For years, since my first obsessive Google of the word autism, I have heard repeatedly from THE EXPERTS, that it doesn't matter what you call "it", what matters is getting Ryan the help he needs to be successful. I couldn't agree more with the getting help part, but sorry EXPERTS on The Today Show, it does matter what we call "it". Does your aging face have character or wrinkles? Are you a disorganized mess or a free spirit? Are your kids bad or adventurous? Has time made you wiser or older? What you call "it" most certainly matters, especially when "it" effects your child.
My worry, is that after years of finally helping people understand autism, all these changes may lead to more confusion and possibly a big step backward. Will lumping all these diagnoses under one giant "it" cause people to believe now that this huge spectrum has become one singular diagnosis and that all these kids who receive "it" are the same? Will "it" cause school districts to lump all these kids into one category since, after all, THE Book did so? Add to that a new diagnosis of Social Communication Disorder that no one has ever heard of before. For kids who receive this diagnosis, my fear is that there will be a perception that SCD kids are "better off" than a child with an ASD, and we may be right back to square one like we were years ago with kids suffering from lack of support. I also worry about those with an Asperger Diagnosis who have a sense of finally belonging, a culture where they "fit in", support networks, and social media sites where "Aspies" form friendships and bond over their uniqueness. What happens when these "Aspies" are told their diagnosis is no longer an official diganostic description by those deciding what to call "it". I firmly believe that regardless of what THE book says, the term Aspergers and those who affiliate themselves with that diagnosis are here to stay. These "Aspies may take the pages of the DSM-V and wipe their....well, you know.
For worriers like myself, I have wondered where does Ryan now fall on this spectrum? I'm back to Googling and diagnosing again. After years of hanging with the wrong crowd, my BFF Denial finally skipped town only to come back for a little reunion to help me decide if Ryan has an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis, Severity Level 1 because of his "restricted" diet of meatless cheeseburgers and Jello Vanilla Pudding and his love of Hollister shirts or is "it" Social Communication Disorder (SCD) since his biggest struggle is social language? If "it's" SCD then that begs the question is my blog now a fraud? Must I title it the AWEnesty of Social Communication Disorder? And do I tell Ryan that his diagnosis has changed? Will it matter to him what "they" call "it"? My poor, tired brain. I bet that DSM-5 has a sound, irrefutable "it" for me.
As Ryan's mother, what "it" is called while I snuggle him, grocery shop with him and discuss the latest weather pattern with him doesn't matter, but when an insurance company needs to understand why my son needs a cavity filled in an outpatient surgical facility rather than a dentist office because there is not enough laughing gas in the world to make him chuckle or willingly open his mouth, "it" matters. What you call "it" may mean the difference for grant money to help pay for an expensive summer camp where Ryan is embraced by others wearing the same "it" while playing, laughing and learning how to make "it" understood and accepted by "us". When the school needs to know why my son may need his schedule on a computer rather than a piece of paper because his sensory system can't bear the thought of touching any type of paper, "it" matters. So, you Today Show Experts, who so glibly say, it doesn't matter what you call "it", well, I beg to differ.
I would love to agree with those oh, so certain experts, on their "it" campaign, but we are a society of "its". The proof is in the DSM-5. The gut wrenching, painful grief of losing a loved one is no longer a devastating heartbreak over the fragility of life. If that heartache goes on too long or is too debilitating, well then "it" becomes a Major Depressive Disorder. For those of us who take out our frustrations on a bag of chips, or my personal choice, a bag of Peanut M&M's, twelve times in three months, "it" is no longer a moment of weak piggishness, "it" is a Binge Eating Disorder. When your toddler's temper tantrums are so disruptive "it" is no longer considered The Terrible Twos, "it" is a Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. Yep, "it" matters.
The jury is still out on how these changes of "it" will effect children and adults with an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis. Apparently, how "it" is handled, in regards to new evaluations for kids whose diagnosis is no longer recognized in the DSM-5 to educating school officials, insurance companies and treatment providers on the new "it" will reportedly be left up to individual states and local systems to determine what is best. Sounds to me like "it" could be a real cluster *#*#. As for THE EXPERTS who so quickly dismiss the importance of what we call "it", well please don't be offended when I sit next to you pool side at my rented house in The Hamptons (it's my blog...I can dream) and tell you that you look "fat" not "healthy" in your new Spanx swimsuit. I will just pull up Poynt on my phone and find the nearest gym where you can "get the help you need to be successful" assuming of course "fat" is an acceptable "it" in a gym at The Hamptons.