Diagnosis Day: October 3, 2005 (no picture today - not writing from my computer)
Yes, I remember the exact date. We waited until Thomas was four years old to get the official diagnosis. We could have done it earlier, but decided against it for a few reasons. First of all, we wanted to get as accurate a diagnosis as possible, and not a best-guess ...answer, come back in 2 years sort of deal. We wanted to let him unfold as much as possible before diagnosing. Secondly, Thomas was already getting all the therapies & services he could get without the diagnosis, so there was no reason to rush there. And as far as his education went, he could still qualify for Developmental Preschool under the category of Developmental Delay; it wasn't until Kindergarten that he would have required a more specific diagnosis.
When he turned four, we got the referral from Dr. Schechter to Riley Child Development Center for a diagnosis. We liked that more general approach than going to the Autism Center at Riley simply because we didn't want them just to be looking for Autism (if all you've got is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail, you know?). What if it was something else? Or more than that?
We had to wait nearly 6 months for an appointment, and it was hard to wait. But the day came and we drove up to Indianapolis and stayed in a hotel near the hospital overnight so we could be there for the 8am appointment.
It was a full day of testing, interviews & observations. They observed Thomas, attempted to interact, watched how he played, and interviewed us. And at the end of the afternoon, they sat us at a table, and very carefully, gently but clearly said that the best way to describe what was going on with Thomas is autism. The psychologist gave us a minute to let it sink in. My memory is a little blurry, but I do remember another pause in the discussion, at which point I sobbed, strongly & hard, for an intense but not overly long amount of time. Then I remember stopping, looking up, and asking what was next.
Tomorrow: leaving Riley and the drive home.