• Understanding Autism from the Inside

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So My Kid Grew Out of Autism? Part I – Evaluation

tot-on-tableI had this post written out (finally) all in one blog post, but then realized it was real long and cumbersome so I have now broken it up into three smaller chunks.

The Trip to USMC

On Friday Hubby and I took the Tot to the University Medical Center of South Carolina (UMSC), after a 9 month wait for an appointment to have his tentative autism diagnosis confirmed. The road trip was about 3 hours in each direction, with a five hour evaluation appointment sandwiched in the middle.

First, there were no directions, no suite number, no floor number, or building numbers and names on the letter confirming our appointment. We arrived on time but were lost running all around the mulberry bush in a large medical complex (and of course my place-blind self could not find my way down the same corridor twice) for almost an hour. No-one knew where we were trying to go, or how to direct us to get there—it was ridiculous.

When we finally arrived I was frazzled to say the least, and the receptionist had me sit and wait while she tried to find a number to call the doctor’s office to see if they would still take us because we were late. I had been calling the contact number on my confirmation letter for over an hour by that time and it was not a working number!


Luckily for them (and I am sure me too because I had already threatened to strap myself to a chair and not leave until someone saw me) we were taken back to our appointment. I wish I could tell you that I remember the names of the doctors that we saw, one (the one doing most of the testing) was a Ph.D. and we only briefly saw the Developmental Pediatrician.

They asked many questions, to which I could not answer well, I was not articulate at all because I was already tired, frazzled, and over whelmed by the trip. The Tot was on his best behavior; he loved it there. There were toys and all kinds of fun things to play with to keep his interest and keep him engaged.

He was so good that I wondered if I would find a pod hidden under my bed at home because I was sure that someone switched my kid. The psychologist was great with him. She kept him continuously engaged moving from activity to activity. There were some things that I giggled at like when she tried to make him pretend a toy block was a frog and make it go hop hop hop like the toy frog did…he got so angry he threw it, and then she tried to make him pretend that same block was a car and he got even more angry tossing the block again. There was no way that block was going to be a frog, or a car, or anything other than a block!

He had a similar reaction when she wanted him to pretend to make a birthday cake with playdoh and feed the doll. He wouldn’t do it, he wouldn’t feed the doll playdoh, and he would not pretend to eat the playdoh himself or pretend to drink non-existent liquid from a cup. I laughed again, thinking, VERY SMART!

Unfortunately, he absolutely loved playing with this woman, and she was very engaging. He did not do many of the things that he characteristically does on a daily basis at home. He had very little hand flapping going on, and this is unusual since his emerging nickname for happy kid is now “Flap Jack”. He gets so excited and just stands there and jumps jumps jumps and flaps flaps flaps and it can go on for hours—not during this appointment.

He didn’t lick things, like all the toys or MY TOES, or try to eat my flip flops during the appointment; he didn’t spin, or run in endless circles (like he does at home when set free), or run on tip toes probably because he was seated with toys for hours on end. Instead, he laughed, giggled, smiled, and played with her.


Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.