The Faces of Autism/Dacotah

Meet Dacotah!

Dacotah is a very intelligent 10 year old boy.  Unlike the rest of the kids featured this month, Dacotah has not been officially diagnosed with Autism.  Even though he doesn't carry the diagnosis, I felt it was important to include him because there are many people out there that fall into the type of limbo he is in.  He has many signs and symptoms of Autism, but due to his age and IQ level, it is more difficult to get a diagnosis.  Because through OT and Speech over the years, he has learned many coping techniques that make some signs harder to see unless you are with him for extended periods of time.

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When Dacotah was younger, he would have violent meltdowns, leaving me bruised and exhausted.  He couldn't control himself or his behaviors, which led to many referrals and specialists.  Between the ages of 3-4 years old, he was evaluated for Autism.  7 years ago, testing and evaluating for Autism was different than it is today.  At the time, because of the way he played with legos in the Psychologist's office, they ruled out Autism and referred him to a Neurologist for possible seizures and to Occupational Therapy for an evaluation.  No seizures were found on his EEG, but OT did say he had what was referred to then as Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID), better known today as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  

Dacotah doesn't feel pain like his typical peers.  He can cut his foot open and not feel it or know how it happened, but a light touch can bring him to tears, for example.  He has a hard time with certain food textures.  He has a very hard time concentrating with any distractions, even ones that a typical person doesn't even notice, like the buzzing of overhead florescent lights.

Dacotah has a hard time showing a full range of emotions.  For a very long time, he only had happy, blank, or sad.  Instead of being angry or being able to show frustration, he would immediately cry.  Any emotion that wasn't happy, he showed by crying.  That has become his version of a meltdown.  He also has a hard time reading and understanding tone.  Sarcasm is not something he can grasp.  Dacotah is a very literal person, his world is black and white with no grey.  This becomes very frustrating as every possible scenario needs to be thought of and explained.  If we say "Don't talk to strangers" we also have to add in every scenario that would require a child to talk to a stranger. Don't talk to strangers. Unless it is a police officer, unless it is a firefighter, unless you are lost and need help finding us, unless you are hurt, unless.... well, you get the idea.

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We have these struggles, along with a long list of more, with Dacotah, but over all he is a sweet, smart, well-behaved kid.  He loves sports, video games, card games (Magic, pokemon, and whatever is out there), movies, and spending time with his family.