Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Psychiatric Showdown, Not Quite the OK Corral

I finally had that talk with the new psychiatrist about collegeman. He had implied in all of our meetings that collegeman could not pursue the education he wanted because of his autism. Whether it was telling me how law school is too social for collegeman or that he should really seek a job in computers where he wouldn’t have too much social interactions, the doctor seemed to be pushing my child away from his dreams. Luckily he had not said any of this to collegeman. My son is the type that if he had any quandaries about what he was doing then a person with authority telling him that he can’t do something would set him off his path. The question for me was how to get the doctor to understand that his paradigm is not acceptable to us where our children are concerned. If you have learned anything about us from reading this blog you would know that the one thing that hubby and I do not hold to is the fact that our children would not be allowed to do something that they would find fulfilling because someone, somewhere decided that because they had autism, that that precluded them from following their dreams. At the same extent we are also of the mindset that having autism does not give the boys a free pass either. It is not one or the other you see. These concepts are just different sides of the same coin.

I tried to be very non-confrontational, ok for me it was non-confrontational; truthfully I have to say that I was a little nervous. You bet I stayed awake at night for weeks trying to figure out how to discuss this issue with the doctor without burning any bridges with the psychiatrist. I tend to act more like the Earps at the OK Corral where my children are concerned rather than a seasoned diplomat. 

Honestly apart from the job issue this new doctor has been wonderful for both boys. He did hit upon the right medicinal cocktail for HSB and changed up things for collegeman as well. HSB has just had the best report card ever (4 As, 1 B and a C in history, but that C kind-a wasn’t HSB’s fault, well sort of) and collegeman has been outgoing, jocular and even has taken to hugging me when he likes what I am making for dinner. He has even let me kiss him on the forehead from time to time, when he is sitting and watching his videos. So I wanted to get my point across without pissing off the doctor.

Lucky for us this doctor is definitely even keeled. I did say how wonderful things have been for the boys but that we were concerned about some of the things he had said and that we needed him to understand our position when it comes to the boys. I told him that we reject the old paradigm that says that the boys have to be geared toward computers or non-social jobs. If it is collegeman’s desire to go to law school then we are going to find a way to make that happen. (It isn’t that the school will bend to collegeman as much as we think that collegeman will need to learn to function properly in law school. )

I also told him that I also have had discussions with the career counselor at school to discover what other options are available for collegeman with his interests. If law school is the way to go for him, as opposed to a PhD in history, then that is what he is going to do. But since hubby and I exist in our own little sphere and acknowledge that we don’t know all that is available to collegeman, perhaps she could come up with some ideas. But we want some direction that would end up in a job. An expensive education that would land him a job as a cashier at McDonald’s really is not a worthwhile endeavor either. I continued to explain to the psychiatrist that collegeman is talking to the career counselor and they have had several meetings about his interests and his future already. It is not something that has to happen ASAP, just before next summer when he has to decide whether he is going to study for the LSATs or the GREs. I also mentioned to the counselor that in the meantime if she could help find a summer position that would be the icing on the cake.

Collegeman has had several jobs and absolutely loves to work. She was quite nice and even happy that I explained to her what our goals were for collegeman. I am sure that most parents do not call her and I told her that I was trying to avoid calling, but that I wanted to make sure that everyone was on the same page as far as he was concerned. No point in wasting everyone’s time. Having already had had the heads-up from the disability director about collegeman’s issues, she didn’t mind the phone call and welcomed the direction and a little more explanation about him. I have found through my interactions with most of the people at collegeman’s school that if something is not going well its not for a lack of trying on their part but more from a lack of understanding. (OK except for the Dean of the Drama school and that one art teacher, but no place is perfect.) As with most everyone at his school, she was quite pleasant.

Anyway, back to the psychiatrist…. he actually became rather apologetic. He said that he didn’t mean it the way I took it. Honestly, perhaps he didn’t but it doesn’t matter now anyway. He understands not to tell collegeman he can’t do something if that is what collegeman wants to do. We did discuss some plans for collegeman and what will be happening in the next semester. I told him about the upcoming meeting with the disability director to see just what is going on in the classroom with collegeman and how to make him more independent. You know the need to facilitate those little pesky necessary executive functioning skills needed for life. So we will establish a plan for collegeman and then we will see how it goes.

The psychiatrist also mentioned that we are not really doing anything different than what any parent needs to do for their child. Any parent needs to understand who their child is and help push them in a direction that will make them happy. I have to tell you, I really like that. He did mention that there are so many avenues of law that there has to be one that collegeman can find that suits his personality that he doesn’t have to be one that goes into court. I said being lawyers we know that, except the thing that collegeman wanted to do was to work in the prosecutor’s office or for The Innocence Project.  (Psychiatrist got a really quizzical look at that point.) I said that collegeman being collegeman if that is what he ends up doing then he will find a way to function. But the truth is there are wonderful appellate lawyers who research and write briefs that change the direction of law and add to the civil rights in our society. There is much that collegeman can do if he wants to change the world, we just need to find out where his path will take him, that is all.

The psychiatrist did mention that we do need to have several plans in place for collegeman. That I already know…Plan A doesn’t always work with this child and Plan B sometimes doesn’t come to fruition either. You always have to have several more Plans and directions just in case. But I also told the psychiatrist that we can’t make a plan dependent upon who collegeman is today. He is so different today than he was a year ago that who knows how he will be next year at this time or when he graduates from college. We need to allow him to pursue his goals and plan for that as his future. Meanwhile we will also be realistic. Its not that collegeman will not be ready for graduate school, but rather who says he will be accepted into graduate school? Stranger things have happened to people. (Of course any graduate school that would not take collegeman, is not run by very smart people in my opinion anyway) So we will plan and we shall see what the future holds.

In the meantime, the psychiatrist understands us; how we think and how we approach our children. This is a very good thing in my book. The doctor needs to respect you as the child’s parent. The doctor needs to understand that you may not always agree with them about your child, and the doctor needs to understand that when you reject their advice it isn’t personal. This I like. This psychiatrist just moved up quite a number of notches on my ladder of respect. I actually slept a little easier last night…onto the next issue…. that C in HSB’s history class… not good, not like him at all. History was the one class that came easy as pie to HSB. Need to figure out what actually happened (OK did have a talk with the teacher and his case manager already) and make sure he, and all his support, is on track the way it should all be too.

Nope, it never ends.

Until next time,