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I only have like two minutes, so this will be short - but I promise I will be back. My son was (finally) diagnosed with PDD-NOS shortly before he turned five. I had been telling pediatricians for years that he needed an evaluation, but kept getting the standard "he's a boy" "he's just late" "he'll grow out of it" until finally I told pediatrician number three "I will get him diagnosed, and when I do I will tell anyone and everyone that I can find that my son had a problem and you refused to help him". He wrote me a referral immediately.

He did speak, but was way delayed. He was affectionate, but only with me. He lined things up. He had to wear socks 24 hours a day no matter the weather. He had to have a very structured routine. Making the change from long sleeves and coats to short sleeves was traumatic. He only started wearing shorts two summers ago, and it was *huge* for our family. When he was in preschool they had this carpet with the alphabet on it - on the first day of school he sat on the green letter Y. After that, in his mind, that was his spot and if he didn't get it his entire day would be ruined. We went through three rounds of speech therapy and started working with him on some of the other things.

Now he is an eight year old second grader in a mainstream class with no IEP, no therapies, no special help at all - just a family that loves and supports him and teachers that understand and help him. On Tuesday I attended an awards assembly and watched my boy receive High Honor Roll for the fifth consecutive time - he received it all four grading periods of first grade and this first grading period of second grade (they don't have that in kindergarten). He is loving and kind. He is much better about varying from routine. His speech is totally on grade level. He relates pretty well with his peers. He gives me hugs and kisses all the time, kisses his baby sister on the forehead every night when she goes to bed, and kisses his big sister on all special holidays - after all, we all know that thirteen year old girls have cooties. ;-)

We still have issues - Wednesday my oldest daughter ripped her last contact and we had to make a trip to Sam's Club after school for an eye exam. He was tired, cranky and overstimulated, and the trip ended with both of us in tears and coming straight home instead of stopping somewhere for dinner. But those times are coming fewer and fewer - honestly, before Wednesday I can't tell you the last time that happened.

Honestly he is the best boy. Parenting him is a challenge (I'm also a single mom of three) but it is also so rewarding, because I watch him beat the odds every day, and know that my love has played some small part in it.

At times I do fear I favor him over my girls, and I try to be so careful, but honestly, I think it is because he *needs* me more than they do, not because I love him more.

My biggest piece of advice I can give you is to not let that (or any!) label define your child. When (and if) he does receive that diagnosis, he will be the same exact boy he was the day before, you'll just be able to get the help he needs. That's all. It won't change who he is, and it won't change how much you love him.

I'm always just a PM away, if there is anything else I can do for you...

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