Lion has now received four weeks of EI therapy from our city’s Infants and Toddlers program. Even though we _hated_ the evaluation and thought it was handled so incredibly poorly, we decided to wait and see what his therapists were like. Because the services are FREE and the therapists come TO OUR HOUSE and so if there was a chance that they were good, we wanted to take advantage of getting Lion these services.
On Monday morning Lion gets 30 minutes of “Special Instruction” and on Tuesday morning he gets 30 minutes of speech therapy. Both are first thing in the day, so we don’t have to be all that late dropping them off at daycare and getting to work. Both therapists are excellent. They are warm and engaging and positive. The Spec. Instruction works on things like turn-taking, staying engaged in an activity for a set period of time, following directions. Speech therapy is speech therapy–getting him to use language functionally, put words together, etc. And in both areas, Lion is just BLOOMING.
We’ve seen so much change in the last month. His vocabulary continues to grow and grow. And finally (FINALLY) in the last two weeks, he is starting to put two words together. He’s doing it now every day. (Just a little bit, but hearing something like “Mommy back” or “Yay, dry clothes” is an ENORMOUS breakthrough for him right now.) I taught him to say: “You” when I say: “I love” to him. Then he grabs my face and mouth and kisses me over and over and hugs me tightly. He is such an affectionate guy. My favorite are the sneak back hugs, when I’m on the floor, changing Tiny or playing with their trains or whatever, and all of a sudden I feel the weight of a Lion against my back, his chubby arms wrapped around me, patting me. So sweet.
At daycare, he is blossoming as well. Doing great with following directions, playing and engaging the other kids, making eye contact, using words, asking for what he wants. Every day his provider tells us how awesome he is doing. It is so good to hear.
Next week, we are taking him for a special “developmental evaluation” at a private institute. It will take place over the course of 3 half-days and will be a very thorough and detailed and dimensional look at our Lion–who he is, what his strengths are, how he learns, where he struggles.
That’s how I’m framing it in my head. But in actuality, what he is being tested for is ASD.
And even with all this improvement, the evaluation looms like a large, black cloud over our heads. We have so much fear about it, so much worry and concern about how he will do, what they will say, what it will mean.
Unfortunately, that anxiety, coupled with major stress at work, cased me to topple down into a deep, deep hole over the last six weeks. I have struggled with a mood disorder for over 20 years now. I have done 10 years of talk therapy and then, between 2006 and 2011, did 5.5 years of an SSRI. I got, what I thought, was “whole” and “healed” between both of those therapies. In the fall after the boys’ were born, I felt the best I’d ever felt in my life and I went off my meds. And did great. And then stress happened. And I was no longer on my medication. And I relapsed.
I now see that my disorder will probably be a lifelong condition for me. (I think the term I read in a book was “relapsing, remitting”) and that I will need to control it with medication the way someone might need to manage diabetes or a thyroid imbalance. This has been a difficult realization for me and has made for some pretty intense suffering and anxiety over the last month plus. The medication that worked for 5+ years no longer works now that I’ve tried to resume it, so I’m currently a lab rat trying to find something that WILL work. Because basically, we’re in the Stone Ages when it comes to understanding the brain and how to treat these disorders. In the meantime, I have felt alternately like total shit or like total panic while I’ve been waiting for something to work. It’s been rough. But I decided to write about it because, just like the stigma of miscarriage, or of infertility is so great, so is the stigma of mood disorders. And I believe in doing things to reduce that stigma. So, this.
In other news, we recently made some improvements to our quality of life on the weekends (in response to my: “Help! The weekends suck and are totally overwhelming!” post.) We now mostly get our groceries delivered. The delivery fee is 8 bucks (plus a tip). It is a very, very low-cost way to significantly improve our errand/chore list for the weekends. And since I typically HATE going to the grocery store, being proactive about this has made a big difference. We are also getting our lawn mowed bi-monthly (I similarly hate yard work) AND, in our biggest and more expensive step, are getting our house cleaned every other week. That was a harder one to justify, although at $75/cleaning it isn’t exactly bank-breaking, but many commenters urged it as a suggestion and I just want to say: YOU WERE SO FUCKING RIGHT. Man does that lighten my stress and make me happy. I feel like I have so much more time to be relaxed and doing fun things with my kids on the weekends now. It is such a luxury.
So yeah. I DID actually make some big improvements to our life stressors over the last 3 months. Now if we can just get through our Lion’s fucking evaluation next week and get me to feel a little bit better and a little less like a fucking lunatic, then life can go back to being awesome. Stay tuned.
PS: Also, Tiny is awesome too. He didn’t get any shout-outs in this post since I was talking so much about the Lion and about myself, but Tiny is amazing and fun and funny and lighting up our worlds every day, just like his brother.