Tuesday, May 18, 2010
To Diagnose or not to Diagnose?
To Diagnose or not to diagnose? This is the question all parents of high functioning 'special' kids face....is it better to cruise along and manage? Or would it be better to have that official label in case it is needed at a later stage? Will it help the child if they have the label, or will it throw them into a 'poor me, I am just a 'crazy' frenzy. This is particularly relevant when we are looking at labeling an older child. A new label for an adult or older child can throw them into depression. How will an older child respond to a new 'label'? Will it be more detrimental to get a label or not? Will it be a relief for them to understand themselves and come to terms with who they are and how they are? Will it provide them with dignity, and access to better skills for coping with their issues?
I trained as a social worker... many years ago, I admit, but I do believe it has brought a special dynamic/resilience to our family that has been beneficial. I thought I knew quite a lot about our special needs and had it all under control. We had decided that to pursue a label for an older child would not be beneficial. We were in the process of diagnosing a younger kid with a world leading expert about 4 years ago when my hubby and I just looked at each other and it dawned on us both....this might not be everything the little one has but it is absolutely everything that the big one has. After speaking with this world leading expert it was decided that because of this age the bigger one would be better off just managing without an official label...About 4 years along and how wrong we were for now after a few exceptionally difficult weeks I wish with all my heart we had a label in hand!
Here is why I think a label is useful as young as possible?
(1) A label gives other people a point of reference and helps them to help your child, protect your child, enjoy your child, understand your child etc.
(2) A label means the child has to face the reality of their problem, like it or not. It helps to give them access to an identity and an understanding of who they are and what the point of their life is etc
(3) A label gives your special kid access to support and help when it is needed.
(4) A label gives you access to support as the parent.
(5) A label gives siblings access to support.
Of course there is always the fear that you could 'over diagnose' a child. Make sure your find a professional who has a good grasp of you particular area of need. Make sure you are well educated in your special needs area. Read as much as you can about it, go to the expense of buying books in that area. Know exactly what features your child has/faces and which he/she does not. Before you go to a professional make sure you know your subject back to front and inside out. Don't let unqualified professionals 'fob you off' with a misunderstandings of the basics, for example it is a misunderstood cliche that Aspergers people do not like to socialise. Of course they do like to have friends like anyone else, especially if parents have been very careful to provide very positive experiences in this area, and this is backed up by Tony Attwood who is the world's expert on Aspergers who points this very fact out. More to the point is, how do they socialise? I have know a Psychologist in an Aspergers clinic to get this wrong!
Anyway enough said... except to say that overall pursuing a label is well worth the effort and money involved in the long run! Especially if handled with tenderness and compassion. If there are indeed 'issues' and 'special needs' they will not just disappear and go away or vanish into thin air, and the reality is that for many not ever! If they have to carry their difficulties into adulthood, they need all the help we can give them when they are young. And sometimes we as parents just cannot go solo and need to access help in order to help our kids.
My advise is therefore...get a label and access help while the road is still relatively easy, you never know when you may desperately need access to more help, which would be easier to access with a label in hand!
May God bless and guide all you wonderful mothers and fathers who parent your precious special kids! May your love be stronger than you ever thought possible, may you have wisdom and patience beyond the normal. May you find refuge daily in our mighty and awesome creator. May you know His tenderness as you walk through the hard times. May you know rejoicing as you enjoy all the precious, tender and happy moments, never taking any of them for granted! Life is full of beauty and wonder and joy, see this in all times and treasure it! Life is too short not to enjoy every moment possible!
PS Here is a good link for some Apserger's checklists, if you hit an advert just go back and try again! http://school.familyeducation.com/learning-disabilities/behavior/56323.html
Don't forget to go to Tony Attwood's Asperger's web site too!