Jesus, take the wheel.
It's hard to admit that military medicine might not universally suck, and yet yesterday, the best thing that could happen to our family happened. And it happened at the hands of an Air Force doctor.
Some background: Elder sprog has been through the medical system and California's First Five system since he was about three years old. We'd noticed he had delayed speech development, and he was also having difficulty with motor skills and sensory triggers--loud noises would overwhelm him, for example. When we had him evaluated, he qualified for services, but each state we landed in, each school system, and even each new person who saw him came up with a different answer. All agreed he was smart--even his pre-K teachers would constantly bring us over to show us the new pulley system he engineered to put toys away, etc.--but he just wouldn't engage with other kids and certainly couldn't engage in imaginative play.
Nobody could agree on what was wrong with him, so I started researching.
And what I found was Asperger's. It just seemed to fit. So we went to the primary care doctor in Monterey--a civilian, which meant he listened to us, ahem--and got a referral for sprog's evaluation for Asperger's. Tricare sent us to Stanford, which has a great developmental department for kids with autism. We were psyched. Answers, at last! Unfortunately, only one of us could go to the evaluation because we were told it would be an all-day thing and younger sprog had something going on. So husband left and I stayed home to be sure younger sprog got to his whatever-the-hell-it-was.
That night, husband returned home, completely dejected. "They said there's no way it's Asperger's because of his speech delay," he said. "But they said his IQ is 67, and he'll never be able to live on his own."
We were devastated. And confused. Our bright, inquisitive child who already grasped some awesome engineering concepts was intellectually disabled? It just didn't fit. It was during spring break of his homeschool kindergarten year that our request for an IEP for him finally made it to the district psychologist. She took one look at his test scores and the Stanford write-up, and called me. During spring break. She wanted to take her week off to come talk to the sprog and see if she could evaluate him. I agreed, and she spent the week at our house, even bringing another psychologist with her one day.
His IQ, when he was submitted to a language-based exam, was 67. His IQ, when he was submitted to other types of exams, was closer to 160. Imagine that! Language delay...and can't complete a language-based exam. Stunning!
His favorite pastime, mazes, resulted in a moment of ah-ha for all of us. He got a little overwhelmed on one maze, and he was about to spool, so I asked if he could be allowed to finish it with one bit of advice. I showed him where he'd made a wrong turn (about halfway through the maze), he went back to that point and completed it. "Do you know the age that maze was meant to test?" the psychologist asked me. "Fifteen."
Sprog was five.
Alas, they said his language and sensory issues gave a false positive on autism tests, and they didn't think he was autistic. This was largely because he checked off common autism and Asperger's traits, but was missing one or two on each list, disqualifying him.
Apparently, that was key.
Yesterday, sprog finally made it through Tricare's referral system and into a developmental pediatrician's office. We were there well over two hours while a pediatrician evaluated sprog. I was stunned for those two hours because he knew all the right questions to ask and the right ways to phrase them. He continually pulled all the issues sprog has and made them very evident. He was interested in sprog. He was engaged. He built up great rapport with sprog very quickly. He was fabulous...and a military doctor, at Portsmouth Naval.
What the fucking fuck, amirite?
He looked at our evaluations, the teacher evaluations, past tests, current tests, and asked me to complete one more parent evaluation. And when it was done, he gave us a diagnosis and a way forward.
No false positive, he said. Our son is high-functioning autistic, and we are able to nail that definitive diagnosis because the DSM moved all of these diagnoses under the autism umbrella last year. He would be Asperger's, the doc said, but for the speech delay.
Finally, our child, with his various issues that nobody would take seriously (oh, he doesn't require services - he functions just fine! except for these "behavior" problems; we seriously need to get him over that, so please talk to him about appropriate responses) because we didn't have a diagnosis that made sense, has a diagnosis. It makes sense. It fits. And it opens up a world of options for us that we didn't have mere hours before.
We have referrals incoming, and we're going to get EFMP status. We are going to get our sprog help. We have a diagnosis we can take to the school. We have options. It took seven years to get to this point, but by gods we have options.
And we owe this treasure trove of winningness and awesome to an Air Force developmental pediatrician who listened, who gave a shit, who wanted our sprog to be able to find ways around and over his challenges so he can be and do anything he wants in life.
So it is with great regret that I rescind my statement that all military doctors suck. Not all military doctors suck. Apparently, the Air Force has some really specfuckingtacular ones.
Thank you, Air Force doctor. You have turned 2014 into an automagically amazing year. This is the year we felt hope.
5 days ago