Monday, September 30, 2013

Is It Asperger's?

First off, I promised an update after our appointment last week with Little Boo's psychiatrist. A bunch of questions were asked; he answered very clearly and maturely; and it was determined that we are not at risk of depressive episodes arising from his medication. He does feel different, but not necessarily sad, just quieter and less excitable. Which I guess is exactly the point of the medicine.  We'll keep an eye on it, but he is still feeling joy and pleasure, just not to the extreme. That's reassuring.

Meanwhile, I asked for help with his social and behavioural struggles. His teacher had said her main concern is his difficulty forming friendships and understanding how to interact with his peers. I'd add to that his tendency to act out aggressively when he gets frustrated, either with himself or with others. He has developed good coping skills that usually allow him to remove himself from a situation when he feels the frustration coming on. Usually, but not always. Their only suggestion? Keep talking to him about how to make better choices and allow him supervised activities where he can practice his coping skills.

Huh?

This is just not cutting it for me. My beautiful, loving, intelligent child hit his best friend yesterday. With the toy he was holding. In the face. Because his friend wasn't listening to him. He was in a busy, loud, group activity. It was chaotic. Other kids weren't following "the rules" of the game. He couldn't cope. (Remember, he's seven years old - not a toddler!)

None of that is to excuse his behaviour. It was not acceptable. I removed him and took him home immediately. The other child is ok, but obviously upset and, I imagine, confused. They won't be allowed to play together any more. This is breaking my heart.

I'm at the end of my rope.

I know there's more going on with Little Boo than is being addressed in his current treatment.  So, I took to Dr. Google. (I know. You don't need to tell me.)

green question mark
image from Kozzi.com
I've suspected Asperger's Syndrome for a number of years, and so did his first psychiartrist. Little Boo was very young then and was given a referral to Sick Kids to better follow-up. His current psychiatrist will not say Asperger's. So, I decided to find out why.

I visited the Asperger's Society of Ontario website, and they've included a lot of helpful information, including Common Traits in Asperger's, and the DSM-IV-TR Criteria. And guess what? Although he has almost all (I could only exclude 5 of the 29 listed) common traits, he does not meet the diagnostic criteria. He comes close, but he's technically missing one "restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour, interests, and activities." He needs at least 2 of the 4 listed. He clearly exhibits one, and I would argue that his general inflexibility and adherence to rules should count as well. But I'm not a doctor.

I do know that my child is struggling, and on the face of it is dealing with many/most of the issues faced by kids diagnosed with Asperger's. But he isn't recognised, so isn't getting the help he needs. Of course, I'm assuming that there is help, and that other kids are receiving it. I realise I could be totally wrong on that count. And I could also just be over-reacting. But. I have to advocate for my child. The struggles are real whatever the root cause. I have to see that he gets the best care possible. I have to help him deal with his frustrations, become more flexible, and stop acting out aggressively. (The aggression isn't a daily occurrence, and it's not premeditated, but it still can't be happening!)

I'm frustrated, scared, sad, panicked, and exhausted.
I'm not asking you for answers. (Wait, maybe I am if you have them. Or at least an awesome referral.) But if you have some positive vibes you can send our way, that would totally rock.

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