It was obvious she was uncomfortable where she sat fidgeting in her chair between the other two specialists. She had been speaking around it for minutes, slowly approaching the topic like a predator circles its prey and I knew by the way she now hesitated that it was time for the verdict. I embraced myself for what was about to be said and did not have to wait for long. “We all agree that V is autistic” she said solemnly followed by a silence. My husband and I gave each other a knowing look and then he said with a sad smile: “Well, we kind of knew that already”. And it was true, we had known ever since our older son got diagnosed almost 7 months ago.
This was three days ago in a result meeting with the specialists that had been analyzing Vfor the past 5 months. We had been preparing for V receiving an autism diagnosis ever since our first suspicion rose shortly after JA was diagnosed. Our belief that V had autism had only become stronger with time. He was showing many of the typical symptoms and the more we educated ourselves about autism the more certain we became. But despite our firm belief we were still concerned with our reaction when it would finally be confirmed. As already asked in a previous blog post, we were not sure whether it was really possible to prepare for an autism diagnosis? Therefore, we embraced ourselves for a blow despite our best efforts to prepare. I could only hope that we would overcome the shock much faster this time.
Thus, I am rather surprised that now, three days after we got the news, we are still waiting for the shock to hit. I am almost afraid to say it but I am not sure it will! But then when I think about it, maybe it is not so strange after all. You see, we had pretty much excluded the possibility of it not being autism and consciously put all hope of anything else behind us. I think that we already experienced the shock of it all last fall when JA got diagnosed. As explained in my post “Are They Both Autistic?” we soon realized that if JA was considered autistic, V, who showed a lot more symptoms than JA ever did, would most definitely also be diagnosed with autism. Therefore, I think we experienced a double shock back then. It was without a doubt the most difficult time of our lives. We were devastated. Now, the only thing I feel is relief. Now, finally, it is possible to get my little V all the help he needs.
Getting an autism diagnosis for V was so different from when we received the news for JA. Really, it is like black and white. As my post about JA’s diagnosis clearly explains, it was an immense shock. Unlike with V, we had not been expecting it at all in JA’s case and we sat there like frozen while we were delivered the news. Back then, we also did not know much about autism. We thought we knew, but our limited knowledge was to a large extent based on wrong assumptions. We simply could not picture JA within that prefixed mindset of what we thought was autism. He did not fit that profile. Of course, now we know better. But that is also precisely why we took the news of V’s diagnosis with such calm certitude. Naturally, since JA’s diagnosis, we had been educating ourselves about autism and were well aware of how differently it can be portrayed between individuals on the spectrum. We also knew that V fit the profile a little too well for it to be a coincidence. The evidence were too overwhelming for us not to put together two and two and get out four. We simply knew. I guess, what surprised us was how solidly that knowledge had sunk in, hence making us as prepared as humanly possible.
However, there was another thing that we had not expected. We were both very relieved that the news affected us so mildly and thus we were a little taken aback when we told our parents about the results. Their reaction was much more forceful than ours. Apparently, they had still been hoping for the possibility that we were wrong. And although they tried their best to hide their emotions, probably for our sake, we noticed their shock. Of course, we, the boys’ parents, are not the only once that this affects. It affects everyone around us who share our love for them. And of course, they need their time to adjust to these news just like we do. In our case however, due to the fact that we live in another country than our families, they are not able to meet V and JA on a daily basis and thus, do not witness the symptoms as frequently and clearly as we do. Our time to adjust to and accept the overwhelming probability of V being autistic has been much much longer.
So here is what I want to recap from what I have written as to emphasize the final point. Apparently, if you are really sure about your child’s condition and no longer think there is any hope for another outcome, it is possible to prepare for an autism diagnosis. At least in our case, the shock we embraced ourselves for when receiving V’s diagnosis never came. Perhaps I should add a tentative ‘yet’ to that sentence… But parents and siblings are not the only once affected by an autism diagnosis. It affects everyone who bears love for the individual diagnosed and they can just as well feel the blow of such a diagnosis. And it is not only normal – it also shows how much they care. And although it saddens me that those I care about suffer, I cannot help but rejoice over the fact that my boys are so loved.