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OTHER ITA SITES:
Apserger's Our Story - Finally A Diagnosis
This is the final part of a 3 part story about our Asperger's story. We had recently commenced seeing a Counsellor as we could not understand Jess' behaviour.
The counsellor recommended that we see a Psychologist that she had a lot of time for. He specialised in a treatment called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. The therapy is based around helping you understand, manage and change your thoughts (cognitions) and actions (behaviour). This form of therapy has been shown to be very effective for a whole range of things but is particularly effective if you have depression or anxiety. As Jess had been diagnosed with depression it was thought that this might help.
Again this didn't seem to be doing any good. Jess was uncooperative, it was costing a fortune and seemed little use when Jess wouldn't do the "homework" he asked her to complete. Our final visit took place after an incident occurred which caused her to go into "meltdown" and run away. This happened at 6 pm one evening and we weren't able to find her until 10 pm that night. We were all out looking for her including a policeman neighbour and his sister and Jess' grandmother. We finally found her when she sent a text message through to Matt - her brother. It was a very scary evening. This happened on a Thursday night and we were booked to see the Psychologist on the following Saturday. He took it very seriously and said that he suspected that she had a condition called Asperger's Disorder. We had never heard of it. Over the next few days however, we certainly found out a lot about it and so many things started to make sense. Coincidentally, the night she ran away, the sister of the policeman next door who was helping us look for her said to us "she's autistic isn't she." I felt quite insulted and said that she wasn't. Anne the neighbour taught autistic children at a special school so knew what she was talking about. In 2 days we had 2 different people suggest that this was what it was.
How did we feel? Shocked, confused but most of all relieved that we finally had a diagnosis. The older Jess got, the more apparent it was that something was wrong. It was much better to know what we were dealing with even though there is no cure.
We went back to our Doctor who have us a referral to see a Psychiatrist who specialised in children and adolescents. He said that Asperger's is hard to diagnose and not to expect a diagnosis until he had met with her 2 or 3 times. We didn't know whether it was good or bad that he was able to give us a diagnosis almost immediately. We were still feeling rather shell shocked but also had that feeling of relief that we know what it was. It wasn't just bad parenting and she wasn't just a severely difficult child - well she was but at least there was a reason for it.
As puberty hit, things got worse to a large degree in that the melt-downs became more frequent, she still wouldn't do homework which was more important in her high school years and she and her brother who had always got on well suddenly seemed to fight like cat and dog. Matt didn't take her diagnosis well and thought - actually still does think that we favour her. This is not the case. We were nervous of prompting a melt-down.
Three years after her diagnosis things are improving. Jess is an exceptionally bright young lady. Her intelligence is both a blessing and a curse. The curse is that she can be very manipulative and we started to realise that we were being manipulated when she didn't want to do something. The difficulty for us has been distinguishing between normal anti-social adolescent behaviour, manipulative behaviour and Asperger's behaviour. What we have started to do more successfully in the last few months is treat her as a normal teenage girl rather than wrap her in cotton wool As she is a self-contained individual, she appears to appreciate this and is far more respectful in her behaviour as a result.
Jess will always be different and dance to her own tune but what causes her to be different also causes her to be special and so unique. She has a huge amount to offer with her distinctive way of looking at things and her ferocious intelligence.
She has settled enormously in the last month or so and the only thing we can attribute this major change to is taking the USANA Bodyrox and Omega-3. She has energy, focus, colour in her cheeks (missing for so long) and seems to have found enjoyment in life. Her Grandmother was able to persuade her to take these mainly because of concern about her poor diet. Like a lot of Asperger's sufferers, Jess is extremely fussy about what she eats and objects to eating fruit and vegetables and almost anything which has some nutritional value. We have turned ourselves inside out trying to persuade her to eat well so this is an answer to a prayer. If anyone else out there is worried about their child's diet, please click on the link and give it a try. For us it was a miraculous change and we are now living with an affectionate thoughtful daughter as opposed to difficult temperamental child that we had before.
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