Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yes? No? Maybe?

So....yeah, I suck.

But, y'all, I have been SO busy. Since I last posted Punkin has turned five, I've been going to boot camp two nights a week, and we go to church on Wednesday nights. Nobody reads blogs on Friday (so they say) and my weekends have all of sudden been consumed by College Football (woot!), birthday parties, and sleepovers.

Also, there's been a lot of stuff brewing in my head and when that happens I find that it becomes harder and harder to just sit down and write. In part because I'm still struggling to define my thoughts about this issue and in part because it will be nearly impossible to convey the wild swings my brain takes whenever I start to think about this. But, the only way through it is to do it, so here goes.

Y'all remember the whole saga about the Autism specialist to whom Punkin was referred, right? That's a lot of links, so if you don't feel like reading it I'll sum it up for you:
  • daughter was referred to Autism specialist at 4 year well visit, though to be high functioning Asperger's
  • called Specialist and found out there was a lengthy wait AND they don't take our insurance. Cost: $350. High but do-able. Began wait for appointment.
  • 9 months later, called by Specialist. Daughter's behavior had vastly improved so we weren't sure what to do.
  • Interwebs (and gut) said we should take the appointment just to see what they had to say.
  • Found out that testing had increased to $1400 and they still didn't take our insurance. The cost plus our feeling that she was "okay" caused us to decline our appointment.
Fast forward another several months. Punkin's behavior continues to improve, though she still has issues with being extremely shy and still occasionally prone to meltdowns. However, at her 5 year well visit, her pediatrician followed up with us in regards to last year's referral. I confidently explained that I didn't think Asperger's was her problem and that we had declined the appointment.

At this point he asked me about a gazillion questions regarding her behavior and by the end of the questioning, somehow, I was again concerned that she DID have Asperger's. The pediatrician's main concern was what he called her "lack of warm fuzzy feelings about her peers."

I immediately thought of all the times Punkin has come home saying "No one will play with me on the playground" or "My friends don't like me." In her 5 short years, this has happened more than you'd think. I've also noticed that while she's friendlier than she used to be to kids she encounters on playgrounds, etc., she doesn't actually play with these kids as much as she plays beside them. For those of you unfamiliar, children with Asperger's often have difficulty with social relationships because they don't know how to read facial expressions and social cues.

Is it Asperger's or is she just shy?

I asked her parapro what happens on the playground and she said that Punkin would come up to her and complain that it was too hot, that she didn't feel like playing.

Was it really too hot or did Punkin just not know how to navigate the social jungle that is the playground?

Then, last week Punkin got a "card pulled" at school for yelling at a little boy. I followed up with her teacher to see what had precipitated the yelling. Punkin was playing a game with a little boy and he wasn't following the rules. Punkin got very upset and yelled at him. More than once. Children with Asperger's are big rule followers and tend to get very agitated if others aren't doing what they're supposed to do.

Is it Asperger's or is she just a rule follower like her mom?

The truth of the matter is, I don't know. But I've spoken with her teachers and we have an appointment with the Assistant Principal, Punkin's teacher, and the School Psychologist next Tuesday to begin the process of having her evaluated. I'm going into this meeting feeling very confused because honestly, I don't know the answer to any of my questions above. And, if my conversation with Mir the other day is any indication, we may not really know anything after the evaluation because it is sometimes difficult to determine at this age what is Asperger's and what is just "being a 5 year old."

There are some (hi, mom!) who wonder why I'm doing this at all. Heck, even I sometimes wonder it, especially when I see my little girl smiling and telling jokes and acting goofy. But there are also other times when I feel like she is unhappy. That there is a social aspect missing from her life. So, I'm doing this because I want to do what's best for my child. I want her to be the best Punkin she can be and I want her to be her most confident self.

So, we have her evaluated. If there's nothing "wrong," we've lost nothing. If it turns out she does have Asperger's, well, then we'll go from there. But at least we'll know.


AndreAnna said...

I wish I had some magic advice on this but you know your children best. You also know in your gut when something is "off."

Trust yourself; I think far too often we fail to really listen to our gut. Or we do, but we placate or convince it with logic. And sometimes that's not good.

for a different kind of girl said...

Honestly, I wish I had fantastic advice for you, but I haven't dealt with situations like this directly (I have a niece with similar characteristics), so I'm not a font of info in this regard. However, I will say that I think you're doing the right thing in having the meeting and, if it is something that seems necessary, then taking the next steps. You know your child better than anyone, and like AndreAnna said above, if you don't squelsh the feelings in your gut, you'll forever do some second guessing that will stress you out.

Leslie said...

I understand. I know you've witnessed plenty of Little Brother's meltdowns and sometimes odd behavior. I hope the evaluation will give you some answers. Please know, though, that you are a good mother and Punkin is a fabulous little person. It will be okay.

Kristy Dixon said...

Poor darlin'. :-( I think (and I'm not a mama, so I don't have any experience with such a thing) that you are doing just what a good parent does. I second the "go with your gut" statement. You can tell what's up with your kid more than a doctor or the internetz or anyone else can. You're such a good mama! Many hugs.

Katie said...

I'm with AndreAnna: listen to your gut feelings. You're her mama. I think asking the school to evaluate her is a good first step, but never lose sight of what YOU think. And yes, it's more than okay to say you have no idea what you think! Hugs and happy thoughts being sent your way...

Lylah at Write. Edit. Repeat. said...

Why are you doing this at all? Because you're her mom, and you love her. Because it's your job to help her collect all of the tools and skills she needs to navigate life, and figuring out what/if/why there's an issue know if part of that.


Lauren said...

This is so hard, and honestly I don't know what to tell you, except to trust your instincts about her..and if you have someone (doctor, specialist, etc.) going against what you think is right for her, trust yourself!

And good for you for exploring all the options! That can't be easy.

Mir said...

You're doing fine. She will be fine. :)

Burgh Baby said...

You are doing a fantastic job. No harm in opening a few doors just to make sure what's behind them has everything needed.

Laurel said...

You and I are riding similar rollercoasters. At present, I am having Griff evaluted for ADD. Not that I want to "blame" his sometimes poor behavior on that, but at the same time I don't want to be one of those moms that, if there is a problem, buries her head in the sand and pretends it isn't there. It is such a balancing act. Not easy, and I think you are doing a grand job. High fives from me!