Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year, A New Reality

Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). This is the overall diagnosis we received for Morgan on Wednesday. Huh? What is this? Why does autism have to be so complicated? I'll see if I can explain how they came to this conclusion.

Morgan was evaluated using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), Module 1. I quote, "It is a standardized observation instrument used to assess social and communicative behaviors in children with autism. The ADOS, Module 1 includes activities such as free play with toys, response to name, response to joint attention, bubble play, anticipation of a routine with objects, responsiveness to a social smile, anticipation of a social routine, functional and symbolic imitation, participation in a birthday party and snack time."

The ADOS is scored in two sections, Communication and Reciprocal and Social Interaction. In the Communication section Morgan scored a 4... which put her in the "Autism range of 4-10" (the Autism Spectrum range was 2-3). In the Social Interaction section she scored a 4 as well... which put her in the Autism Spectrum range of 4-6 (Autism range was 7-14). So, overall the final score was an 8 which put her in the overall Autism Spectrum range of 7-11 (Autism range was 12-24). A "typical" child would score anywhere from 0-6.

So, if that made sense, Morgan is on the higher functioning end of the spectrum, which we feel very fortunate about. They said if she was older she would be diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, but not knowing where she will end up in her language development, for now it is PDD-NOS. Basically this means she does not have all the traits required to make her "classically" autistic, but she has enough of them to put her "on the spectrum."

Overall, if we have to have a child on the spectrum, we are grateful that she is where she is. The recommendations we have to move forward include the combination of "typical" and "developmental" preschool that we already have in place (Yay!). There is also a possibility of a special program through Eastern Washington University for the next school year. They did not recommend additional speech and language therapy, but we will revisit this if needed in six months. They also recommended what is called Relationship Development Instruction (RDI) therapy at home. They gave me a book to review that gives instructions on how to work one-on-one with your child to teach them basic body language and other non-verbal communication.

Finally they gave us a great list of contact information for local resources and support groups, such as the Inland NW Autism Center and the Spokane Chapter of the Autism Society of Washington. There are lots of learning opportunities for us through both of these groups.

Aside from the test scores they did tell us that we have some other things going for us as Morgan is both smart and strong-willed. Other autistic children can be more passive making motivation difficult. As much as her being strong-willed is challenging to us i.e. stubborness and tantrums, it can only work in our favor in the future.

So, this is our new reality with our Morgan. I think we feel as good as possible about knowing what we are dealing with now and look forward to learning better ways to communicate with our daughter and help her reach her full potential. Also, during our meeting with the psychologist and SLP (speech therapist), they were able to observe Piper and noted that she had good communication and social skills for her age. They did say the key time frame for some kids with the onset of autism is 18-22 months (though I think Morgan showed signs all along). I think we'll breathe easier in Piper's case once she reaches her developmental milestones at age two.

Have you hung in there? We are off to a NYE party with friends tonight. Looking forward to ringing in a whole new chapter in our lives!

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