When you have a child with Autism, and then have additional children, paranoia becomes part of the game.
I don’t know if there’s really any other way to describe it to parents who have only neuro-typical children: the constant surveillance of all of your other children’s behaviors, looking for that one indicator that you have another child on the spectrum and that you should be getting intervention pronto.
We do have one benefit that a lot of other parents with children on the spectrum don’t have – the baby’s being constantly screened as part of two or three longitudinal studies of siblings of children on the spectrum. We’re answering the M-CHAT very frequently, and he’s being given every diagnostic test that you’d normally take a child to when you’re concerned.
So when the most recent test came back showing that the baby’s receptive language was delayed (scoring at 9 months when he was fourteen), we naturally panicked.
(Now, mind you, that’s the only indicator that showed a delay, and that could be from any number of things – we’ve clearly been doing things differently with the baby than with the Monster, because a) we’re juggling two kids and b) we do – because we’re bad parents – sometimes slack on some of the things we did right with the Monster just for feeling like we need to concentrate more on the first one.)
Friday was the day that Infants and Toddlers arranged for the baby’s screening, which was held at the nearby JCC. When we arrived at the room, we were surprised pleasantly to find that we knew the majority of the team screening the baby – they were coincidentally the providers that had been working with the Monster. Everyone knew us, except for the service coordinator and the special educator. Having that kind of rapport with the team made the whole matter easier, since the ones doing the evaluation, therefore, largely knew what questions we’d have answers for and how to best direct the testing to concentrate on the areas of concern.
To cut a very long story short… there’s no cause for concern. Even the baby’s receptive score is back into the normal range (fourteen months now as he’s approaching sixteen), and they think that the test that he’d taken was possibly just a ‘blip’ from him being tired or just not showing something during the testing. His motor skills are actually above the curve, and his expressive skills are on track. Ergo, there’s no call for services at this point.
The fact is, getting him screened this early really does make us feel better. As they say, even paranoids have legitimate fears…