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The Loony Bin

March 28, 2012

So here it is…

Andrew completed his Frasier testing.  It was awkward to bring him because I haven’t been as upfront with him as I could have been.  He has known my concerns, but my fear of hurting him or contributing to his low self-esteem led me to talk around the issue instead of being direct.

Andrew met with a therapist for over 2 hours to do standardized story-telling tests, etc.  I’m not sure of everything that she did with him, though she shared the highlights at the end.  During that time, I met with a psychologist who questioned me for the same amount of time.  The whole testing period as I was being asked to describe his early childhood and his behaviors now, I kept thinking “maybe I’m wrong.  I bet the evaluation of Andrew will show him to be completely normal and they will just tell me that I need help.”  I developed some anxiety over this and even came up with a plan in my mind of what I was going to say when she told me this.

The testing ended, and Andrew and I were sent back out to the waiting room while the two therapists discussed the evaluations and came up with or … without a diagnosis.  It felt like we waited for hours, but in truth it was only a half an hour.  I was called back while Andrew continued to wait. I sat down at a conference table with both therapists facing me.  Andrew’s evaluator began.  I instantly liked her because she was kind, but very honest.

1.  Andrew was unable to figure out in the story-telling exercises about emotions what other people’s intent was.  Apparently, these stories are designed for kids to be able to figure out the … next step, or describe the emotions of specific characters.  He just couldn’t.  Beyond that, he simply said to her “I don’t see what the point of this whole story is.  I don’t understand the intent of this person.”  He was confused and couldn’t drop the topic.

2.  She asked him about his family.  Her first comment to me was “I have no idea how many children you have or what their interests might be.”  Andrew basically told her that he has a mom and dad and siblings and “4 cats”.  He went on to describe our cats in detail (particularly Pumpkin … the stray we adopted this past year who has taken to Andrew and follows him everywhere.  She sits on his shoulders when he walks and will run across the room to him when he walks in.).  She tried to engage him in a conversation: “I really like pets too.  I have pets in my house.”  She made some facial gestures to try to get him to ask her what pets she had.  Nothing.  She tried several cues that failed and so she said “but I don’t have cats.”  Andrew finally replied, “you must have dogs.”  She said “No.  I don’t have dogs, I have other pets….”  She really tried.  Nothing.

The PhD psychologist spoke up and said that based on the evaluations he has a definitive diagnosis of Aspergers.  I don’t know the level/severity of this right now and I won’t until I get the report.  He has been put on a waiting list for a social skills group and will need to get into the autism clinic here.

I asked them to help me tell him and so they did.  His evaluator was compassionate and honest with him.  After she told him the diagnosis and explained it to him she asked him if he had any questions about what she had just said.

“One question.  What was the intent of that character in the story?  I just don’t get it.”

:(

I want to feel something, but right now I think I’m emotionally shut down.  This is one of the reasons that my blogging has been so sporadic.  I’ve been struggling.  I’ve decided that I really need to stop trying to gloss over things and maybe shoot from the hip about what it is really like to raise children.  I know that I feel isolated a lot because other moms all seem to have it together.  I’ve learned that as I dig deeper, I discover that they have their struggles too, but I don’t feel able to share my experiences and reach out to other moms most of the time. I’m afraid of their judgment.  It’s probably because in the past, I have judged.  I have looked at a mom with children misbehaving and have thought she should get it together.  I’ve known moms with teenagers who were out-of-control and I’ve secretly snarked “wow, you must be a bad mom”.  Now .. here I am….that mom…the one with a child on the autism spectrum and with a teenage daughter who is seemingly out-of control right now (more on that later).  Despite my best efforts to love my children enough, provide caring and supportive discipline, to be the best that I can be, there are struggles.  It’s so eye opening to me …. this means that other moms who have teenagers battling depression, being rebellious, or who are on the spectrum of some disorder have worked their hardest too.  It means I’m a jackass, really.  I want to believe that I haven’t judged because I’ve got a mean streak, but because I came up with my own ideas about mothering and I had to believe that they were the ‘right’ and ‘best’ way to do things…and I had to cling to my beliefs because the job of mothering is so important and I didn’t want to make a mistake.  I believed that if I did things the ‘right’ way, then nothing bad would happen.  I read, I researched, and I followed the mothering journey armed with a smug belief that I was doing the best thing for my children.  I had to believe this, or the self-doubt became overwhelming.

Now, I’m sitting back and realizing that this is what every mom does to get through.  Most of us really are doing the best that we can to meet the needs of our family…all of us a little differently, but with the best intentions in our hearts.  We can’t control our children’s biology, or their experiences once they are old enough to head off to school.  Shock:  I’m not the master puppeteer.  I thought I was, but I’m not.  At best, I’m just the guide on their own life’s journey.

  1. Lately, conversations with my kid have gone a lot like this: we’ve done our best to raise you and in two years tops, I’m going to medical school. That means you have a max two years to get your $hit together consistently or you’re going to be pretty much on your own trying to fix it. ”

    Kris, there’s NO DOUBT in my mind that you’ve don’t the absolutely best you can under circumstances with raising your kids, supporting your family, which required that you put your own dreams on hold. And that’s commendable. But I think there comes a point in every Mom’s life where you just have to have faith in all you’ve done because its impossible for us to live their lives for them.In other words, NONE of us are the master puppeteers we wish we could be.

    BIG HUG!!!

    Comment by Path201X — March 28, 2012 @ 7:58 pm
  2. And good luck with the new gig and new goals!!!

    Comment by Path201X — March 28, 2012 @ 7:58 pm
  3. Thanks, Path. It’s really tough, isn’t it? I wish I could let go a little, but I feel like I have to do everything I can to keep steering the ship.

    Oh … and why two years? You need to get those applications in ASAP!

    Kris

    Comment by ~me~ — April 1, 2012 @ 8:30 am
  4. Hey Kris, I’m working in my apps as we speak, I only speak of two years because at that point, my kid will be in college!! Woo-hoo!!!!!

    Comment by Path201X — April 3, 2012 @ 9:43 am

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