For the past 6 months or so, parenting Jasmine has been like living on Sesame Street. Everywhere I turn, I’m surrounded by letters. EI (Early Intervention), OT (occupational therapy), SLP (speech language pathologist), and so on. Next on the list will be ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), which I’m still learning to fully understand.
Friday, Jasmine got the letters I was expecting, and yet dreading, to hear. PDD – Pervasive Developmental Disorder. It’s basically an umbrella term under which a variety of social/communication problems are grouped. Autism, Asperger’s, Rett Syndrome; they are all part of the group. Then there is the nebulous PDD-NOS. The last bit stands for Not Otherwise Specified. I can’t help but think of that as, “Your child doesn’t fit these other conditions perfectly, but she still ain’t quite right.”
The PDD diagnosis isn’t always a bad thing. It qualifies Jazzy for more therapies and services (our insurance company is going to hate us) and should smooth her transition out of EI and into the school system when that time comes. But… fuck, you know? No matter how perfect she is to me, to the rest of the world she’ll be imperfect as long as this diagnosis and its symptoms stand.
She may always have to work harder to do things I take for granted. She may struggle to form friendships, whereas my older two girls have always socialized with ease. She may not be able to realistically “be anything she wants to be”, like we all tell our kids. I hate that possibility.
I’m trying hard to stay in the present, but once in a while the future pounces on me when I’m vulnerable and leaves me clenching my fists and frustrated that I am powerless against this diagnosis. Actually, it’s not the diagnosis I want to protect her from, it’s the ignorant, inflexible world she’ll have to live in.
There is so much to say about going through this process with her, but it is overwhelming for me to try and articulate it all at once. My emotions are all over the place. My one consistent thought is, “I just want her to feel as blessed to be her as I am to be her Mama.”
Maybe it would soften the blow if I had a neighborhood full of Muppets to sing to me. “One of these kids is not like the others…”