Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Alexander's Diagnosis Part 2

If you clicked the first link I shared at the end of my post yesterday you've already seen this little Q&A.

What are the symptoms of autism?
The main signs and symptoms of autism involve problems in the following areas:
  • Communication - both verbal (spoken) and non-verbal (unspoken, such as pointing, eye contact, and smiling)
  • Social - such as sharing emotions, understanding how others think and feel, and holding a conversation
  • Routines or repetitive behaviors (also called stereotyped behaviors) - such as repeating words or actions, obsessively following routines or schedules, and playing in repetitive ways

If you're interested in info specifically about Alexander, read on.

For the appointment on Friday I had already filled out several questionnaires about Alexander's habits and abilities and they had me fill out one more up to date one while we were there. Then the doctor brought us in and observed Alexander playing while she asked me more questions (mostly repeats of things I'd already answered).

After a little while, she leaned forward and said something to effect of "So here's what we're looking at, the diagnosis is Autism Spectrum Disorder and here's why" and went straight into a detailed explanation of her diagnosis and the symptoms she saw to confirm it. I'm sure I'm not going to remember everything she said while writing this but I wanted to share at least some of it and have it typed up for future reference as well.

So here are the things she pointed out about our boy under the categories of symptoms from above:

Communication -
Non-verbal (obviously)
Lacking in meaningful gestures (doesn't sign much or even point)
Some eye contact but not consistent

Social -
Doesn't engage other children
Doesn't respond to name when called (I can't remember if this was this category or the first one)
There were one or two other small things in this category but I can't remember what they were...

Routines or repetitive behaviors -
Becoming fixated on objects (examining toys for "too long")
Gets down on eye level to play with toys (lays on the floor next to cars and trains)
Some spinning

I really appreciated her straight forward approach because I hate it when I have to ask a doctor to explain something or repeat something and they look at me like I'm an idiot. This doctor never once acted like I should know something I didn't (unlike when Alexander's pediatrician diagnosed him as "Failure to Thrive" and never once said those words to me but acted like I was stupid when I was surprised when she mentioned it off hand during another visit.) The Marcus Center doctor also seemed to recognize that I am the supreme authority on my son and never once acted like something I wanted to mention was irrelevant or trivial. In a way, it felt more like a "Meeting" instead of an "Appointment." Which really means that it just felt the way a doctor's appointment should feel. I told my mom that I liked the doctor's "floor-side manner" because I spent about half of the visit sitting on the floor handing Alexander Cheerios as he went by and she didn't even bat an eye.

Alexander is a very happy kid (and the doctor could see that, even though he was a little grumpy before I realized he was hungry and offered him those Cheerios). He smiles and laughs a lot and loves to hug and snuggle with his parents. He's not overly aggressive and doesn't hurt himself or others with repetitive behaviors. So a lot of the stereotyped issues are not the problems we're having. But he can't communicate unless Mommy reads his mind. And since Prof. Charles Xavier and I are not the close-knit buds we used to be, we need other resources if we're going to help him interact more effectively with the world. All I want is to know what's going on inside that little head of his and I hope one day he'll answer when I ask him.


  1. Amy, you are amazing! Alexander is blessed to have you as his mother. I have two friends here that have boys diagnosed with autism (one recent and one a couple of years ago). Both boys are so smart and loving and are thriving because of the programs they're in. It's nice to live in this day and age where there is so much help available. I'm glad you're sharing your experience here.

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  3. You are both awesome parents! It takes a lot of patience, understanding and love having a child diagnosis is Autism and you both were blessed to have him in your lives. I know that the programs will help him as well as going to school 5 times a week, being consist is the best for him. I love you guys and thank you for sharing. If you need anything let me know. You are both AWESOME!!! This is Tamra and I tried to figure out how to make it say Tamra and my picture.... Love ya!!!