We have struggled for years to figure out our Teddy Bear. His communication difficulties have been at the center of most of his challenges, but it’s always been obvious that his brain just works differently than most kids. As a child development specialist, I immediately considered Autism when he first started showing delays, but it just never really fit. His pediatricians and IEP team agree with us, he displays a lot of hallmarks of Autism, but they don’t think that’s actually what’s going on. We’ve discussed ADHD and dyslexia, but those don’t really fit, either. We’re a year into a three-year wait list for Neuropsych at UW-Madison and just figured we’d do what we could with his IEP diagnosis of “educational autism”. He’s showing improvement in all areas and he’s still the happiest kid on earth, but I still just want to know what’s going on in my little boy’s head. But then, 2 days ago, I discovered 3 words that put the world into focus: Gestalt Language Processing. I remember learning about Gestalt in college, but language development was always my least favorite subject so I didn’t remember anything about this at all. This time, though, when I saw those three words linked in the article I was reading about speech therapy and autism, I paid attention. I did a deep dive and found stories and descriptions and research that sounded like it was a biography of the last 8 years in the Carr home. Now, I am not even pretending I just diagnosed my son when specialists and experts have admitted that they are baffled by him. I own my extreme lack of understanding and interest in language development (ironic that the one area of dev that I disliked the most would come back to dominate my own personal experience!). But this one fits. It fits better than anything I’ve ever seen. And it’s really not surprising that this could have been missed. We’ve moved a few times, Teddy really didn’t talk much at all before he had his tonsils removed at 4, plus the whole worldwide pandemic thing. No one else has been able to see his progression from straight echolalia to forming independent words, phrases, and sentences; although the echolalia is still there, he now mixes it in to form independent thoughts so that it’s hard to tell him apart from kids who just happen to have full movies memorized. So now I have a name that could explain so much and I am ecstatic! Even if this is the correct diagnosis, it won’t suddenly make things easier for Teddy, we will still have challenges and it’ll still be a long road. But even having a glimpse into what makes this kid tick (beyond animal trivia and dinosaur battles) is so much more than we had before!

Posted by Meghan at 2022-09-15 23:07:22 UTC