good.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, it was actually J’s teacher that clued me in to SPD in the first place. She mentioned that she had taken care of a boy before that had similar symptoms and had requested she use some of the “treatment tactics” on J – which worked for a while. She pointed out the boy’s mother at the party and I introduced myself. After watching J’s first OT session on Friday, I didn’t really know what to think. The entire process was confusing and overwhelming to the point that I knew I needed to ask questions, but wasn’t sure which questions to ask.
The woman (we’ll call her Nancy, because I’ve temporarily forgotten her name anyway) began to tell me about her son who is just under 4. He too, was a preemie and the more she described his symptoms, the more frantically I shook my head. This boy sounded so much like J that I could have sworn she was describing our life. Ultimately, her son was diagnosed with SPD and high-functioning autism. It has been a year since she began OT and she said she was so incredibly happy to share her story with me as it felt nice to describe out loud how close she was to being at the “end” of the difficult journey. The moment she said there was an “end”, my heart stopped.
She went on to say that her son had made so many improvements through OT, the doctor was now admitting that “Hey, you know what? He may not have autism after all!” Now that her son was more comfortable in his own body, the “symptoms” of autism were gone. He rarely uses the headphones she bought to drown out the loud noises. He is coping well and by the time he enters kindergarten, she is convinced he’ll almost be at an even playing field with the other children.
I teared up a little. In those 10 minutes I was listening to her describe her situation, all the stress and worry I felt had melted away. She knew precisely how I felt after just learning about the disorder. She knew the guilt I felt. She knew everything and here she was telling me that there was hope. Those 10 minutes completely changed my outlook on J’s diagnosis and our future. I understand the struggles lying ahead of us, but I now understand that there is a reason for the struggle and as we work harder and time goes by, we can sit back and feel relief as J and I are nearing our end of the journey.