Just over a year go, after the first mention that Scooter might be on the autism spectrum, Trillian and I struggled to wrap our minds around that idea. Our hope, right at the beginning, was that getting him the therapy that had been suggested to us would mean that he would improve enough to be (at least) just on the other side of the diagnostic criteria.
Once we had some time to settle into the idea, read a lot, watch our son thrive in occupational therapy, we began to worry that we would push him just out of a diagnosis. The fear wasn't enough to stop us from pushing forward with interventions that seemed to make a difference.
Guess what we just found out?
The evaluators told us that he is "as borderline as a kid can be." But for the time being, they don't feel he quite meets the diagnostic criteria for autism, PDD-NOS, or Asperger's, primarily in the social skills* category. The final deciding factor (and apparently it was a lively debate that took the better part of an hour) was his improvement of the past 12-18 months and the idea that if he continues on the same trajectory for another year, he will definitely not meet the criteria.
From the history and previous evaluations we provided, they agreed that they probably would have diagnosed him a year ago (PDD-NOS, I'm guessing), but that there is a small subset of children who improve beyond their diagnosis in a few years. And they didn't tell us to stop any of the therapy he currently receives, even suggested looking for a social skills speech group to help with his fluency issues.
A year ago, I would have burst into tears if given a report like this. I would have felt dismissed and unsupported. It's a little easier now because we have support through the school system. My biggest fear right now is that he might no longer qualify for an IEP under his current category before he's ready to leave those supports. (I think, though desperately need to check this with his OT, that the catch-all category--other developmental delay--he's in can only be used for a limited number of years.)
So we have to wait another year for another round of testing.
*The fact that he has friends is, apparently, enough to qualify as having social skills that move him beyond the diagnostic criteria. Despite having no real answer to the question "What is a friend?" and "problematic" eye contact.