Monday, October 25, 2010

The Autism Spectrum Test and other Diagnostic Tools

There is an autism spectrum test going around on the internet (especially Facebook). It is real. It is used clinically. If you score high, it does not mean you are autistic or there is something wrong with you. IT ALSO DOES NOT MEAN THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE TEST.

These tests are standardized, meaning they have tested them on thousands of people to establish a range of what is normal compared to those who they know have autism. It is not a joke. It is a tool. And tools are used for particular purposes. It does not mean it is a bad test when it is used outside the context it was designed for.

This is a screener, and it does a very good job of screening. It is meant to rule things out, not to diagnose. If you scored low on the test, it meant you had a lot of answers that fell into the Mildly Agree or Mildly Disagree categories. Guess what? A person firmly in the Autism Spectrum does NOT experience life that way. Either they are overstimulated or they are not, either they like you, or they don't, they can't just *kind of* not deal with change well, they just really DON'T deal with change well. Either a person picks up on another's emotional cues, or they REALLY don't.

So a counselor administers this test, and if the client scored low, they say "well, it's not autism." If the client scored higher, they say "lets look at this more." They might find that the client shows other signs of autism. They also might find that the client is an introverted person who operates more in his head than in his emotions and is rather most Lutherans are.

ANY test used for diagnosis should be used this way. Getting a certain score on a written test, unlike taking a test in school, does not mean you have something. It means it should simply be considered. You can still be quite healthy and normal and score fairly high on this test. It's simply that if you score low on this test, you do NOT have autism.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


It's been a rough month. October always hits me fairly hard. I know Winter is coming. It also is insanely busy. I'm almost always working in October, school, church is always busy, kids start in on their lessons (yeah, right). October is always riddled with stress in a way no other month is.

But the usual chaos was kicked off with a mind-blowing realization for me.

Noah would be twelve.

My son, Noah, died in pregnancy at 16 or 17 weeks, and he was delivered on October 1st, 1998. After I was induced, I held his little, beautiful body in my hand, admired his perfectly-shaped hands and feet. Jeff and I got to say goodbye to him, grieve him, have him cremated, and have a memorial service for him.

When we were still in California, we'd go away on his birthday and do something nice for us, because it was always a rough time, and we felt the date coming before we even were aware what was making us out of sorts. Somewhere in that process, we'd release a balloon for Noah. We stopped doing that when we moved here. I don't know why. Maybe because on the first October 1st in Indiana, our heads were still spinning from the travel, from being sick, and from moving in. But his birthday came and went without us noticing.

But I still notice. My husband and I usually do something, if only talk about it.

This year was different. Twelve. It doesn't seem like twelve years. Actually, some years it seems like fifty.

But when comparing kids, two years can be a big difference, developmentally. Ten years old is a lot different than twelve years old. But twelve is not a whole lot different than thirteen-only-four-weeks-from fourteen. And I have one of those walking around the house. Nope. Not much different at all.

And that really drives the truth home. I should be having two boys who are eating me out of house and home or who are obsessed with how their height compares to mine. There should be two boys who are looking at high school and beyond. And there should be two boys who bugging me to drive them to Game Stop and kicking the snot out of each other on the Wii.

What should be hasn't felt this tangible since I could imagine holding Noah in my arms. But this month, Noah's absence is very real.