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That Damn Diagnosis

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Kristina Lakes

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“James has autism,” I typed the next day. I was sending an email to our family and friends. I couldn’t imagine talking to them all, saying the words again and again on the phone. I knew some people would be mad that I was putting such big news in an email, but I also knew that some people would be relieved that I wasn’t telling them face-to-face. 

 “The psychiatrist at Dayton Children’s diagnosed him, and we will, of course, seek a second opinion, but it looks like the diagnosis is correct. He also has Attention Deficit Disorder and Oppositional Behavior Defiance Disorder. But the main diagnosis is autism. I know that one day we will be the “Poster Parents” for Autism, and we will raise money and awareness and do walks …. but right now we are devastated,” I wrote. Then I hit send. 

I walked out into the living room.

“Well, I did it,” I said to Sean.

“Did what?”

“I told everyone. I sent a mass email. Your family and mine.”

“Okay,” Sean answered. “What did you say?”

I told him, and Sean winced.

“What?” I asked. “You don’t think I should have told them all of that?”

“I don’t think you should have said we’ll be poster parents,” he said, with a laugh. “Now we have to live up to it.”


 

The next day, when Sean came home from work, he came and sat by me.

I looked up from my computer.

“Did we get a lot of  emails back?” he asked, glancing at the screen.

“Yeah, everyone’s been really nice. Lots of “I’m so sorry,” or “We’re thinking about you.”  I stood up and pushed the chair in with a bang.

“So what’s wrong?” Sean asked.

“I don’t know.  None of them have said what I really wanted to hear, I guess.”

“Which is?”

“That it isn’t true.“

“Kristina.” Sean put his arm around me.

“No, it’s fine. I’m alright.”

Sean sighed. “You wrote my sisters?”

“Yeah. They said they’re surprised.  Becca said, ‘But he’s so smart!’ and added about 50 exclamation points.”

“Ha!” Sean said. “Sounds like her.”

  A lot of people gave us suggestions of doctors to contact -- and diets to try. Good Lord, you should read all the advice about diets. ‘No dairy! No red dye’”

“Well, what did you say back?” Sean asked.

“Mostly, I just wrote what I thought that they wanted to hear.”

“Like what?”

“Oh, we’ve never thought about that! We’ll try that! Yes, yes, it’s good to finally have a diagnosis. Yes, I remember our second cousin’s step son who has it and yes, I know he did just fine in life.” I got up. 

“Jack? He’s weird.” Sean said.

“I know.” I answered. I turned out the light to the study.

“I also told everyone we are okay,” I said.

“Are we?” Sean asked, as he walked down the hall.

“No,” I answered.

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