Something arrived in the post today that we've been waiting a long time for. The envelope was addressed to me and my partner, so I opened it.
Inside was a covering letter and, behind that, a report addressed to our younger son. The results of the series of assessments he has been attending recently in a simplified form, phrased so as to alleviate some of his fears (bearing in mind that his older brother was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) at the age of three and has some very real difficulties with speech, social skills, frustration & anger and sensory needs).
As it was addressed to him (and I already knew more or less what it said) I put it back in the envelope and quietly fretted while pacing up and down in the school playground, waiting for him to come out so that I could tell him it had arrived and see how he felt about reading it.
As we walked home together, I told him that a letter had arrived from the people who were assessing his strengths and difficulties. He looked a bit anxious at this, so I asked him if he wanted to read it on his own, or did he want me to read it with him. He said he didn't want to read it until Saturday "when we can have some alone time."
I told him he didn't have to read it today, but that I could tell he'd been extra anxious ever since starting the assessments and that maybe knowing what they found out would make him feel better. Also, we would have enough alone time before his brother got back to read it and talk about it, or not, whatever felt right for him. He thought about this all the way home.
When we got to the door, he said "OK. I don't really want to read it, so will you read it to me? I'm not much good at reading letters. And you might need a hug after."
It was a lovely report: Pitched perfectly for him to understand exactly what his diagnosis means (and doesn't mean), reassuring him that he is not affected in the same way (or to the same extent) as his brother and spending most ink in telling him about his strengths, while not glossing over his difficulties. His favourite bit (apart from the list of things he is good at) was this sentence:
"We predict that as you get older, and with the right help and support at times when you need it, you will be much less affected by these difficulties in the future"
He wriggled and hid his face the whole time I was reading it, but afterwards he said " So I was right. I DO have autism. They said lots of nice things about me. I'm blushing. When can we see them again so I can tell them all about me like before, only this time they can help me with my focus and concentration."
My boy is back!
I'm glad we did this today. I'm not entirely certain whether I pushed it more for his sake or mine, but he does seem to be much happier now that he knows he has "a high functioning autism spectrum disorder" And we will arrange to see Darren, Reeta and Josselyn again some time in the New Year.
My kids are amazing. No more or less amazing than anyone else's, but they sometimes frighten me with just how special they are, and how much of my heart belongs to them.