Yesterday, Bella and I spent two hours with a developmental pediatrician and a clinical psychologist. They had interviewed me, reviewed information from her teacher, and they wanted to meet her in person. (Our first appointment was on Zoom) For two hours we talked about Bella's medical history and how she interacts with the world.
Bella lives in her own little world. A happy world with Disney princesses, Polly Pocket, and Barbie. It's how she dresses. It's how she entertains herself. She doesn't watch movies - she acts them out - every word, motion, and emotion fully on display.
I have been asked several times, "Is Bella autistic?"
"No," I would reply. "She's just had a lot of medical trauma and was forced to live in her head for years."
A couple of teacher conferences ago (you know, when we actually used to have those in person), her teacher asked me, "Shelly, is Bella autistic?" (This man has been her teacher for five years and knows her as well as I do!) "No," I start my spiel.... "Shelly," he interrupted, "Is Bella autistic?" Huge pause. This man that knows Bella so well, and teaches autistic children all day asking me …We have to think about Junior High and High School. When she has people around her that don't know her so well. When schools would take away services. When my baby isn't sheltered. Is she autistic?
So at her next well child check up we asked for a referral for testing. We waited. COVID came.
And then the Zoom meeting, and then the in person...."Bella is a happy child. You have done a good job making sure she has all of the services she needs. You can tell she is loved. (Do they practice how to break bad news?) We feel she qualifies for the definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Now whether that was from birth or what she has experienced, we'll never know, but by definition, she qualifies for ASD."
We leave. And I try to keep my heart from breaking.
It changes nothing. I didn't want another label. But this has never been about me - it's about doing what's best for Miss Bella. How I love that little Princess!! <3