I wasn’t planning on writing the last post that I published. I had considered writing about Megan and her therapy once it had been determined what we were dealing with with her, but for some reason I felt compelled to share the situation as it stood.
The day after I published that post, Megan was scheduled for another therapy session. I thought it would be just another standard, “let’s get to know Megan a little better” and that’s exactly how it started. About halfway through the session, the therapist pulled out some paperwork and told me she was going to ask me some questions and do an evaluation. The questions were actually quite extensive, and we discussed each question, and each response I gave. When we were finished with the questionnaire, the therapist told me she was going to calculate the results and I sat in silence until she finished.
Her: “I am going to go ahead and give Megan an official diagnosis of Autism/Aspergers/PDD.”
Me: “Oh? Okay. . .”
“Scoring at about 70 or above on this evaluation is generally a good indicator that a child has Aspergers. Megan scored 160.”
“How do you feel about this diagnosis?”
I feel fine with this diagnosis, and I am not surprised. Ever since Megan was about two and a half, we have recognized some ‘abnormalities’ and autism has always been dancing around in our minds. I am not sure when exactly Adam and I started entertaining the possibility of Megan having autism, but I know it was before Megan was three years old. I remember a chance encounter with a woman where I learned about hyperlexia, and I felt so certain that Megan had hyperlexia at the time (which falls under the autism umbrella.) I went about incorporating treatments for hyperlexia/autism in Megan’s every day life and it made SUCH a difference. Since then, Adam and I have read article after article and book after book about Aspergers and sometimes things just seemed so absolute, and other times it just seemed way off. All along the way we applied what we thought was applicable to Megan and we saw definite successes.
But obviously there were times and situations and experiences that had us baffled. And so, that brings us to where we are today.
Megan’s therapist referred to Megan as extremely high functioning. She recognized that she is incredibly intelligent and gifted and she confirmed that the main “issues” with Megan are her social skills and communication. Our goal with therapy and intervention are to teach her the skills she needs to thrive in these areas especially since as she grows older, these areas will only become more complex and intricate.
Honestly, Megan having Aspergers doesn’t really matter to us. We LOVE Megan just the way she is. I just hope that I can be equal to the task and do all it takes to help Megan lead a happy and successful life. Now that is official, I have done even MORE research and learned so much MORE than I ever knew before. We have had so many “ah-ha!” moments. Mostly it has just been refreshing.
Her therapist asked me what I love and enjoy most about Megan:
“I love how smart she is. She has always been so intelligent. She is curious. I love how sweet she is. She is just genuinely kind-hearted. She is SO obedient and honest. She is HILARIOUS! She makes me laugh so much. She is downright beautiful. She is gentle and caring and peaceful. She is loving. She makes me so happy. I am just crazy about her.”
I would do anything for Megan. I love her to the moon and back.
While Megan might quite possibly be the smartest Kindergartener on the planet, the first few months of school were not smooth sailing for her.
Probably two days (maybe even three days) a week, Megan would have a meltdown at school. The reasons varied; one day it might be because there was a tiny change in the classroom routine, another day it might be because she had to move from one activity to the next before she was ready.
Every day when I would go pick Megan up from school, I would cross my fingers, brace myself, and take a deep breath, hoping that it was a good day: meltdown free. But, like I said, 2 or 3 times out of 5 I would find her red-eyed and sniffling, and would receive a report from the teacher about what random thing set Megan off that day. It was never fun, and always disheartening.
One day late in December (not too many days before Christmas break) Megan had an epic breakdown. In fact, she was so upset, that she decided she wanted her mom: immediately. So, she left school. Two office employees saw her, and were hot on her heels. They watched her leave school grounds and run across a street (without looking) and disappear around the corner. They kept chase, but called the police because they didn’t know where she was headed, nor that I lived right around that corner. They were able to catch up as she ran up to my front door, which I had flung open when I heard my child screaming in the yard. Imagine my surprise to find an inconsolable Megan, and two winded and anxious women I had never seen before.
That was the low point for me. I was so heartbroken and emotionally exhausted. What hurt the most was that my girl was so unhappy, and we couldn’t figure out how to help her. And she wasn’t just struggling at school. She had meltdowns at home (though not as frequent and not as severe) occasionally at church, and always when we were at the home of friends or family.
There are a lot of things going on with Megan that are cause for concern. And so, that same day Megan came running home from school, we scheduled her for an appointment with a behavioral therapist.
Her therapist thinks she might possibly have Aspergers, (we are still in the beginning stage of therapy and have a long way to go before anything is clear) but in the meantime, she is continuing therapy as well as occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy. I was not totally surprised by this possibility, nor am I too upset about it (I was at first). I am so anxious to find ways to make Megan happy. That’s ALL I care about. Before she even had her first therapy session, we also started Megan on some multi-vitamins. I have always been concerned with her eating habits, and I had already firmly believed that we were dealing with something like autism or Aspergers or ADD or some other thought process issue. So in doing research, I found that vitamin deficiency greatly affected children with difficulties similar to Megan’s. I would swear up and down that the multi-vitamins have made a HUGE difference in her cognitive functioning. Since she started the vitamins (the first day of January) she has had a grand total of 2 meltdowns the entire month of January AND the month of February COMBINED. TWO. From September to December she was having AT LEAST 2 meltdowns: PER WEEK. In addition to the vitamins, we’ve also been able to get her eat a little better. It’s amazing the difference it has made.
Megan is now recieving therapy regularly, and it might be a while before we know for sure if she definitely has Aspergers or if her struggles are symptoms of something else. There are some articles I have read, however, about Asperger children that might as well have been written solely about Megan and her personality and “quirks.” This one, for example, I could have written myself: describing Megan. But really, it doesn’t matter whether she has Aspergers or not. It doesn’t change who she is or how we feel about her. All that matters is that we continue to search for tools to help her grow and develop in the most positive ways we can. I feel so sincerely that Heavenly Father is so very watchful and aware of our little family and that His spirit is continually leading and guiding us in raising Megan in the ways that she individually needs to be raised. But sadly, some days I am just not in tune with those promptings and I lose my way as her mother. I have been entrusted with such a wonderful and heavy responsibility with my children. The last thing I want to do is fail them in any way. I so deeply and sincerely hope and pray that I can be worthy of the guidance that is required of me as Megan’s mother. She deserves life’s every happiness.
Megan has been looking forward to the 100th day of school since like…day 2. I wanted to make the day special for her, but I have been more focused on Valentine’s Day and Adam’s birthday (which is TODAY!!!! Happy Birthday, Adam!!!!) I did find this cute idea on Pinterest, and I knew Megan would totally love it. So…I bought a shirt and some googly eyes. And that’s it. The shirt was only $3 at Target, and I think the googly eyes were $0.99. I am NO artist, so I first drew up a couple of practice monsters. I am kind of a perfectionist, but since I am NO artist, I knew I had to just go at it, and not think too much. So…that’s what I did. Next I started placing the eyes. At first, I thought I should start at the top and work my way down, but then I worried that I would run out of eyes before I filled the entire face. Adam suggested I spread all the large eyes first and then fill in the rest with the smaller eyes. That worked out great. Add some antennas and a smile…and Voilà!!! So…I know the monster isn’t perfectly centered. And I know that it’s obvious that I’m NO artist, but Megan loved it and THAT is all that matters.
As a new year begins and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Generally, I love New Year’s. I like bidding goodbye to a year full of ups and downs, while taking the lessons I’ve learned, and working to apply them on bettering myself. I like the idea of starting anew, making a fresh start, and letting go things that might be holding us back.
I started thinking of New Year’s resolutions around Thanksgiving time. I was really looking forward to the new year. For the most part, 2011 was a good year. Sure there were downs, but mostly there were ups. I would say that I really have no serious complaints about the year, other than my back pain that started in July. That has been really hard. But I can live with pain if it means my family is happy and things are otherwise great. We have been truly blessed.
Well…January 1st 2012 rolled around and our entire family was sick. We had some pretty bad coughs that kept us from really appreciating the start of a new year (sidenote: coughing with a herniated disk = misery. I had to brace myself each and every time a cough was coming!) We were able to go over resolutions and goals for ourselves on the 2nd, and I think it went over really well with Megan. In fact, her first goal to work on was eating more fruit with each meal and she has done EXCELLENT (this month her goal is to work on her handwriting.)
By the end of the first week of January, our coughs were getting much better. I decided that my “New Year’s” would have to start in the second week of January, and I was okay with that. Well, the first day of the second week of January, I woke up with agonizing stomach and back pains. Monday night I ended up going to the ER and discovered I had a kidney stone.
So for the next week my New Year’s was again put on hold. The back pain caused by my herniated disk was also now coming on in full force and I just have felt defeated this month. The girls have been sick, off and on, and Adam has been pretty busy with school and work.
THEREFORE, my new year is starting TOMORROW. February 1st 2012 is going to be epic. Okay, not really. But I am putting into effect the goals that I wanted to set for myself for sure. In fact, just this morning, I got a steroid injection in my spine that should help with some of the pain so that I can more aptly go about physical therapy and other treatments to help keep the pain down long-term. I really feel like I can better be the mother that I want to be, the wife I want to be, and the friend I want to be, if I have some pain management.
But as much as I love New Year’s, the fact is, we can all decided to better ourselves and set goals for ourselves at any moment and at any time, and we should. We should evaluate ourselves often and alter the little things that are holding us back from shining as brightly as we should. I am not saying we should get down on ourselves as we list our shortcomings, in fact, I think just the opposite is true. We should be more gentle with ourselves and pray for strength and guidance in all our choices in all our day-to-day activities.
So maybe you weren’t able to stick to the goals you set yourself for this new year. Go ahead and start this month. I promise I am. I am optimistic, confident, and hopeful that 2012 will be a truly wonderful year for my little family.