It seems, to people not dealing with special needs, that a diagnosis is simple. It always seemed that way to me. Most short or long term illnesses or diseases are easily diagnosed through relatively common tests (blood tests, radiography, cultures, etc). Even some mental health issues are pretty easy to diagnose- depression, anxiety. And then, of course, you might find out that some are not so easy to diagnose.
If you have a child on the spectrum, or are on the spectrum yourself, you know it takes a lot of time and a number of tests to get an ASD diagnosis, and even then it is not an exact science. After 2 years of different doctors, psychologist, county school district testing, I finally got a referral to a Neuropsychologist to test for it. 2 days of testing. Uncertain results, probably somewhere between Asperger’s and PDD-NOS. Pediatrician marked Sensory Processing Disorder, Asperger’s, Muscular Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia), Fine Motor Delay and Social Skills Delay. Psychologist has Asperger’s or PDD-NOS, OCD and GAD. OT (1 year ago) had Dyspraxia, Sensory Over-Responsive and severe Fine Motor Delay School District (2 1/2 years ago, haven’t had her re-tested yet) said Sensory Processing Disorder and mild Speech Delay, mild Social Skills Delay. Developmental Optometrist lists Asperger’s and Convergence Insufficiency.
I thought her Psychiatrist had Asperger’s. But he showed me somethingabout her medication on her paperwork, and I saw 2 diagnoses: Asperger’s and Mood Disorder-NOS. I don’t know what to think. What does that mean? Does that mean he doesn’t think her behavior was a symptom of the Asperger’s? (I say was because much of it has vastly improved on her mood medication). Does that mean there is something else to add to the alphabet soup? Does it matter if it is NOS (not otherwise specified), will we eventually have a name for whatever it is?
It shouldn’t matter to me, but it does. Like maybe it shouldn’t have mattered to get an ASD (autism spectrum disorder) diagnosis, but it did. I needed a name, because attached to the name is a description and a list of possible or probable symptoms and possible or probable ways to help her. I needed that diagnosis before she started school because we were both petrified to have her start school and I needed to know what to do for her, what she might experience and how to most easily describe her and her difficulties to her teachers
And then, later in the week, I took my poor Amelia back to the doctor because of a UTI. On her form it says MAJOR DIAGNOSIS: Croup. Obviously croup is not a major diagnosis. But that is apparently how they are labeling her asthma, to see if she outgrows it, so it does not show up as a “preexisting condition”. It just seemed odd, I would have expected “reactive airway disease” which is what they usually call it when she can’t breathe well every time she gets the sniffles or something. And it made me think again how overly complicated the diagnosis game it. We can’t call a spade a spade, there is too much involved…insurance, IEPs, 504s & other services available or withheld. It is comforting to me that they show
major diagnosis and that any hospital or other medical institution would certainly recognize that as code for asthma in a young child and treat it accordingly.
I think we parents of special needs/chronically I’ll children deserve honorary Ph.D.s for all of our knowledge of terminology, tests, treatments, side effects, symptoms and for generally putting up with a plethora of doctors, therapists and specialists.