You are the parent and you know you’ve got a problem with your kid. But different people tell you different things. You’re not sure which diagnosis is correct for your child. What’s a parent to do? The answer is: Keep searching till you have the right diagnosis! How will you know it’s the right diagnosis? You will have a clarity about it, and the treatments prescribed for your child will begin to work.
In our family, our son was developing in a unique way. We knew he was different from his peers at an early age. He had spectacular language skills, but was emotionally very immature. He melted down at small, simple, normal things. His easy frustration and rigidity had his preschool teachers calling us in for conferences to see how we could help him at school. Diagnoses started to fly! Could it be anger management problems (look up The Explosive Child) ? Could it be ADHD?
(To tell this next story I need to use my son’s name, but since his privacy is important to me I’m using a different name) In kindergarten, his teacher took me aside, “Oh Mrs. G., I just wanted you to know in my 25 years of teaching I have seen 4 students like John…..(long pause) ….. and John has been the most ….. John of all of them.” What was the teacher saying?? Was she saying my kid is the worst kid she’s seen in 25 years? Well, that’s not very encouraging, but it did push me willingly onto “diagnosis road”.
First grade teacher “Can you take him to an OT? I think he may have Sensory Integration Disorder.”
First grade developmental pediatician “He certainly is smart, but this may be a Pragmatic Language Disorder? He needs to be in Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking Program.”
First grade school psychologist “His test scores indicate it may be Autism.”
First grade private psychiatrist “This is Bi-polar, and these are the medicines you need to put him on.”
Second grade teacher “Is this Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? He needs to have everything the same and can’t deviate from his routine.”
Second grade school counselor “He has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). You need to send him away. There is a woman in Colorado who treats kids like this. She will hold him for 6 months and re-parent him.” My eyes glazed over with this one! Was this counselor insane? Really? That’s what abandoned kids in orphanages in Russia get, with no one to touch them or hold them all day. And what was my son reacting to? He comes from an intact family, he was a planned pregnancy, I stayed home with him, and I breastfed him past a year. I threw that diagnosis away immediately. I called for the removal of that counselor from that school. In an ironic twist, we left the school and the counselor stayed.
Third grade school psychologist (new school) “Emotional Disturbance or Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and we need to put him in a special day class, with other kids with ED.” Really? He’s been in a regular class since Kindergarten. I think we’ll take a pass on the SDC, and try our neighborhood school. Thank you very much.
Third grade teacher “Gifted but bored“ (look up Kids in the Syndrome mix.)
Fourth grade school psychologist “Anxiety. And actually the school does not give an IEP for Anxiety, so we’ll be exiting him from Special Ed. now. Bye bye.” What? O.M.G. We went to the director of Special Ed and in 6 weeks he was back on his IEP. (Sometimes I just want to smack school psychologists!)
Fourth grade independent psychologist, speech-language pathologist and educational specialist “This is Aspergers Syndrome, a developmental disorder related to autism and characterized by higher-than-average intellectual ability coupled with impaired social skills and restrictive, repetitive patterns of interest and activities.”
HOORAY! You’ve arrived at your destination on diagnosis road! Congratulations on finding the right diagnosis for your child! It only took 6 years and 13 different diagnoses!
Parents – you know your child best. On “diagnosis road” you must keep going if you haven’t arrived at the right answer yet. Other suggestions are:
- Read. Books, and also the internet, abounds with parents like you looking for answers.
- Talk to other parents.
- Talk to other professionals.
- Keep records of your experience. When your “puzzle pieces” start to fit, the picture will be come more clear.
- Try different therapy ideas and see what works.
- Never give up. The answer is out there. You will find it.
You must be your child’s advocate. Keep looking until you find the right answer. You can do it! I salute you and cheer you on! You will find the right answers for your child and your family!