Our disclosure meeting is scheduled for the end of this week. Our families have been going a little nutty, talking about cribs and toys and becoming aunties. I guess everyone gets extra excited about a baby.
We haven't told them that the child's case worker called us at the end of last week and told us that Early Intervention has been looking at Baby Boy as possibly having autism. This is the same worker who went on about how on target Baby Boy is and how she would take him home if she could. She said she just found out when she received a recent report. However, she says he's improving. He was identified as having low muscle tone (which has gone to the normal range with PT), self-stimulating behavior (didn't specify what-flapping, head banging, rocking, tensing, staring at lights?-but did say it has almost completely gone away), and delayed language skills (at a six month level so three to four months behind; however also improving with EI speech support). Either she had no clue what those possibly added up to or she doesn't know him as well as she seemed to.
One of my best friends has a child with autism who was diagnosed at 15 months. I remember her telling me when he was 10 months old that she had a feeling something wasn't right. I called her right away. She said the above are all signs of autism, but that most kids have some autistic tendencies at some point. Both her children had low muscle tone and both her children self-stimmed (one by tensing, staring at shiny objects; the other by staring at ceiling fans) but only one has autism. She said if the self-stimming is truly almost completely gone, that's a good thing. Kids with autism always have some kind of stim. If one goes away, another replaces it. Her son has gone through about 15 different ones. She also wasn't that phased by the language delay because supposedly his language is improving quickly with EI speech therapy. She said it took her son a year of much more intensive hospital-based speech therapy to just be able to get the concept of yes and no. She has offered to read the EI reports for me when we get them and suggest some specific questions to ask the therapists and the foster mother.
The child's worker said she will give us the name of a specialist at a prominent children's hospital in our area so we can consult with him as well. And of course, she reiterated that there are no guarantees. She said if we had a biological child, he could be facing the same profile.
The last part was more than a little annoying. Adoption is different than having a biological child. If your biological child has autism, you have no choice--you deal with it. Choosing to adopt a child that is being looked at as having autism is not the same. We would be taking a risk with enormous consequences. We would possibly be choosing to go down a road that is extraordinarily difficult. I love my friend's son, but I've seen the struggles he has been through just to be able to communicate on a basic level. I've seen how autism has affected my friend's marriage. I've seen how her view of the world has changed. I've seen her exhausted, scratched and bruised, frustrated because she can't get through to her boy. She told me she loves her son, but there is no way she would be doing this if she had a choice.
The recent news has made us pull back a bit more from the situation. Along with our families, DH and I were starting to fantasize about having an infant around. We had pretty much decided we were going to take the placement and just deal with the legal risk piece. We were thinking about bedding and peeking at the baby clothes when we walked by them. We're feeling more cautious now. Again, we're not looking for a perfect child, but fetal alcohol syndrome and autism are two disabilities to which very few people would say bring it on. This may still be our child, but we're not as sure as before.