Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs
This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 15, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 18, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Does He, or Doesn't He?
We have worked with many professionals, for many years, in an effort to help our son stop his engine from revving so high and allow it to putter merrily at idle speed.
This year, Weston transferred up to the middle school, unfortunately with disastrous results. A change in medication caused his moods to escalate out of control. The school supports we discussed during his many IEP transitional meetings were never initiated. New personnel at the school were woefully unprepared to handle Weston's issues. His difficulties handing transitions and understanding social situations spiraled way out of control until at last Weston found himself suspended from school with a self esteem now in the gutter.
Of course, after stabilizing the situation at school, now came the time to sort things out with Weston's medical team. During one of our many meetings with the school, the teachers told me they believed Weston had autism, since he had trouble maintaining eye contact when confronted.
Our psychologist, Dr. N, was adamant. No, Weston did not have autism. She explained how anxiety run amok can often mimic the characteristics of autism. Since Weston was in crisis mode, diagnosing Weston with autism at this time was reckless and dangerous. I agreed with her and brought her in to speak with the school.
Our dilemma now, however, is how to ensure a quality of life for my son that protects his precious self esteem? We decide to give Weston a small second dose of his existing med while he is at school.
I asked Dr. S, does he think Weston is autistic? His response? Yes!
"What?" I asked somewhat stunned. I thought out-of-control ADHD and anxiety can "look" like autism?
Dr. S explained to me that since Weston has trouble relating to others in social ways, he could be considered "on the spectrum". He further explained that psychiatrists now are reluctant to categorize individuals into subsets like autism, aspergers, bipolar, or ADHD since all of these disorders have a wide range of symptoms that seem to overlap. There can be a wide range of how an individual is effected by these symptoms. So, current psychiatric practice is now to diagnose the individual as "on the spectrum" if he/she has several symptoms and trouble engaging socially.
I now have two of my most trusted professionals who completely disagree with one another.
My question still unanswered.....
"Does he or doesn't he?"
Does Weston have autism?
So last Thursday, the day after our big blizzard, Weston took his test.
Things at school have settled down considerably for Weston. His second dose of meds at school has helped to keep him more focused and successful. More supports have been put in place by the school and for the first time in many months, Weston seems happy.
However, do I want to slap a questionable label on my son that will follow him for the rest of his life, perhaps effecting his ability to hold a job, to join the armed services, or even to get married, if it is not necessary?
I guess these are questions that soon will be answered when we receive the results from his test.
That is one envelope I am not anxious to open.