Bad news about good news

We might live in the wrong area for Tristan to have access to good services once he’s 3.  However, that’s mostly a good thing; what we’re being told is that the district we live in does not have adequate services for high-functioning children with autism.

It’s kind of difficult to tell what to expect when your tiny (relatively) little toddler is diagnosed with autism.  First of all, professionals and friends all disagree on what they think autism is.  Second of all, the criteria for diagnosis have broadened.  Third of all, the age at which the telltale signs of autism are observable has gotten significantly earlier.  Fourth of all, the M-CHAT screening questionnaire is being administered at 18 month well visits and leading to detection of autism in children who did not otherwise seem at risk.  Fifth of all, we don’t have any other children and we didn’t know many other children early in Tristan’s life.

In other words, there is not a shitload of precedent for where we are.  And so a proclamation that our very intelligent and affectionate (and VERBAL) child with autism is “doin’ real well” is not something we were able to take for granted.  We suspected that he was “doin’ just fine” and able to handle most of life without special supports not given to typical kids.  But we don’t really know.  We have to take the word of professionals working with Tristan who perform assessments and scrutinize the data to tell us just where he is on that yardstick of handicap level.

So, when we bought our home, we used the school district as a heavy criterion.  We’re terribly classist (though I’d call it “gangist”); we know that property crime is lower in regions where school districts are rated higher.  We found that our current school district is one of the better ones.  But we may need to reevaluate our choice of location, depending on what we find out in the next few months.  I’m sure it will be no hurry, but it will be quite a quest if we decide to go down that road.

The good news has been very good, though.  His mind is definitely present.  He is definitely curious, aware, and really freaking smart.

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