Last year, I wrote about what I saw and I brought the information to the doctor like a good mommy. He said it was stress. It was too soon to tell. Maggie was young and undergoing two major life changes: moving to a new country and a pregnant mother. It was stress and only stress. I wanted to believe him–we all did–so I did. The doctor recommended a Montessori-style preschool for her, and I called that day.
I asked the teachers to keep an eye out, to see if they observed anything…different. “She’s very young. She needs time to adjust.” It was true, and she did, and we gave her that time, and still we were the Watsons to Sherlock.
As ever we saw, but we didn’t observe.
Maggie improved dramatically, and yet conversations with other children of the same age left me with an icy pit in my stomach. I could never talk this way with Maggie. I thought about the way she responded–or didn’t, or couldn’t–to questions. Her masterful coping with memorized scripts and her brilliant mimicry with contextually appropriate passages from books and movies. If you didn’t know better, if you weren’t the one sitting on the couch reading those books again and again to her, you would never know. I brought it up with her teachers and their faces fell. They started to watch more closely.
We heard from family. From friends. “Oh, she’s still very young.” “Who can tell? Kids are so weird under the best of circumstances.” “All she needs is love and time.” Then a dear, dear family friend–Maggie’s namesake, in fact–who works for a special organization sent us the information that started to form the outline of the puzzle. We read the fact sheets with dawning comprehension.
Finally, her teachers summoned us to a meeting on the last week of term. “We think Maggie should be observed at school by a therapist.”
A lot of words were tossed out. Echolalia. Socialization. Give-and-take in dialogue. Scripting. “We aren’t experts in what this is or might be or if it’s anything. We just know that we think an expert should weigh in.” said those kind, kind ladies who love Maggie so. “So we want your permission to have her observed.”
And finally, finally, we knew that someone else could see it too.
We gave our permission immediately and are waiting on a date for this fall. After hours of research and reading, Tom and I have a pretty good idea of what we *think* this is–not autism, no, that’s too broad, but something else; something a little more specific. I’ll wait until after her evaluation to say if we were right. We have resources, monetary and emotional. The things that are locked up in her brain are just at the surface, waiting for a skilled team to help us crack the code. Don’t feel sorry for her, or for us.
The only thing I can feel about any potential diagnosis is relief; relief that we are being heard and taken seriously by people who love Maggie. There’s nothing in my heart but gladness that we are going to find the tools to help our baby express her worldview–her beautiful, wonderful, unique Maggieview. There’s an entire world locked behind those liquid chocolate eyes waiting to be revealed to us.
I can’t wait to get her a locksmith.