The author, Juliet Hiznay, is a special education advocate and attorney in private practice in Northern Virginia. For information about her practice, visit http://jdhiznay.com/
For my own family, it all started during a parent-teacher conference at a private preschool. The teachers told us they were concerned that our 4-year old son might not be able to be a successful and whole person or reach his full potential in life. Blinking through tears, I was shocked, bewildered and had no notion of what had just happened. They explained what they were observing at school, but their experience of our son was very different from our experience of him. It was very hard to accept. We now know that the preschool setting was a much more challenging place for our child than our quiet and predictable home. It was hard to recognize in our son the nature of his disability because he was sweet tempered, engaging, enthusiastic, physically active and verbal. He had not missed any benchmarks other than fine motor tasks. Over time we came to accept that he was on the autism spectrum. At the time, without knowing the vocabulary of the disability universe, the internet was not the tool it should have been, and parenting books were too vague. It required many forays with specialists to arrive at a diagnosis. It was a painful and expensive journey and I regret that it took so long.