Thursday, March 20, 2014

Signs and Signals

The other day an email popped up in the inbox from some parenting website. In the past 8 years I've ended up on a lot of those, and usually I just dump them right into the trash, but they top article caught my eye. 10 Signs Your Child May Have Asperger's Syndrome. I clicked on the link and started reading, and was saying 'yep' after each point in regards to my little Lulu.

1. Fixation on one activity? Just take a look around her room at all of the homemade musical instruments she made out of recycling and yarn for the answer to that one.

2. Little professor speech? HA! Just ask any adult who has ever spoken to her, or go and scroll through my Facebook posts and read her quotes that I've posted. Remember her Valentine's? Her vocabulary is astounding, and includes several made up words that sound the part. Emphatic yes to this point.

3. Difficulty reading social cues? Lucy hugs every person she knows, even if it is painfully obvious that the person on the receiving end of the hug doesn't like it. We have been coaching her on this and kissing for years, and she still has troubles with it. Luckily, the kissing part is more under control, but she will tell people, 'I wish you were a part of my family so that I could kiss you on the lips.' So, yeah.

4. Need for routine? This one is killer for me, because with 4 kids and a husband with a wonky schedule, keeping a regular routine is tough. We try to keep bedtime regular, but when we screw that up she suffers dearly, and so does her teacher the next day. YES.

5. Emotional meltdowns? Lucy's tantrums are epic, and often sparked by something insignificant. Maggie wants to play house instead of vet. Sam took the red twisty straw and she got the yellow one. Fred touched her fluffy unicorn. I asked her to do homework. The fact that she's 6 1/2 makes these even more ludicrous. Yes, yes, yes.

6. Lack of empathy? This was the only one that wasn't an obvious yes. Lucy displays tons of empathy at times, but none at other times. It's a little perplexing to me.

7. Can't understand speech subtleties? Do you know how many times a day I have to ask her to look at my face and listen to how my words sound, so that I can try and clue her in on how I'm feeling about things? Dear jebus yes.

8. Unusual body language? Again, hahahahahaha! Lucy is constantly moving through space as though some weird, triply music is playing in her head. At piano, she moves like Stevie Wonder, even when she's only playing Twinkle Twinkle. The child was made for a career in interpretive dance.

9. Delayed motor development? This was the only hard no on this quiz. Lucy has always been pretty advanced with both gross and fine motor skills. Bike riding, ice skating, chopstick using, you name it!

10. Sensory sensitivities? Holy hell yes. Lucy has a horrible time participating in rug time at school because the texture of the rug is so appealing to her she can't concentrate on anything else. If her teacher puts her in a chair she's devastated because she wants to sit on the beloved rug. She's been keeping a cotton ball as a pet for weeks because she loves the way he feels. She eats many foods with glee, but has a hypersensitivity to garlic, and sobs if she sees red sauce on anything. So, again, yes.

While all of these signs point to YES, Lucy has been evaluated twice and received a big NO. Partly because she is still a little young for a diagnosis, and partly because she has days where she is pretty much, well, normal. She is on the cusp, I guess. We are taking Lucy for yet another evaluation this afternoon, where they will assess her quirky-ness and see if they can figure out ways to help her, this time with speech and language.

I struggle so much with the all of the unknown that surrounds her. I cry inside every time I see another kid cringe at her well meaning hug. I love watching her at the piano and listening to the songs she writes with names like 'life fire' or spying on her as she's totally absorbed at her easel. I don't want to change who she is. I only want to help make her voyage through this world a little easier.

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