Trillian has been posting to our family blog, informing friends and family members about recent developments with Scooter. She has been matter-of-fact about the potential for an autism diagnosis and the actions we're taking to help him (regardless of what the final pronouncement is).
At the family reunion, it became clear that many people have been reading our family blog. And that those who don't have heard from those who do. Thus, Trillian and I both had numerous conversations on the topic. A fairly representative conversation:
WM (well-meaning family member): Has anything more happened with Scooter?
OP (optimistic parent): Not yet. We're scheduled for the evaluation this fall.
WM: He seems just fine. What are they worried about?
OP: Well, his speech is behind where we'd expect. And he definitely has sensory processing issues. Some of that's being addressed in occupational therapy. The sensory piece may also affect his language development since it's become clear to us that he has trouble with aural overload and filtering out important noises.
WM: That doesn't seem too bad.
OP: There are also concerns about his social interactions. He's drawn to the loud and aggressive boys, but ends up being a target when he hangs out with them. His teachers at daycare are wonderful and have been redirecting him to better suited playmates, but he's still working on things like communicating his feelings to them.
WM: But do you really need to label him?
OP: We're pretty sure he'll need some support for at least the first couple years of school to ensure he has success. And that's part of why we're moving to [town near in-laws]. (and that would turn into a whole other conversation)
WM: Well, he seems fine to me.
Most conversations were some variation on this theme, with continuous assertions from the family member that Scooter seems like a healthy little four-year-old. I didn't disagree and would agree that he was active and smart and sweet and creative and everything I could want in a child. I would even concede that I suspect that Scooter's biggest issue is the sensory piece and that if we can help him with that the other problems will be much easier to deal with.
As I mentioned before, this is the mathematician side of the family. I suspect that some of their unease with the topic and insistence that everything is just fine comes from a certain recognition of themselves in Scooter and our descriptions of his problems. I recognize in their reaction my initial response to the suggestion of autism. And so I tried to be factual and straightforward, demonstrating confidence and comfort in our plan of action. This seemed to work with most people so that I didn't have to push my point or have the same conversation multiple times with the same person. But it's a large family and they generally prefer talking one-on-one. Anyway you do the math, it's a large number!