I began recording our journey through the process of assessment for an ASD (or something like it) over a month ago but the time has never been right to continue it. I can’t finish it because we’re not at the end but we’re getting very close to the end of this stage.
A month or two after our speech and language triage appointment we made our first trip to the Southbank Centre in Glasgow. It’s a child development centre and houses lots of different specialists for many different childhood conditions in one place. There, our son was to do a series of standardised development checks and take his medical history – something I can now recite as well as I can recite “The Sair Finger“. He scored well for almost everything, particularly his language – no surprise there because he verbalises everything. The only area he scored below his age was his ability to care for himself – he finds cutlery and dressing himself a challenge, though he’s really coming on.
The registrar we saw didn’t feel he needed to see an Occupational Therapist – the one thing I was sure he did – and didn’t know if he needed an ASD referral either, but as a registrar she had to confer with her consultant. The next day she called to confirm he was now on the waiting list for both. To be honest, she hadn’t filled us with confidence.
And there we stagnated for months. Gone was the flurry of appointments, the sense of movement. Summer came and went and still not even any word from the speech therapists who had gave us an estimated waiting time of 6 months. We were so frustrated when this passed. I called to find out why, because I was worried I’d missed an opt-in letter. No – I hadn’t lost a letter (maybe just my mind), they had “lost” staff and the wait had been extended to around 10 months. Sometimes I feel like they hope to make you wait as long as possible in case your child grows out of it. This is great if they do but frustrating if your child does actually need support and won’t just grow out of it.
In the meantime, the educational psychologist was back in the nursery. This time, she stopped me in the reception of the nursery where she told me she couldn’t talk to me because we needed an “emergency meeting about schools” and then proceeded to tell me (in front of passing parents) that she had no idea where the suggestion of dyspraxia came from, he clearly had Asperger’s, and that his bad behaviour was because we were giving him too many choices – when had she ever even spoken to us about our parenting strategies?! She was quite confrontational about it all and I was too taken aback to make much response. She decreed that we would need to wait on the results of his next appointment with the Southbank Centre, due within a month.
When we next rolled up at the centre we had a new consultant to speak to so we had the medical history to recap. She didn’t feel there was any need to redo the same tests again but she did do some more. She confirmed that he still had some issues with laterality and with his ability to make his hands do what hers were doing, and she made suggestions of strategies that could be employed by nursery/school. At last! The actual diagnosis my son does/doesn’t end up with is not particularly relevant – what we need are ways to help him cope best with school.
The “emergency meeting” with the psychologist failed to materialise but we did unexpectedly reach the top of the speech therapy list!