Thursday, June 28, 2012

A New Milestone - Cat is out of the bag

For the past month, actually more than a month but it has been particularly more this past month, Jonathan has been struggling with internal emotions that he could not explain. I have been feeling guilty because he was in a way begging to understand what is going on and we had not had the courage to tell him about his diagnosis. His social skills therapist told me last month that I most tell him, but I have been on denial, hoping that I wouldn't ever have to tell him. Or perhaps when he is old enough to appreciate how far he has come. But today again the conflicts and sadness were too overwhelming and I filled myself with courage and confronted my fears and told him. I started by telling him that I was going to tell him something that would help him understand why he feels the way he does. I then asked him if he remembered the book he read while at SACC that talked about ADD, ADHD, dyslexia and Autism. He said he remembered and that there is no way that he had any of those. My heart sank. I then told him that when he was 2.5 years old, he had been diagnosed with high functioning autism. He said "oh my god, no" and got anxious. I then went on to tell him that the diagnosis was high functioning autism and for all intents and purposes he was fine. He relax a bit. I could not bring myself to tell him that he was pretty severe at 2.5. I then went on to tell him that he had improved a great deal over the years and he now just has some social issues and some obsessions, and that at times his brain might do its own thing so it is better if he knows what is going on so he can learn to control it. Then he said "so what you are telling me is that I that I basically have autism". And I breathed and said "yes". And he started to cry and said "no, I don't want it. I don't want to have autism. No". I found myself composed and told him not to be scared. That his autism was so high functioning that he did not need any help from anyone and if people didn't know better, they would not know. He begged me not to tell anyone "mom, if people at my school knew, they would treat me like a freak and they would put me in the class for autistic kids. I don't want that. I don't want to be in that class". I told him to relax. That there is nothing to be ashamed of. We don't need to tell anyone, but he needs to know. Told him that the school principal and teachers knew and they were so impressed with how well he does in a large group that they will never put him in that classroom. I told him that I would show him his IEP. He relaxed. I then told him that we have been working hard to make sure that he overcomes it and that some kids like my little brother and others have ADD and there is nothing to be ashamed of. His answer to my comment was "mom, the difference is that there is medicine to cure ADD, but there is no medicine to cure autism". That statement caught off guard. I breathed and told him that that was true but what makes kids with autism get better is starting therapies when they are very young. That we started when he was very young and mentioned all the therapies he has done. He was shocked to discover that. I also told him that for him taking his daily supplements is similar to the medicine tht the ADD kids take and makes him better. Just like wearing glasses. It does not cure but makes it better. He was devastated for a good chunk of time. We then arrived to Tae Kwon Do and I told him to go exercise because that would help him get some of the anger and frustration out of his system. Before he went in I told him that I am very proud of him. That I know he will not understand and appreciate how far he has come until he is older, but I wanted him to know that he has overcome autism and whatever is left, daddy and I will continue to fight to make it better. That he needs to learn to love himself and appreciate himself because it is crucial for his own happiness and I will drill it into his head until I know he gets it. He smiled and said ok. He has matured a great deal and I have noticed that he keeps his feelings to himself too much. Perhaps this will open a door for him and us to a higher level of understanding and communication. I love him with all my heart. Today has very hard for me. I had hoped to never have to say those words to him. But he still has issues and is looking for answers. And I hope that this helps him see life differently, brighter. I will help him achieve that. Today we also lost a wonderful family member. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Tia Loli, we love you wherever you are. May God bless your soul.