Autism Evaluations and a Shitty Teacher

I was a single mom, with a good government job, but I still couldn’t make ends meet. I was getting zero child support. Not that it hadn’t been court ordered, it just wasn’t getting paid, but that is a part of the journey I will avoid telling, because although relevant... the reasons why I was in distress, in so many areas of my life, won’t make my journey as the parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum any more helpful than the stories are without that knowledge. Just know that life was hard for a lot of reasons.

You learned, in the last post, that I had done my research... and a lot of it, in preparation for my daughter’s first evaluation, that would include an Autism Specialist. I became obsessive with learning all things “Autism.” I read. I talked to other parents, in online forums. I talked to people that had relatives on the spectrum. I talked with friends that had experience in special education. I researched!

I remember very little about this first evaluation. You remember... the one that the home evaluation had birthed? I don’t even remember how long I had to wait between the home evaluation and the team evaluation, at the local Education School District. It is all kind of a blur. I was completely overwhelmed.

I do remember that they took my daughter into a separate room, where she was observed and tested by part of the team. I stayed in a conference room, with the remainder of the team: answering questions and filling out assessments. The evaluation team members would rotate in and out, taking turns evaluating my daughter and questioning me. At no time did I observe their evaluation of her, directly. And, at no time did I understand that this evaluation would not result in any kind of diagnosis. Wow! Was I about to be enlightened! This evaluation was strictly to determine education services.

I don’t remember if the results of the team evaluation were immediate, or if I had to wait a period of time to get them, but they were confusing, because it was upon receipt of the results that I learned that my daughter and I would have to go through yet another team evaluation. This time, at the Doernbecher Child Development and Rehabilitation Center (CDRC), at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Oregon. Confusing, because I thought my daughter was going to receive a diagnosis (or not) out of the first evaluation. I was so naive. I was 28 years old. Looking back... I was SO young, and SO scared! All I knew was that, without a diagnosis of some kind, I would not have the means to get my daughter the help that she needed to be successful in her life. I knew that there were tools out there. I had no idea what they were... but, there was a positive. The team at the ESD identified my daughter as “Developmentally Delayed,” which qualified her for Early Childhood Special Education services... at no cost to me! They recommended the evaluation at CDRC, because, as a team, they could not provide a medical diagnosis, but believed that my daughter met enough of the DSM-IV criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders, that it warranted further evaluation. In the meantime, my daughter would be enrolled in Early Childhood Special Education preschool, half-days, three days per week.

The good news was that Early Childhood Special Education was part of the public school system, so it did not cost me a penny. Remember the “single mother, no child support” part? I was SO broke. There was no way that I could have afforded private services. That being said, I worked about a twenty minute commute, from the town I lived in... the same town that my daughter would attend preschool in... the same town where I knew absolutely no one but my daughter’s day care provider. I had to figure out how to get my daughter back-and-forth from home, to preschool, to daycare, and back home, during the course of my work day, and I had zero support system. It was stressful. It was grueling. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I was not alone in my situation, meaning that I know I wasn’t the only one in the world that was faced with the logistics of getting a child around, under challenging circumstances... but, I was alone in my situation... it was all on me.

Enter “Shitty Teacher.”

If you are an educator and you do not truly understand what Autism looks like in children... don’t pretend that you do. You’re not helping anyone! I cannot tell you the number of teachers I encountered, throughout my daughter’s education, that really, really wanted me to believe (and, clearly, believed themselves) that they could communicate, effectively, with my daughter, even though they really had no clue. There is something admirable about being humble enough to admit that you don’t know something. Trust me... I have an immense amount of respect for teachers. I am friends with many and, now, married to one. I have no problem with a teacher behaving as though they are an expert, if they really are; however, I have a. BIG problem with any teacher that acts as though they are an expert, when they cannot even tell if a child is truly engaged. I just described the Shitty Teacher. I don’t even remember her name. Trust me... your remember the names of the good ones. So, I will refer to her, unapologetically, as ”Shitty Teacher,” because it was Shitty Teacher that kept my daughter from an accurate medical diagnosis, that would have made both my and my daughter’s lives exponentially different... exponentially easier. Yes... I am still angry with her, because her actions continue to negatively effect my daughter’s ability to get services... to. this. day.

School is routine. It just is. School is an amazing, wonderful, perfect place for children on the Autism Spectrum, for that reason... it is routine. Socially, school sucks, but save that for another day. So, back to it... School is routine. School is an amazing, wonderful, perfect place for children on the Autism Spectrum, for that reason... it is routine. That being said... the “routine” of school means a child’s teacher, for the most part, only sees the child they are observing in a “routine” setting, Remember that.

I am going to tell you some stories about my daughter’s time in Early Childhood Special Education, as well as home life, leading up to the evaluation at CDRC. They will speak for themselves, but they describe things that, if you refer back to my previous post, or know anything at all about the characteristics of Autism... these... are those.

My daughter began Early Childhood Special Education in late 1999. She was three years old. It is relevant to note that her evaluation at CDRC did not occur until the Fall of 2000, shortly after her fourth birthday. So, by that time, all of the stories that you are about to read had already occurred. And... Shitty Teacher was privy to every single one of them, and had observed even more. Although, you would never know it, by her actions. It is important for me to note here that the intent of these stories is not to complain about Shitty Teacher. It is important that you pay attention to the Autism characteristics that my daughter was displaying. If you do, it will become obvious, in the end, as to why Shitty Teacher’s responses are relevant.

We called Early Childhood Special Education “preschool.” Ultimately, that is what it was... but, with an emphasis (as it related to developmental delay, for my daughter) on activities and learning that would help bring a child closer to age appropriate behaviors. Areas of focus that were identified for my daughter included responding to her own name, without prompting; accurately identifying emotions through the observation of facial expressions in others; age appropriate interactive play; initiating communication and play with peers; and more.

My daughter would not respond to her own name being called, unless she was prompted to do so, by touch. It was frustrating. Friends and family, that didn’t see her very often, would write it off as a child ignoring their parent, but there was enough concern about her lack of response to verbal prompts, in the medical community, that she had multiple hearing tests, as doctors thought she may have had loss of hearing, due to prematurity. She had not. Her hearing was perfect. Shitty Teacher was aware of this. Yet, when I would arrive to pick my daughter up from preschool, Shitty Teacher would call her name, without a physical prompt, and then proceed to scold my daughter for “ignoring“ her. It baffled me. She was aware that my daughter did not respond, when called upon. She was, supposedly, aware that this was a characteristic of Autism. She was aware that the ESD evaluation team believed my daughter may be on the Autism Spectrum. I could not, for the life of me, understand why she appeared to disregard the characteristic, when she was supposed to be using prompting tools to help my daughter learn to respond to her own name. Red Flag #1...

For my daughter, the tone of my voice meant everything. My facial expressions meant nothing... and I do mean nothing. I could smile or scowl... it didn’t matter. I got the same response. But, an angry tone of voice? Oh man! That would snap her head around. She hated being in trouble. I felt bad for doing it, but sometimes I would use an angry tone of voice to get her attention, from across the room, because it was the only way to get her to look at me, and listen to me, without having to walk across the room and touch her. It sounds awful, but I remember how exhausting the extra steps involved to accommodate her disability could be. And, it felt like absolutely everything took extra steps and energy.

Along with not responding to her name and being unable to identify the expressions on my face, my daughter could not verbally identify her own feelings. She would cry, but couldn’t tell you why she was crying. If I asked her what was wrong, she would just stand there and look at me. I remember picking her up from preschool one day, when they had been working on identifying facial expressions. She came home with a worksheet, so that we could practice at home... and, we did... a lot.

About two weeks later, my daughter was in her bedroom and I heard her crying. I went to her room, to check on her and see what was wrong. I found her standing in the middle of a bunch of toys, tears streaming down her face, as she was wiped them off with fury, over and over again. She hated the feeling of tears. She thought it were blood coming out of her eyes. To this day, she won’t let tears flow. She wipes and wipes, until her eyes are red and raw, just to keep tears from falling. I asked her what was wrong, and for the first time in her little life, she said, “I’m sad.” I cannot begin to express the excitement that I felt. My little girl knew she was sad! She just told me she was sad!!! I asked her why she was sad, and the air went out of the room as she replied, “Because, I have tears.” I knew, in that moment, that she was not sad. I realized, in that moment, that she had no idea what the word “sad” even meant. I felt defeated. We had been working so hard on identifying emotions, and I had been so excited at the prospect of having crossed a bridge, in her ability to express her own feelings. So, I asked more questions, until I figured out that the real reason she was crying was because she had hurt herself. She had pinched one of her fingers, in a toy. I “kissed it better,” or whatever it took... she went back to playing... I went in my bedroom, closed the door, and cried.

The next day, I told Shitty Teacher what had happened. Her response was that my daughter was doing great, because she could identify most of the emotions of the faces on the worksheet. I wanted to scream. Had she never heard of rote memory? She, certainly, should have. Rote learning is a very common teaching technique. For those of you reading, who may not know... rote memory entails memory for material without much reference to the meaning, or to the context to which it is associated. In children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, rote memory is a big deal, because it is difficult to the point of nearly impossible, for them to understand concepts, but their rote memory ”banks” are, typically, HUGE! Red Flag #2

If I asked my daughter a ”yes” or “no” question, she would answer yes about 95 percent of the time. Why? Because, “yes” answers tend to get a positive response.. I learned, over time, that if I asked my daughter a question, to which her reply was “No”... she meant “No”; however, if I asked her a question, to which her reply was “Yes,” I had better ask another, open-ended question, that required more of a response, because the odds were good that she never understood the original question I had asked her, in the first place. It took a long time for me to understand how to recognize whether she understood the original question or not. I was able to discern that when I asked the “follow up” question... if she had understood the first, she would be able to answer the second, with greater detail; however, if she had not understood the first question, she would not reply to the second. She would just stand there and stare at me.

I learned, later, that her standing and starting at me was really her trying to process the questions that did not make sense. It just took a long time, and I had not yet learned the patience I needed, to allow her to process at her own speed. Trust me... it took a really long time. We are not, as a society, programmed to stand silently and wait for answers. We tend to ask the same question again, as though the person did not hear us the first time. When you repeat a question, to a child on the Autism Spectrum, that you have already asked once, all you are doing is adding to the information they are trying to process. Now, instead of one question to work through... they have two. Still impatient? Ask them a third time. All you are doing is adding stress and one more question. Now, they have three questions to process. As a society, we really just need to learn to shut up.

Shitty Teacher was well aware of the “yes” and “no” communication issue, with my daughter. I had told her about it, and given descriptive examples. I had asked my daughter questions, in front of Shitty Teacher, to demonstrate what it looked like. And, it was well documented in her initial ESD evaluation, that Shitty Teacher had been provided. Yet... I cannot tell you how many times I watched Shitty Teacher ask my daughter a “yes“ or “no” question, hear a “yes” reply, from my daughter, and then just move on. Why? I wish I knew. Is it because it just took too much time to ask a follow up, open-ended question?

Let me say, here, that there is danger in not asking a follow up question, and Shitty Teacher knew it. She had been told. At that time, in my daughter’s life, if you had stood her at the edge of a river and given her a direction that she was not to go in the river, because she would drown... then asked her the “yes” or “no” question, “Do you understand?”... and she replied, “Yes”... I guarantee to you that she would still walk into the river. There is one BIG reason. Drowning is a concept. Verbs are, typically, conceptual. The word “understand” is, in itself, abstract. Think about it. However, if you stood her at the edge of a river and told her not to get her shoes wet... she would stand there all day long, because she is a rule follower... always. I know, because I have done both scenarios and watched her respond in exactly these ways. I will share another story, in a future post, that demonstrates this very well, but relative to the “yes” or “no” questions... my daughter’s failure to understand a question, and inappropriately answer “Yes,” was typically because the original question was abstract, or contained concepts that she could not understand. Note, that I did not say “...did not understand.” I said, “...could not understand.” Red Flag #3

Another characteristic of Autism is sensory overstimulation, and the “meltdowns” that follow. ”Meltdowns” are often characterized as aggressive acting out. “Meltdowns” in girls can definitely look that way; however, girls are more likely to do the opposite and introvert. If you’re not paying attention... you may miss it. Shitty Teacher missed it... all. the. time.

Often, when I would arrive at the preschool to pick my daughter up, she would be standing by herself, staring into space. I would gather her up, get her things, and leave, but I would always call to Shitty Teacher’s attention the fact that my daughter was self-isolating and/or “spacing off,“ and that I was concerned that she was overstimulated, as this was a typical response for her. Shitty Teacher blew me off... every. single. time. Her response was always oblivious and arrogant, “Oh! She’s done great today. She’s been having so much fun!” I just wanted to scream, “OH MY GOD! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! JUST BECAUSE SHE APPEARS TO BE ‘HAVING FUN’ DOESN’T MEAN SHE IS NOT OVERSTIMULATED!!!!!!!!!!!”

Because, you see... I was the one that got to deal with the fallout. By the time I got off of work and picked her up from daycare, she was so far gone, from all of the activity and no tools to help her decompress, that she would completely melt down. When the events that threw her off were significant enough, she would regress to the point of it taking weeks for her to get back to the milestones that she had previously achieved. It happened over and over again. Shitty Teacher was aware, but Shitty Teacher was arrogant, and really really wanted to believe that I was making everything up... that my daughter displayed no characteristics of Autism, only developmental delay... that the behaviors my daughter displayed, in a routine environment, were how she behaved all of the time... it wasn’t true, but I promise you... Shitty Teacher made me question everything about my own parenting, my own observational skills, and my ability to comprehend all of my research. Red Flag #4

Christmas came early on, in our Early Childhood Special Education experience. My daughter liked pretty things, decorations, etc, but she had no desire to help me do any decorating. She really didn’t have a desire to interact with people much, at all. She was happy in her own little world. So... I thought I would save myself the extra work of having to pay attention to what she was doing, while I put up the Christmas tree, by myself, and put her to bed first. She slept soundly, and I opened a beer and took my time decorating, which included moving the couch, and rearranging the furniture, in order to fit the tree in. Never again! I learned my lesson the hard way, when she woke up the next morning, came into the living room, and absolutely freaked out... “Mommy!! What’d you do?! Mommy!! What’d you do?!” she yelled over and over and OVER again. And, with that one attempt at creating something celebratory and beautiful in our home, I watched my daughter slip into a regression that took until mid-February to recover from. Sadly... that has never changed. Holidays are really hard, even though they are fun. Even good stress is stress. To this day, my daughter struggles with the holiday season, but now we expect it and plan ahead.

When we returned to preschool, from Christmas vacation, I told Shitty Teacher about what had transpired over the break. I explained the regression that I had observed. I told her I was concerned about the next break, and wanted to know if she had any suggestions for how I might be able to help it not be so hard on my daughter. Again... Shitty Teacher blew me off. Red Flag #5

Somewhere, in the midst of all of this, the courts ordered a visit between my daughter and her biological father, where I was to be present. I sent him a plethora of information about Autism Spectrum Disorders. I informed him of the evaluations and I warned him about asking questions, and how to do it in a way that would not stress her. He ignored all of it. We sat in a booth, at a restaurant, and she colored as he rapid fired questions at her. She would not even look up. When the visit was over, I stopped at the grocery store, on the way home. I put my daughter in the large part of the shopping basket. Throughout the store, when I would turn back around from taking something off of a shelf, I would find my daughter aggressively biting her fingers, or banging her head off of the side of the shopping cart. I was horrified. I had never seen behavior like that from her. When we got home, I put her down for a nap. From the kitchen, I heard a loud banging noise, like someone was hammering a nail in the wall, in the apartment next door. I went toward the direction of the sound, and found that it was actually coming from my daughter’s bedroom. I opened the door to find her sitting on her bed, banging her head against the wall. She was not crying. It was like she was in a trance. I tried to hold her in my arms, but holding her was not her idea, and she was having none of it. I told her she needed to rest, not to hit her head on the wall, and put her back to bed. She never did it again. I went in my bedroom, shut the door... and cried. She couldn’t tell me what was wrong, although I thought I knew... and I felt helpless. The following Monday, when I took her to preschool, I told Shitty Teacher what had happened. I wanted her to keep an eye out for any unusual behavior. For the first time... Shitty Teacher acted like she might actually get it.

All things animals! If there were animal toys around, my daughter was lining them up by color... then rearranging them and lining them up by size... then rearranging them and lining them up by type... and so on. That is how she played. No imaginary play. No attempts at interaction. So, one day, I decided I would try to push her “out of her comfort zone.” I got a “Mama” horse and a “Baby” horse, and we sat down on the living room floor to play make believe. I held on to the “Mama” horse, and gave my daughter the “Baby” horse. Then I pretended that I was the horse talking and said, “Hi! My name’s Mama horse! What’s your name?” She mimicked the way I was holding the horse, with her “Baby” horse and said, “My name’s Mama horse!” It caught me off guard. I’m not sure what I expected, but that wasn’t it. By this time, my daughter was over 3 1/2 years old, and she knew the difference between a “Mama” horse, and a “Baby” horse. If you asked her to point them out, she could do it correctly. So... I tried again. “Hi! My name’s Mama horse! What’s your name?” She replied, “My name’s Mama horse!” So, I said, “No... your name is Baby horse.” To which she said, “Yeah! I’m Baby horse!” I told her “good job,” and tried again.... “Hi! My name’s Mama horse! What’s your name?” She, again, replied... “My name’s Mama horse!” This went on, until I finally just told her to say, “My name’s Baby horse,” but that was the only way she would say it.

I told Shitty Teacher about this interaction, the next time she went to school. Shitty Teacher... the teacher that was supposed to be focusing on age appropriate Interactive play... was uninterested. Red Flag #6

My daughter made a lot of progress, in a lot of areas, during her partial year in Early Childhood Special Education. Not everything was bad. I had learned some tools to help me communicate with her better, and since there hadn’t been a long school break in a few months, she had kept on track and regression had not been an issue. That being said... I was concerned about the upcoming summer break. Shitty Teacher had sent home some material about ”continued learning” opportunities, throughout the summer, but it was something that you had to apply for. It wasn’t an automatic, even for kids that had shown regression, during the regular school year. I filled out the paperwork, and turned it in, documenting the periods of regression that we had already experienced that year. My submission was met with an eye roll and some comment about how my daughter would be “just fine.” I plead for Shitty Teacher’s consideration, anyway, and reminded her of issues we had experienced, to that date. To no avail... Red Flag #7

The last day of preschool was supposed to be a big treat. They took the kids on a field trip to a “Chuck-E-Cheese” type pizza place, with games and a ball pit, etc. My daughter was very excited. It was one of her favorite places. I dropped her off, that morning, with her little backpack and a light jacket. When I returned to pick her up, on my lunch hour, and walked into the classroom, it was chaos. Kids were running around, yelling... parents had filled the room and were having loud conversations, trying to hear themselves over the children... and my daughter was nowhere to be found. I looked around for her and then, finally, interrupted Shitty Teacher’s conversation with another parent and asked where my daughter was. She acted surprised and said, “Oh! I don’t know. I told all of the kids to get their things together,” and she started to look around, from where she was standing.” When I finally spotted my daughter, through the crowded room, she was standing with her backpack and jacket, in front of the coats and cubbies, just staring at them. And, by “staring,” I mean glazed over eyes, spaced out, “not-present” staring. That poor girl was so overstimulated and overwhelmed that she not only did not respond to her name, she did not respond to my touch. I stood and watched her for a minute or two... it felt like an eternity. Then I scooped her up and went to find Shitty Teacher. I told Shitty Teacher where I had found her and asked if anything bad had happened on their field trip. Shitty Teacher looked at my daughter and said, “Oh! We had so much fun, didn’t we?!” Then she turned around and started talking to another parent about getting together for coffee or something. I interrupted again and asked if there had been a decision on continuing education, for my daughter, through the summer. She said, “Oh, she didn’t qualify, but we’ll see you next fall. You could get private help, if you want” Red Flag #8

I was so angry. I felt dismissed. I was broke, and I was broken. I couldn’t “get private help.” I had looked. There were no resources out there that I could afford. This was my resource, and this shitty teacher was not helping.

I had a friend that was the Department Head of Special Education at a high school, at the time. I don’t remember exactly when I called her, but I reached a point, after my daughter being denied continuing education, through the summer, that I was desperate for help. I told her what I was experiencing, and how I didn’t know what to do. Her advice to me... “Be that bitch mother that I hate to see coming. Don’t let up. You’ll win.” And, that, is exactly what I did... although, it would be my daughter’s Junior year of high-school, before I would finally, truly understand just what that meant, and how right she was.

I spent the summer dealing with my daughter’s sensory overstimulation issues like my not being able to run the vacuum, without warning her first, so she could go hide in the bedroom; having to warn her that I was about to turn on the hairdryer, so she could go hide in the bedroom; having to warn her that I was going to run her a bath, so she could go hide in the bedroom, until I had turned the water off; watching the 4th of July fireworks from inside the car, because they were too loud (she still doesn’t care for fireworks); having to take her home from the carnival, because the noise of the games were too loud and made her scream and cry; etc. And, trying to navigate changes in routine as small as taking a different route to the grocery store, and the rapid fire “Mommy! Where we going?! Mommy! Where we going?!” that came with the panic of the loss of a routine route. I learned that Social Stories could help some, to allow her to anticipate the change, and got really good at drawing comic strips of our lives, but it was work... a lot of work... and it was emotionally exhausting. Nothing took just one step...

The CDRC evaluation came the following fall, not long after school had resumed. It would be my daughter’s second year in Early Childhood Special Education. We got zero help, over the summer. I made too much money to get assistance, but not enough money to hire help... and back then, insurance didn’t cover behavioral health, related to Autism Spectrum Disorders. Although, my daughter was seen by her pediatrician, multiple times, as he was the one that had to officially refer her for the CDRC evaluation. By the way, her pediatrician was certain my daughter had Asperger’s Syndrome.

Shitty Teacher was playing nice, in the beginning of the 2000-2001 school year, and I had high hopes that things would go better this year, than the last. I was excited, although nervous, for the CDRC evaluation, and was confident we would get a medical diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum, which would qualify us for additional services. And, maybe then, Shitty Teacher would pay attention. So, when Shitty Teacher volunteered to travel the nearly three hour drive to Oregon Health Sciences University, in Portland, so that I wouldn’t have to go to the evaluation alone... I was hopeful, and accepted.

We drove to OHSU and talked the entire way about all of the Autism characteristics that my daughter displayed. Shitty Teacher acted like my best friend, and communicated that she absolutely supported a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. She asked if it was okay if she sat in on the evaluation. I finally felt the support that I so desperately needed and told her that she could.

The evaluation was long... really long. They did another hearing assessment, which again came back normal. Then they split the six-person team into two groups. The Speech/Language Pathologist, and the Occupational Therapist took my daughter into one room for assessment, while the Social Worker, Psychiatrist, and Education Specialist took me into another, for interviews and to complete written assessments. It was grueling. Shitty Teacher had asked if she could sit in with the part of the evaluation team that was working with my daughter. I saw no reason for her not to. If I had only known...

When the evaluations were complete, the team converged in a conference room, to compare notes and come to a determination, regarding diagnosis. Shitty Teacher informed me that she had been invited to sit in on the meeting. I asked if I could, as well, and was told that I was not welcome in the meeting. So I sat, for nearly two hours, with my daughter, in the play room, where they had done her evaluation.

Eventually, the group emerged from the conference room. Shitty Teacher was chumming it up with some of the evaluators. The Psychiatrist asked them to stay with my daughter, and called me in, to report out on their findings. He told me that I would receive a written report, later, in the mail... but, he wanted to be able to explain their findings in person.

He told me that he, and two others on the team, felt strongly that my daughter should be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. He said the team as a whole, however, could not agree on a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, as the other two team members were split between a diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and Developmental Delay. ”So...” he said.. “We asked your daughter’s teacher to give us her feedback, from her observations of your daughter, over the previous school year, and to date this year.”

And, this is where Shitty Teacher earned her name. She told the group that she had never observed anything but developmental delay, in my daughter, even after having told me she supported a diagnosis. She told them that she had never observed characteristics of Autism in my child.

So, what happened? The Psychiatrist told me that, because the team could not agree on a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, and the teacher had extensive time with my child and had not observed Autistic characteristics... some team members were not supportive of a diagnosis, at all; however, he was not willing to let me walk out of that evaluation without a diagnosis that, at least, existed on the Autism spectrum. And, because of his determination, he was able to get the team to agree to a diagnosis of PDD-NOS. In that moment, it felt like a minor victory... but it wasn’t. Once a child leaves Early Childhood Special Education, to move into Kingergarten... a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum that is not “Autism” means that the child will no longer be eligible for special education services, because (at least at that time) a diagnosis of “Developmental Delay” did not qualify a child for services in grades K-12. I was screwed.... or so I thought.

Next time... A brilliant Autism Specialist, an amazing Kindergarten Teacher, and some funny experiences that taught me how to effectively communicate with my daughter.

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