Gordon and I took Duncan along for a one-off speech and occupational therapy assessment session yesterday.
I'd been asked by the clinical psychologist I saw with him last March if I wanted this assessment. Again, I thought there would be little to gain by going, but I wanted to be able to write on his DLA application that we were waiting for the assessment. You need to have input from the professionals to get the benefits, and the money would all go into savings for him to use when he's older. (Although, we still haven't had a decision on the claim we made in June due to some cock-up in the benefit's office.)
So, the others were again sent off with a grandparent (Gordon's mum this time) and we set off. I'd drawn a little cartoon book for Duncan, showing that we were going to the 'nice hospital' (where you can play with all the toys) as opposed to the 'nasty hospital' (where they pull your teeth out ;-0).
The occupational therapist (OT) had set up a marble run and Duncan sat down and started playing with her right away while we talked to the speech therapist (ST). I had nothing but positives to report. They had a copy of his file from the OT and ST at his old school, and it's clear that he is much more capable than he was described on those old reports. I explained my methods of working and playing with him, using his interests (that'd be trains to anyone not in the know!) as a way of making all sorts of connections and discoveries. I told about his ability to type the train names on Google to find pictures, and how he'll get a book to copy the names he doesn't yet know how to spell. I told how he knows that even when he's looking for pictures of 'James', he needs to type 'James Thomas Tank' to narrow the search criteria. He did a few picture puzzles, and named the objects. he picked up all the marbles and puzzle pieces when requested to and packed them away. He drew pictures of me and his dad, giving Gordon a nice head of curly hair! He was focused and happy. They had him do a game in which he lay on a skateboard on his tummy, went down a small ramp, them got off the board, picked up a picture of some clothing (i.e. 'red hat') from a selection spread out and put it on a picture of a boy. I couldn't see the point of the exercise, and neither could Duncan. He enjoyed rolling down the ramp though, letting Brio Percy freewheel in front of him! He did the picture things though, so he could go back for another go down the slope.
In all, it was clear to them that he was thriving, they couldn't really think of anything else to recommend. Gordon was impressed with me. He saw that this is what I do. There is a point to all this reading about autism. It helps me know better how Duncan is thinking, what his motivations are, what the potential pitfalls are and gives me ideas and strategies to adopt.
We still have problems to tackle, it's far from being all rosy round here. There are the tantrums, the shouting and crying when he wants something that I can't or won't give him. But I can re-direct him much more often now. It's tiring some times; when he's at his most challenging and the very noise he's making is grinding me down, then I have to be at my most imaginative and (when appropriate) playful.
The Voyage is ongoing, but now we have much better charts, and the crew are gaining more experience as time passes too.