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Look Me in the Eye

Most of the time I can tune out the rest of the world, merrily skipping along with my son while ignoring what others may think of us. But now and again I’m faced with reality checks - often in the form of random unpleasant interactions with strangers or peers - but sometimes they come at regularly scheduled intervals. Such has been the case twice in the last month. First I met with teachers and staff at my son’s school for his annual Individualized Education Program plan review. This was fine. Pleasant, even. The people who work most closely with him focus on his strengths, and how to leverage those strengths to help overcome any weaknesses he may have, be they academic or social. The second meeting, which occurred yesterday, was a different animal. Every three years he must be re-evaluated to ensure he still meets certain requirements, in order to continue receiving Free Appropriate Public Education as outlined in his IEP. For this evaluation a few outside experts were brought in to observe my son. These experts came away with the impression that he’s just another hand-flapping movie dialogue reciting autistic robot, rather than the amazing and engaging human I know and love. It was really difficult to hear/read their report, chock full of low test scores and unpleasant observations. Definitely not a banner day for our dynamic duo. The good news? He will continue receiving special education assistance for the next three years, until I’m faced with his next clinical, detached evaluation report. At which point his autism diagnosis will, most likely, be verified again. Though three years from now there may be a slight twist to it. Recently the NY Times ran this article about the austism spectrum: A Powerful Identity, a Vanishing Diagnosis

If these experts have their way, Asperger’s syndrome and another mild form of autism, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (P.D.D.-N.O.S. for short), will be folded into a single broad diagnosis, autism spectrum disorder — a category that encompasses autism’s entire range, or spectrum, from high-functioning to profoundly disabling.

My son’s current PDD-NOS diagnosis may be simplified to autism spectrum disorder. Whatever happens with the terminology, he is so much more than his diagnosis. I won’t allow him to be limited by it. But I am willing to work within the system, and beyond it, to get him whatever help he needs to continue leading a healthy, happy life.

cute merch at pinkberry

Bonus: Kick-Ass, the movie, looks totally kick ass. Curious about the comic book too.
Plus: There will be oh so many live music events happening in Minneapolis this month. Next week it’s Dinosaur Jr, Fuck Buttons with Growing, Nomo and another Gastro Non Grata event. And after Thanksgiving, The King Khan & BBQ Show. If they aren’t in jail and all.
And: Webcomic artist Kate Beaton has been on a roll lately. Particularly with surly Wonder Woman and the Kiss cobbler elves.

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