February 3, 2014

A New Journey

The Kennedy Center

Back Story
In December, I chose to have Nikolai evaluated by early intervention programs. While he understood a lot, his speech was limited to his favorite (and only) word "ow". The first program was EDIS (military's early intervention program) who decided that he might have displayed some signs of autism, but he didn't meet their requirements. The only other program was TSEI  (Tennessee State Early Intervention) and I hoped he would receive services. They were very quick to get his information and schedule a time to come screen him, but once again he didn't qualify. Either a delay of 40% is needed in one area or 25% delay in two areas is needed. The fact that he didn't speak wasn't 40% because he understood directions and words too well. My mind still not put at ease, my pediatrician recommended that I get in touch with a woman who was in charge of The Tadpole Project, and an appointment was set up for Feb 3rd.

At 7:45am we all hit the road for the 45 minute trip to the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Nikolai was in for 3 hours of testing and Mark and I were hoping to finally get some answers. The first part of the process was observing Nikolai's developmental skills - could he copy what they did, did he know how to string a bead, how he played with a ball, and other milestones that are usually met by his peers. While he was doing that we went in another room to complete an interview. As the questions were being asked I found myself hesitant to answer, as if I was subconsciously battling between answering honestly and giving what I thought was the "correct" answers; what would make him "normal". After a short break we all sat in a room while Nikolai once again played, completing tasks that were being scored. As I sat back and watched my brain was in a haze. I couldn't fully complete a thought before the next one started. I watched helplessly as my son was partaking in a test I knew he would "fail". Once play time was done they left to score once again, and we waited for what felt like a lifetime. 

When the women entered the room again, one began talking. First about his developmental and motor skills, which were currently at a 17/18 month level. From the moment I processed that sentence my heart sank, I knew what was coming next. As she told me that his speech is on a 9 month level I felt my face get hot, and knew that tears I wouldn't be able to stop were streaming down. I only picked up every other word or so as she continued to talk. Nikolai. Qualifies. Autism. But in that moment that was all I needed to hear. They gave us a folder of information I couldn't bring myself to open, and explained that if we wanted to participate in the program they would arrange another day to bring him back and get him assigned to a group. I had went numb long before the end and I simply nodded, thanking them for their time. The 45 minute ride back home was one filled with nonstop tears. The rest of the night a blur, my body and brain automatically completing the rest of the daily routines. And before I know it my brain shuts down, refusing the think anymore. 


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