Actually, to say that we've been waiting is a little misleading. They had told us there was a lengthy wait, but 9 months seems a little excessive to me. If we had been desperately seeking help I think we would have sought help elsewhere by now. Or given up.
But what's actually happened is that we sort of forgot about it. Oh, now and then it would cross my mind and I'd wonder if they lost our paperwork or if they were ever going to call. But I wasn't really worried about it because in the last 9 months a lot of things have changed and I no longer feel that we need to see them.
I'm going to try to say what I'm about to say very delicately in the hopes that I don't piss anybody off. I don't think that every child who is "quirky" or "has issues" has autism and/or aspergers. DON'T GET ME WRONG -- I'm not saying that they don't exist. They do.
And believe me, I don't think I'm blinding myself to the truth about my child. She has issues, yes. She's shy, for sure. Impulsive, yes. Immature, most definitely. But I honestly believe that most of her issues stem from her strong will and her immaturity.
However, in the last 9 months we have seen huge improvements in Punkin's behavior. She's so much more social than she used to be. She actually makes friendly overtures to other children now. In the past this would have been unheard of. She doesn't have the "transition freakouts" she used to have.
I was emailing with my new internet friend Jodifur the other day. I had just found her blog and she seemed to be dealing with some similar behavior issues with her son that we had with Punkin. In the course of our "conversation" I mentioned that we probably weren't going to take our referral appointment if or when the specialist ever called and she asked me why. And I couldn't really articulate my reasons other than to say that I didn't think we needed it. And then she asked me about the services we might qualify for if we took the appointment, a fair question, though I was a little ignorant of just exactly what those services might be.
But I've been thinking about her questions ever since and I'm going to be gut-bustingly honest in my answer. We live in a small, very rural county without a lot of money in the school system (though the teachers we've had so far have been awesome). I've been in the school where she'll be next year. And the majority of the students who receive services are students with very different needs than any that Punkin might have. And frankly, I worry that the label she will have applied to her at the age of 4 might do her more harm in the long run than any benefit she might receive. Is that ignorant of me? I don't think so.
Because the other reason we won't take this appointment? My gut. My gut tells me that Asperger's is not Punkin's problem. Our pediatrician based his recommendation after seeing Punkin a total of approximately 15 times in her 4 years (including sick and well visits), never for more than 15 minutes at a time. While I trust his judgement, I don't necessarily think he gets the real Punkin. To be honest, I think at the time I wanted her to be diagnosed with something because I was at the end of my rope and I didn't know what to do about her anymore and a diagnosis would mean some sort of treatment, something, that might bring us some relief, so I think I unconsciously played up the "problems" to some degree. In our case, it turns out that all we needed was time.
I've consulted with the other people in Punkin's life -- her teachers, etc. -- to get their opinions as well and I'm happy to say that they agree with me.
So, no, we won't be taking that appointment. And that just makes room for an appointment with someone who really needs it.