So big girls been referred by the Community Paediatrician for an assessment to see if she has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Today was our first appointment. I found I did very little talking which suited me and made a refreshing change. The psychologist observed my big girl quite a lot whilst chatting to me in general about ASD and what it means. She interacted with big girl a few times with some of the toys in the room and commented about how there was little to no eye contact made and that she wasn’t really ‘playing’ with anything. She asked me about her ‘play styles/behaviour’ and if today she was behaving typically, to which I replied, that aside from being understandably anxious, yes she was. She asked about our family and also a little history on the adoption and how we found the process. We chatted about post Adoption support, or the lack of it and we covered school and some of the issues my daughter faces there. We chatted about her sleep patterns and some of the issues and challenges we face with all 3 the sisters as a group and their dynamics. All in all the appointment lasted an hour, it went well I felt and I was reassured when the psychologist told me she can ‘see’ why the referral had been made and that it was correct for her to have been referred to them, although, understandably at this stage she couldn’t comment as to whether what she was seeing due to ASD or something else. I suspect the something else she has in mind is ‘attachment’ but we’ll see.
Big girl coped well to, she was understandably anxious and cautious about what was going on, she was hyper vigilant and whilst seeming to be playing in the background, she listened to and saw everything. She did her usual thing of drawing me an ‘I love you Mummy’ picture. She always does this during appointments, its as though she needs to reassure the other person in the room that she’s ‘happy’ and doesn’t need to be ‘removed’ 😦 she was very anxious during the appointment which resulted in what I describe as ‘silly’ behaviour but she coped. She was clearly eager to leave being the first one out the door and down the steps when the psychologist told us it was time to leave. She was still ‘very high’ when we left the building and wasn’t too impressed at the idea of returning to school so we had a quick browse round a nearby supermarket and chatted about the appointment in order to calm her down. I wondered out loud about how she must have found it all very strange and worrying going to another ‘appointment’, I explained that the people in this place were hopefully going to help her, by making school a little less difficult for her so she wouldn’t find it so hard and could enjoy it more. I promised her it was nothing to worry about and we talked about promises and what they mean and how they must never be broken. She was regulated and calm again. Back to school she went.
I on the other hand was left feeling, well, kinda sad really.
I went in to adoption knowing there would be behavioural and emotional challenges that we’d face over the years. I expected defiance, I expected destruction, I expected temper tantrums, I expected shouting, screaming and lots of crying, but from them, not me! So I never once thought it would be easy, but I didn’t know just how hard it would be or how long everything would take and how much I’d have to fight for my girls. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of help we’d need, or how unwilling everyone would be to give it, I couldn’t have envisaged the resentment issues between baby girl and middle girl, I knew nothing of the sleep issues we’d face, or the controlling behaviour baby girl would throw our way or the manipulation big girl would use to protect herself, I wasn’t prepared for cognitive issues, I certainly didn’t know what ‘compliance’ was or how difficult compliance would be, I didn’t know just how much I’d struggle to spread myself evenly between 3 unattached, attention demanding children, I didn’t foresee the difficulties of 3 and how one would always feel left out, I didn’t know that some of my friends would leave because they couldn’t understand or how some people would judge me because they to don’t understand, I didn’t know that in 2years time I’d feel even more helpless and out of my depth than I did back then. I didn’t even have any understanding of how all of this would make me feel, I probably still don’t.
In the last 12 months I’ve met with Psychotherapists, psychologists, school Senco, Senses teacher, occupation therapists, speech and language therapists, Gp, school nurse, community paediatricians, physiotherapist, class teachers and social workers all with a view to help my big girl to be happy and she’s not even 8 yet. None of this was what I expected, none of this is what I’d have chosen. I know no one has the luxury of deciding the future for their children, and everyone’s basic hope is that their children grow to be well adjusted happy and healthy individuals and then there are also those bigger hopes of a good education, prestigious job, a family of their own and a network of friends to support them through life.
I wasn’t naive, I knew the girls poor start was likely to have an impact on them well into adulthood with their being a strong chance that those hormones and emotions would take president over education for most of their teens, I just never expected my days would be full with all these appointments and assessments and consultations and telephone calls, it doesn’t leave much room for happiness, which is the one thing I took for granted.
I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here, but this mornings appointment has just left me feeling kinda sad and empty and needing to ‘off load’, so consider yourselves now ‘loaded’ with the contents of my head, ahhh that feels better. Its all for a good cause too, I really need to get some house work done. When I started writing this I had a head full of jelly and I couldn’t even think where to start let alone how to actually clean, but now I’m off to get the vacuum out.
But before I go, I’ll just let you know that Big girl also has an appointment with CAMHS Monday, they’ve called an emergency appointment because of the ‘self harming’ issue at school last week so there will be more about that then.