Friday, May 6, 2011

Diagnosis: hypocrite

Not too long ago I wrote about how wonderfuly empowering asking for and receiving mental health care has been for the adult cave-people in this clan. I like to think I am relatively good at followingy own advice. When a need exists, it is strength, not weakness that permits one to cross the threshold into the professional's office and sit down in the big comfy chair.
But I find myself conflicted as I turn over again and again in my mind the suggestion that there is something wrong with my son that is greater than just not trying hard enough, or as simple as being emotionally immature.
I have counseled with teachers, administrators, friends, and friends with personal experience. It seems the general consensus is Cave dude jr could use some professional help and it should start with somebody who can diagnose Asperger's syndrome. Its hard to hear. Its even harder because the suggestions have been made in such a loving and concerned way. It makes it impossible to be angry or in denial when people act genuinely concerned that a child gets every resource he needs to be successful and that they just need him to be diagnosed so they can give him more.
But the part of me that is insecure and feels the need to interpret every challenge as first : proof that I'm not trying hard enough, and second: an opportunity to try harder, wonders if we just aren't effective enough in our parenting? What of all he needs is _________? What if seeking a diagnosis really is just seeking to absolve a couple of cave people of their neanderthal parenting style?  What if he gets diagnosed and now suddenly he's allowed to get away with murder at school, and poor grades from a previously above average academic student are now acceptable because he's. " special".
It all stresses me out. Friends in the know have advised to proceed with caution, other friends have said what can it hurt? At least you'll ha e a better frame ofreference for his " normal". Other friends have supported the "try harder" theory.
Even as I write this,  I know the right answer is to consult with professionals. But part of me is scared. What if being labeled steals his dreams for his adult life? How do I answer that? What if not being labeled and therefore not receiving additional learning and social resources steal his dreams? What if, what if, what if?
In the meantime, this wonderful little saber-toothed cub is home from school for two days while we try to discipline him in a way that makes a difference and curbs future outbursts, a task that has previously proven itself difficult at best. And what do I want? First to pike up this headache that is ravaging my brain and bowels, and second to talk with my counselor, stat.


Kristina P. said...

These are all such valid questions. When I teach groups to the adolescents I work with, I do groups about labels with them. How they've been labeled by their peers, adults, and professionals, and how labels can sometimes be a positive thing. It helps people be able to work with them in a positive and appropriate manner, and help them navigate their world a bit easier.

I worked with a kid who was not honest with his school counselors about the diagnoses he had received, and therefore, his IEP wasn't accurate and he was really struggling in school. He said that he didn't want to be labeled a basket case.

Unfortunately, it was backfiring because he wasn't getting appropriate services and it was a diagnosis that was easy to work with and help him. He really did himself a disservice.

J. P. said...

A “positive thinker” who “gets in trouble when he’s not challenged,” Marcinko suspects, a man who “flunked vacation and flunked relaxing.”

He was probably a high school or college athlete, Smith says, a physical specimen who combines strength, speed and agility. “They call themselves ‘tactical athletes,’ ” says Smith, who works with many prospective SEALs in his Heroes of Tomorrow training program....

sound like anyone we know?

Heather said...

I know the feeling and I have those same thoughts with Kaleb. It has been brought up to me before as well that we should see a specialist (especially one that specializes in aspergers) it is a scary thing, do to our current insurance I can't take him to one without a referral(which I can't get his pediatrician to give me)she thinks he's a typical 3 yr funny thing is he is 5 and he has been her patient since he was 2! Anyway getting off that and back on track I worry about the disservice a label might bring but also have to way in the relief it may bring.

I worked with kids with autism and aspergers for 3 yrs, and one of the moms of 2 of the boys, always had the attitude that no matter what the label they had she treated them just like her other "normal" kids and she had the teachers do the same thing (to a certain extent).

Our insurance changes by the end of this month so when I get back from Idaho I will be taking Kaleb in, even though it's scary I know it's the best decision.

Lara said...

I understand the fear. I think it takes a strong person to be able to admit something might be off with their child and get the help they need. I don't know if I am strong enough, were I to be put in the situation, which is why I totally understand!

The book I just read was narrated by an Asperger's girl who had gone undiagnosed until age 28 or something. It was fascinating and eye-opening. And made me all the more unsure of labels.

Shantel said...

Speaking as an adult with Asperbergers, the best thing that ever happened to me was getting diagnosed. Not the easiest thing, but the best thing. I get why I struggle now. I stoped try to be perfect and accepted I have limitations. I also have amazing strengths I know I can tap into. Inforamtiom about yourself is allways good. But I get your fears, I have children with Autism, and it is a blow. In fact it sucks and blows. But we are doing it. and we are happy. It can work.