Thursday, July 14, 2011

Psychiatry, Psychiatry Where's The Common Sense

I am afraid what follows is less instructive and more of a rant...

Well it happened again with the so-called professionals who we turn to, to help the boys. No not the disability director at the college. She is a gem. I am talking about the psychiatrist and psychologists who finalized the boys' testing and who see them for their medications.

If you recall I had an issue a while back, with the psychiatrist because for some reason he keeps trying to get us to stear CM1 towards computer science. Well the child hates computers science, doesn't care how computers work and wants to find a way to make the world a better place. The doctor keeps harping on CM1's anxiety issues and how law school is not the right choice for him. I try to explain to him that there are many configurations on going to law school and not everyone goes to Harvard. That there are even part-time law school programs for the people that work, which might be a fine fit for CM1. Being lawyers ourselves and hubby having worked in the field for almost thirty years, you would think he might give us this one and understand that we are well aware of the rigors of a legal education and the law field.

Honestly I am not even sure that CM1 will go to law school. He wants to change the world and its the closest degree I can think of in order to do that. It opens many doors that would remain close to him without it, whether in the world of politics, civil rights and non-governmental organizations that do worldwide charity. I think CM1 is still hooked on going for a Phd in History though, but that is not going to help him accomplish what he wants to accomplish in his life. So personally we are at an impasse, but thankfully he does have some extra time in college because of the credit fiasco (his credits got messed up so he has to go longer for his BA, no biggie, actually probably better for him in the long run anyway taking a little more time instead of rushing through). So now he and we, have time to figure out his future a little more clearly; help point him in the direction that would make him the happiest.

The issue here, and I think the issue that many in this community face, is that doctors and the so-called professionals (social workers, teachers, therapists) have a set vision of who and what autistic people are supposed to be and your child has to fit into that mold. Heaven forbid you disagree with them. That is some kind of abomination. I had already had this discussion with this man once about CM1 doing what he wants, not doing what the doctor thinks he should do. He did agree with me then. I suppose he forgot. This time however, I am not going to stress about it (apart from writing this post). Last time I went in guns a blazing telling the doctor that we have a huge problem. This time. I will not even worry about it.

Honestly it is not even worth it. The doctor knows his medications and the boys are doing well that way, but as far as lifetime advice... forget about it. CM1 is in my care, not this doctor's. Wise Old Sage and myself will make certain that CM1 will do with his life as he pleases and what brings him the ability to lead a full and happy life. It is important to make sure noone ever tell CM1 that he can't do something too. That has happened before and it killed CM1s desire to follow acting and art. He takes to heart when an authority figure tells him he can't do something. I just hope I can make him see that he is the one who decides his future and not someone else no matter who they happen to be (well except maybe us, his parents).

Still it never fails to amaze me how the psychiatric community decides based upon a disability what and who a person is supposed to be. I understand now why so many adults are loathe to go and get that diagnosis. Its as if someone out there with a degree and a few more extra years of school, is going to tell them that they are inferior human beings and cannot do what they find to be fulfilling because of a neurological imbalance. I still don't understand why instead of telling you what your child can't do, why don't the doctors tell you here is the issue, lets brainstorm ways to help your child do what he wants to do with his life. Why is that so hard?

What are they afraid of? Are they afraid that in the end the thing you get rid of is them? Are they afraid that they are not the all knowing gurus that they think they are? Are they afraid that quite frankly you will find the answer somewhere else and their magical aura will dissipate? Are they afraid that they will loose their own sense of self-importance and self-worth? Truthfully I don't care. Their own psychological issues are not my concern. My concern is that these people can turn your world upside down and inside out and they don't give a crap. They think that a Phd or a Medical degree gives them the license to fuck with your world. Hubby happened to mention after the latest incident... what if we were the type of parents who took to heart everything these professionals said. We would be upending our children's future to fit them into a box that they do not fit into merely because someone with a psychology degree has decried it so. These people really better have a better handle on how they screw with people's futures.

Another issue: the psychologist who did the boys' retesting last spring. They officially diagnosed CM1 as having an anxiety disorder separate and part from the aspergers. OK, not something I didn't know already and in fact the retesting just showed the same things we had already known since he was a little boy. But again, they spent the better part of an hour or two telling me how he cannot go to law school and that he should go work for a think tank or archive because of his love of history. Excuse me, you want to take my brilliant child and put him in a basement somewhere looking at old documents instead of finding a way for him to go to graduate school and help people like he wants to. Law school is too hard for him from a psychological point of view they said. Oh he could do it intellectually they tell me, and he would make a good effort at it, because its what he does, but its not the best thing for him. Plus, his psychologist agreed they said.

Excuse me. How nice again people who have only met my child for a few hours have once again decided his future. They know best. They are infallible. Now I was pissed at the psychologist because I really don't like being end-runned when it comes to my children. But we took care of that on our own. He later told me that they took it wrong, but that he is concerned about my son's level of anxiety. Like we are not. We just don't give a hoot about this child, right? You would think that they think we are all morons and have no idea about the child right in front of us. Yes, my mother calmed me down reminding me about the parents I complain about from the special education meetings and how clueless they are. I should remember that these psychologists need to treat everyone like these parental idiots or they will not be doing their job. (Mom said it more elegantly than that, but this was the gist of the talk.)

As an aside, when I saw the director of the therapy group she happened to tell me that it is not easy to get accommodations for the LSATs and infact one of their clients is suing the LSAT company because of other words, CM1 will have to take the test without accommodations most likely. OK now tell me something I did not already know...She then tried to tell me about the blind youngman who is suing because they didn't even give him enough accommodations. It's a case in Michigan. Of course I had already heard about it and then talked with her about it too. You know, there really does come a time when they need to recognize you are not one of the idiot parents.

Now as far as how I dealt with the idea that CM1 was going to sit in a basement wasting his life away playing with archived documents because of an anxiety and social disability. I went to the head of the therapy center and basically told her that they don't get to decide who my child is and they do not get to decide that he is not capable of doing something based upon a disability. The issue is to find a solution so he can do what he wants. I must have come off really angry because when the testing for CM2 was done, the director met with me about it without the psychologist who did the testing being in the meeting. I think they were afraid to have us in the same room. They knew she would have gotten apiece of my mind for certain.

So I go into the meeting and lo and behold CM2s testing is very similar to CM1s. Hhhmm... Except that CM2 has a learning disability not otherwise specified and no overriding anxiety issue other than what is associated with aspergers. Yet somehow, these two very dissimilar boys are now almost exactly alike. In fact their IQs or what passes for IQ in today's world are almost identical. I personally found that very odd, especially since CM2s triennial testing in school had him at a genius level IQ and now he fell over 30 points? Throughout school my youngest had very typical aspergean readings, extraordinary IQ with alot of underlying issues. Now all of a sudden his entire IQ is on a much different and lower functioning level?

Listen, its not the IQ number that is important, but it did seem rather odd to me that all of a sudden the boys were almost entirely similar including those IQs. I actually sent the school testing to the director and asked to talk to her about it. I never heard from her. Weeks went by and I never heard from her. Finally I called her and asked her about the discrepancy. She actually told me that the testing for highschool was at a different level and they used the adult level testing so that made the difference. Excuse Me?  Tests are supposed to be geared toward age appropriate levels so there should not be that huge a discrepancy going from one age level to the next. A few points here and there I could understand, not thirty. So either the school was incompetent or they were incompetent. Somehow I knew it wasn't gong to be them.  Actually I am not even sure that anyone was incompetent. Why?

What I think this points out quite frankly is the fallibility of psychological testing. I do not know anyone who can drop thirty points in their IQ and not have had some major brain injury. As much as I think CM2 can be a pain in the ass and his brain is haywire, it is because he is a teen, not because he had a large object fall  on his head. There could have been any number of reasons that there was such a discrepancy in CM2s testing and not least of which is that he didn't want to be there and didn't want to cooperate. He may not even have tried his best to give the right answers, who knows, he likes doing silly things at the most inappropriate times to make some kind of joke too. Maybe he thought that it was just one giant joke. Of course that should have been recognized and somehow it should have been noted. But again that is why psychological testing is so unreliable at times.

This is another reason why I tell parents that it is important for you to think for yourselves when it comes to your children. Whether it was the original doctors telling us that they had no idea what would happen for CM1 when he was five, but hinting at the reality of him being placed in an institution one day; to the doctors today not dealing with the fact that CM1 does not want to work with computers; or that they can't figure out what CM2's real IQ happens to be, those in the psychology field, know squat. I mean how many years did it take for someone to really know what they were looking at when it came to your child in the first place? There are even those among us, who they can't figure out how to help because they can't put an exact diagnosis on the issues.

Just as another example from my personal archives. Here is one of my absolute favorites in discussing the inadequacy of psychologists vis-a-vis my children....When CM1 was three before he was even close to being diagnosed with autism, a psychologist tested him and told me he had hyperlexia. Today I know that he was hyperlexic. But the problem was that he understood what he read and that he understood the world around him. In showing me that he didn't know what he read, the psychologist took out book after book (at least three or four) until she found a word he didn't recognize and then went "Seee!" I said to her that he does understand what he reads, she told me not really that his reading is like a "monkey doing a trick." I kid you not, she really called him a monkey. I think at that point I picked up CM1 and walked out of her office and then called the pediatrician who sent me to this moron. Oh you don't forget things like this, even if it was almost 20 years ago.

Listen, I do not really mean to disparage the psychiatric field.They do understand the basics of human nature and depending on the person and the issues, they do have alot to offer when it comes to your children or even yourselves. The problem becomes when they don't listen to you and don't have the ability to understand that they do not know everything and that they are as fallible as the rest of us. Psychologists need to remove themselves from their comfort zone and recognize that a person has a right to be what they want to be and they do not have the right to define someone by a disability. Our children and some of us as well, are quite capable of being anything we want to be, if given the right supports and the right societal understanding. Of course that understanding has to start with those that we count on for medical advice and help. Sadly however, at times, it is the rigidity of the psychiatric community that can be one of  the biggest problems we have to face. Maybe those in the psychiatry field should seek therapy, afterall that is how they could learn to understand themselves and deal with their problems. If its good enough for all of us. It should be good enough for all of them.

OK, this rant is now over...thanks for listening.

Until next time,