Friday, February 23, 2007


DH and I took DS1 to a developmental pediatrician for a second opinion on his Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis which was delivered a couple of weeks ago.

The bad: The doctor's office is way north, up off Cave Creek Rd, and it took us about an hour to get there.

The good: everything else.

I loved the doctor's demeanor and the way he spoke to us and to DS1. I liked the way he managed the appointment. I appreciated the way his simple assessment tests revealed DS1's strengths and weaknesses.

The bottom line is that DS1 has some delays in his expressive language, which is not something I was willing to admit before, but with the tests the doctor administered, became obvious. The school-administered tests showed the same deficiencies, but I frankly didn't believe it, because I didn't see the test itself and DS1's answers, I just saw the assessments. The kid has a tremendous fluency with language in almost all situations. But now I see that there are some areas where he just isn't where he should be, especially considering how well he does in the other areas.

We reviewed a lot of material, and it was profoundly relieving to hear the doctor say that we were already doing 99% of what should be done to help our boy. We were also happy to hear that he would get better as he gets older, even though we have already been seeing that for ourselves all along. The school's psychologist had said that DS1 wouldn't really grow out of this, and I can see her point: he's always going to have these traits. But that doesn't mean he won't be able to learn coping techniques and ways to compensate for the things he just doesn't have a natural ability for. He's not doomed, not at all, especially given how well he's doing now.

99%, I think, that's pretty good. This doctor feels that the labels -- Asperger's Syndrome vs Asperger's tendencies -- are meaningless because the treatment is the same. I agree, but at the same time I can see that if the label had been there earlier, maybe DH wouldn't have been so resistant to some of the things I was trying to get him to read! It's water under the bridge now, and we've always wanted the same thing, anyway -- the best life for DS1.

At the end of our time, the doctor appointed himself our consultant, and gave us some resources to look into. He only wants to see DS1 a few times a year to monitor his progress, but doesn't feel as if he needs to implement some big complicated plan: he agrees with what we're doing now, with only a few additions.

It's such a relief, on so many levels. I'm feeling so positive about this that part of me is countering with skepticism: Am I reacting this way, agreeing with everything, because this doctor is telling me what I want to hear? But I know that's not it at all, because the doctor most assuredly told us that DS1 does have some delays (not to the extent of needing formal therapy, and most likely not to the extent that insurance would cover anything we decide to do for them), and that he would need a lot of help and protection navigating through middle school and junior high. That's not easy to hear, over and over: you've got to protect him, but I can see that it's true. But I'm still very relieved and optimistic about the future: we know better now where the troubles are, or where they could be, and we are working on a plan to address them.

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