After about 1.5 hours of testing, the doctor told me that my son was too tired to continue and that we would continue again at the next appointment. Then she proceeded to tell me the following:
“I think your son has depression and ADD.”
I said, “Ok, but what about the Asperger traits he shows, how do they fit into this diagnosis?”
She said, “Let me tell you something, Aspergers is a bull shit diagnosis!”
(She was referring to Aspergers in general, not pertaining to my son specifically.)
I responded with, “Yes, I know that Aspergers Disorder will be removed from the DSM in May, but the symptoms are being moved under the Autism Spectrum Category.”
She repeated, “No—Aspergers Disorder is a bull shit diagnosis, it never existed and that’s why it’s leaving the manual!”
Note: According to many News sources, symptoms of Aspergers are suppose to be put under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the DSM 5 in May 2013. Here is what CBS News reported:
The familiar “Asperger’s,” along with some similar disorders, will be lumped together under autism spectrum disorder, “to help more accurately and consistently diagnose children with autism,” the APA said in a statement.So I asked the doctor, “If Aspergers never existed, what do people with Apergers Disorder have? ADD or high functioning autism?
She didn’t respond. So I asked, “What does Temple Grandin have then?”
She paused, appearing stumped and said, “She’s a rare case.”
She then explained that there is no way that my son has autism since she connected with him and he gave her eye contact.
I pointed out that his eye contact is inconsistent and that I have friends of the family that he never looks at when speaking and instead looks to the side of them.
She said that she can tell an autistic child when they come into her office because there is nothing to them. They are a dead end, they can not be helped. They will grow up to face suicide and prison. She then explained that it would be better to have bipolar disorder since with that illness at least you have medication.
At about that time my jaw was on the floor. Did she really say that?
I said, “It’s my understanding that the autism spectrum is very wide and that you can have children that can’t speak on one end and others that are brilliant professors on the other end, for example like Temple Grandin.”
She then said that once kids are diagnosed with Aspergers their parents give up on them and the kids have no future.
Then the doctor went into a rant about the parents in my area who are eager to have their children diagnosed with Autism. “You think it’s premier to have your child diagnosed with autism. Where I’m from it’s a devastation and you should be pissed off if your child was thought to be autistic.”
I explained that in no way was I eager to have my child diagnosed with autism, I just wanted her to look at all the facts and figure out how we could help my son.
I then asked about some of his traits, such as his obsession with one computer game, his long monologs about it, not allowing back and forth conversations, his desire to not play with other kids, his necessity for a rigid schedule with everything occurring at the same time and his preference to eat the same food everyday, along with his sensory issues and OCD traits. I asked, “What are these symptoms of if not Aspergers?” She said, “ADD”.
Then she asked if there were traits when he was little, I said yes. (Even though it was already outlined for her in my provided notes) I explained that he was content to play for hours by himself and that family members recalled it being highly unusual that he wouldn’t play with all the other kids when he was little.
She said looking confused, “Ohh, that does sound like autism.”
Then she appeared to cry and said, “I just felt a connection with your son and I don’t want to diagnose him with autism because it will ruin his life, the label will follow him everywhere.”
Confused I asked, “So you don’t want to diagnose my son with autism because you like him and don’t want to hurt him?”
At this point I felt like the ground was falling underneath me. Wasn’t she the doctor? Wasn’t it her job to remove her emotions and look at the facts and make an assessment based on her education and her experience, not based on the fact that she liked my son?
The conversation continued after this with her appearing to cry several times and then saying that she needed more time to make the assessment. At one point she just looked confused by it all.
I told her to take as much time as she needed and that I would provide her with anything she needed to make the assessment.
Then she leaned over and handed me a post it with her name on it and said, “Now if anyone asks you I want you to tell them that I told you that your son was severely gifted and that’s all.”
I left confused, appalled and extremely disappointed. At this point, how can I trust her assessment?
Her emotions, he preconceived notions about parents in my area, her views on children with autism being a lost cause and her belief that “aspergers kids” don’t exist doesn’t seem like a sound place to evaluate my son.
In the end, I can accept a diagnosis of depression with ADD, but with all that I just experienced, I don’t know if I can accept it from her.
I left with one thought... is this woman a genius and sees what no one else sees, or is she inadequate and I should run the other way?