Recently I had coffee with a friend. It had been several months since we’d seen each other, and we were having a nice time catching up. She has a son a few years younger than my seven-year-old. We were chatting about plans for summer camps, upcoming travels, and our kids’ respective schools. I recalled to her the several calls I had received from the principal’s office last year, his kindergarten year, requesting I come to get him due to behavior issues in the classroom.
I had started to suspect my son had a disorder of some sort: ADD, OCD, or perhaps high-functioning ASD (autism spectrum disorder). When these suspicions had started months earlier, I scheduled an evaluation with the pediatric developmental specialist in town (our appointment was coming up). It was a gut instinct, based on certain behaviors and processes that I saw coming consistently from my son. My instinct regarding this had recently become so strong I would have bet my life that something was going on.
In fact, it had become so strong so quickly and so recently that I hadn’t even told my husband my suspicions yet. And I was bursting to tell someone, to say the words out loud so I could start processing them. And here was my friend. And here we were, chatting about our children over coffee.
I broached the subject. “Yeah, [my son] is different.”
She looked at me, then quickly, almost too quickly, said “Well, all kids are different.” She shrugged. “They’re all different.”
I felt a punch to the gut.
I kept my mouth shut about that topic for the rest of the coffee date. In fact, I wasn’t much inspired to say a whole lot more of anything.
A month later my son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The diagnosis comes with a lot of relief, that he’s not being difficult or defiant for the sake of it, that there are support structures we can put in place. That we can take a new approach to understand him in his dimension.
I had lunch with a different friend the other day. When I told her of the diagnosis, she looked at me and quickly said “Why don’t you guys come over for a play date?”
This is a friend I’ll be spending more time with.
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.