We got to Seattle Children’s Autism Center on time for our October 22nd appointment. Actually, we were early and sat out in the car for a bit before going in. Once we went inside, Simon immediately ran for the salt water fish tank in the waiting area and started signing ‘fish’ with a big ol’ smile on his face. It’s not the greatest marine tank I’ve ever seen; it’s poorly set up and some of the fish look positively ill, but he loves it.

We met with a nurse practitioner at this appointment. She was very nice and spent almost an hour with us. The room she met with us was not her normal office and it was poorly equipped for a toddler; no toys, etc. I tried distracting Simon with his book, but he kept trying to climb up onto the desk to play with the computer and the phone. Eventually, I gave him my phone, even though I knew he’d throw a major fit later when I took it away.

We discussed all of Simon’s medical history, his EI evaluations and experiences, family history, etc. She examined Simon physically, including height, weight, head circumference, heart/lung sounds, and the palms of his hands (more on that later). She watched him with his book and tried to interact with him, but he wasn’t having any of that.

I’m going to pause here and say that in some respects I think it’s inaccurate to do these evaluations outside of the child’s comfort zone. No one, neuro-typical or not, adult or child, is going to behave in their normal fashion when they’re put into a new environment with new people peering at them and trying to make them do things. Just sayin’.

When she finished her exam and observation, she turned to talk to me.

“At this point, I would say that Simon is showing behaviors that are consistent with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

And there it was. The word that changes nothing, yet changes everything. My heart broke.

AUTISM.

My son is autistic. Simon has autism. He is on the spectrum. The words just kept pounding through my brain.

Even though it wasn’t unexpected, we knew this was coming, it was still a blow to hear it spoken out loud.

Simon has autism.

I started to cry.

Before we left, I scheduled an follow-up appointment with a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician for a “diagnosis confirmation” appointment in December. They gave me a bunch of handouts, including “The First 100 Days” packet that is produced by Autism Speaks. And that, as they say, was that.

We drove back towards home and got Happy Meals for everyone. Just because.

My son is autistic.

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