Author’s Note: Sorry for the delay. As promised here is the second part of the post.
The Phone Call
The call I thought was just pretty casual. Laughing at Santi’s antics at school. When slowly I noticed she was getting serious and was talking about how often his tantrums were at school. And how he can’t be controlled when it is time to sit down and discuss something. He is only happy to do stuff that he likes and he is behaved when he likes what he is doing. Normally, artworks he is very organized with his art materials and prefers to be independent all the time. The teacher demonstrates what to then they do it. More often than not, his work was better than the teacher’s sample. He was OC (Obsessive Compulsive) with everything, his materials are aligned straight, when he plays with blocks they are piled and stocked up straight. At his age he should be speaking in phrases. He is not speaking at all. She was also my eldest son’s pre-school teacher and she reminded me that Bruce went to school at the same age but he was already talkative at that age. I knew where she was getting at.
In spite of the school directress being one of my long time friends and Santi’s Godmother and that she is just a 100% concerned about her Godson and as one of my closes friends for many years, I still felt a pang of anger and became defensive. At the back of my mind, there is no way that this woman would want anything bad for my son.
From personal the conversation became professional the way it supposed to be. She said my son needs to be evaluated by a Developmental Pediatrician. To find out if he has some kind of Autism. And the evaluation is a requirement for the school to accept him as a regular student this coming school year. It was loud and clear, “Sorry, kumadre we can’t accept Santi unless you have that evaluation. Try other schools.” Then she gave me a list of those kinds of doctors near our area and their contact numbers. And if ever I need anything I should not hesitate contacting her or her office.
For weeks I have been debating should I should I not? A mother knows best and I know my son best. No he is not, he is just an unusual kid. Had something to do when I was carrying him for 9 months. Other mothers are telling me oh come on look at your son? He doesn’t have the looks of somebody who has autism? And he obeys you. A kid who has Autism won’t obey you one bit. The school just wants you to spend more find another school am sure there will be schools who will be accepting him.
Finally, after a number of phone calls, cancellation here and there. Gosh, getting an appointment with a Developmental Pediatrician was so difficult. As they are only about a few practicing in the entire country. They are that in demand and they command a very high price. I prepared and set aside a budget for this. For me it was small price to pay to clear out my son is reputation. My son is not autistic and this shall prove everyone wrong. And we can all move onto our normal lives.
We found Dr. Ma. Cristina Reyes-Caguioa, She was the most recommended doctor of the school. She was supposed to be leaving for Australia for further study so in the beginning we were not able to get an appointment. We settled for the usual doctor the school gets. According, to the in house Occupational Therapist of the school, this new doctor is more thorough and has studied abroad on her craft. Unfortunately, we were too late.
Our appointment with the doctor was June 23. The school will give special privileges my son can enroll and go to school on the June 13 awaiting the evaluation. Until one day I got a call from the secretary of Dr. Caguioa saying that the doctor’s trip as postponed to July. Thank God! I took the nearest appointment and cancelled the other appointment with the other doctor. On June 4 my son underwent Griffith’s Mental Development Scale. It was to test and measure Santi’s mental development. it was a gruesome two hours of puzzles, the doctor had a kit of puzzles and toys etc. The doctor was still young, younger than I am, I think. Looking at his gown it had the insignia of her school which is University of the Philippines (It was a med school for scholars so you have to bright and smart to get into this school)
After the evaluation the Doctor immediately told me that Santiago has Splinter Skills . The most famous example is Dustin Hoffman’s role in “Rain Man”. Being an Autistic Savant is having extra ordinary skills but would never know the relevance of it in his life. They could be great in music, Mathematics, arts etc but would never know how to apply it in their real life. He has extra ordinary auditory and visual memory skills. He can imitate anything in a quick span of time and able to do it himself. That is why after a couple of days, of looking into my fingers type the password on our computer expect that he knows the password tomorrow. The good thing is that unlike others he a good and long attention span and can stay seated and do tasks. He definitely has speech delay and the result of the Griffith’s was an over all or Global Developmental Delay (GDD) he is 4 years old but has the mental ability of a 2 year old.
On the way home I felt balloons coming down and floating everywhere. I feel like a balloon myself and have felt pain in my chest. I prayed for more strength to go through this. I have to be the strongest among the three of us. I have talked to Bruce carefully about his brother’s condition. He was not accepting it easily as well. He loves his brother very much. I discussed with him what the doctor wanted us to do. And I beg him to be more patient with his brother from now on. He told me that some of his friends have sibling who are like what they are saying about Santi and they are not like Santi. I just had to understand that he is in denial.
Santi is going to have Occupational Therapy once a week and Speech Therapy three times a week. Hopefully, after four months when we come back to his doctor there are improvements. He is now happily in school with 7 other classmates.
Everyday he is excited to go to school. He continues to excel everyday he is comes home with a stamp on his hand for a good job or a star for being very good on his performance. And has his weekly therapy on Saturday mornings.
Good is good I know he has reasons and is for my benefit that is why he has given me this responsibility. But I know He is not going to let me down here. With love and teamwork we can all go through this.