Elijah met a new doctor today – a developmental pediatrician. We wanted to talk to a guy who specifically works with kids who have developmental disabilities. We also wanted to know if this doctor had any more advice for us in terms of what we can do for our little guy. We're happy we went to see this doctor. He was really nice, he knows his stuff, and I think the visit proved to be beneficial.
The doctor went over Elijah's history with us and showed us charts correlating to his development (based on worksheets we'd filled out ahead of time). The doc told us what he was going to write in his report – that Elijah has cerebral palsy, that he has global developmental delays (meaning he's delayed in every single area of his development), and that if he were to give Elijah a median age it would be about 14 months...Some areas of his development (gross motor – walking, running) are much higher and closer to his actual age of 26 months and some areas (such as his speech) are severely delayed. Yes, these are things we mostly already knew, but it's still hard to hear it from an expert. It's still hard to see your child's development charted so far below his peers.
The doctor also mentioned that he thought Elijah is exhibiting signs of Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (or PPD-NOS), which means that Elijah exhibits some of the behaviors of autism, but not all of them. Honestly, this one took me a little by surprise. We weren't expecting to walk away from this appointment with another suggested diagnosis. Does that mean Elijah has autism? Nope. Does Elijah officially have this PDD-NOS diagnosis? Not yet, but the doctor recommended filling out some pretty extensive paperwork to determine if PDD-NOS fits Elijah's behaviors. Am I shocked? Nope. When you've already been told that your child has brain damage and that the damage is severe, well, not much can sound as bad as that. The doctor also mentioned that about 3/4 of the kiddos he sees - that have a history like Elijah's - show signs of PDD-NOS.
The doctor mentioned re-doing an MRI. Elijah's last MRI was performed when he was 8 days old. An MRI at two years would look much different and might give us some more insight into how Elijah's injury has affected his brain and how his brain has developed. Would it change Elijah's therapies and interventions? Probably not. Might it help us understand him better? Maybe. We'd have to sedate Elijah for this study, so we don't take this decision lightly. It's something we're definitely going to think seriously about before having it performed.
The doctor also mentioned testing Elijah's hearing. Elijah's hearing was tested when he was still in the NICU (and he passed), but this doc wants to know if Elijah's brain is receiving and interpreting the sounds. Just as Elijah has an issue processing what he sees (and has been diagnosed with CVI), it could be possible that he has an issue processing what he hears. We'll definitely be performing a test called Auditory Brainstem evoked Response (ABR) (also known as a BAER), which tests both the ear and the brain. We know that Elijah hears as he's very sensitive to sound. But, is he able to understand what he is hearing? Is his brain receiving the information? That's a hard one. We don't know and hopefully this test will give us some answers.
I know it may not seem like it, but overall it was a really good appointment. We liked the doctor and feel like he's already giving us some answers and help instead of just saying, "You're doing great!" or "Just keep up what you're already doing." While those things are nice to hear, it's helpful to get the most information we can about our little dude. And while we certainly don't want any more diagnoses, they simply are labels that explain what our child is experiening based on the injury that's already happened. It's never anything new. The doctor was sweet to Elijah and he mentioned more than once how well Elijah is doing. He just stopped at one point and said, "Wow, he is doing really well." And Elijah is doing really well. Adding more diagnoses to his list won't change anything. It certainly won't change how much we love this little guy. All we can do is keep on trying to see the world how he sees it...not only so we can understand him a little better, but because I think if we could we'd make the world a happier place.
Try to look at this picture and not smile. I dare you.