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Posts tagged ‘Therapy’

My Diagnosis and How It Changed My Life

For this latest entry in my little section of CARD’s blogosphere, I want to take a step back from the more research-based topics that I usually tackle and weave a more personal tale. I do this for two (somewhat similar) reasons; namely, I haven’t done so in quite a while and desire an outlet for my (nonexistent) narcissism, and two, the thought of connecting to someone through my writing has always been a dream of mine, and I feel that if just one person who reads this can relate to my story, and somehow see a reflection of themselves, then I have succeeded. In previous writings I’ve done for CARD, I’ve referenced my late diagnosis, but never fully went into detail about the ramifications it had not only on my life, but the life of my family as well. So, without further ado, let me share with you my journey to the discovery of my autism spectrum disorder.

As I alluded to earlier, I did not have the luxury of something like CARD when I was younger. My diagnosis was a late one, which definitely had an ill effect on my childhood and early adolescence. Without a name and “face” to whatever was causing my  misbehavior growing up, the assumption became that I was just shy, introverted and lazy. And while I cannot deny that there may be some merit to those assumptions, they don’t paint the whole picture. My parents thought I was exhibiting these behaviors out of apathy for life, and that I could easily fix it if I just tried hard enough. While this is no excuse for poor behavior, I can assure you there was no way I could cure the issues which ailed me without significant outside help.

My parents, bless their hearts, had no idea what to do with me between the ages of 9 and 15. I often didn’t do my homework, never socialized, outright refused to work or do chores, was disrespectful (though that was never my intent, I later realized why it came off that way), and quit every extracurricular activity I ever participated in. Their go-to punishment were groundings, and they were constant. Not only did they have no effect, they worsened our relationship considerably. Oftentimes, confrontations turned into screaming matches with me ending up in my room in tears. I never wanted to approach my parents, and they felt they were losing their son, so it was clear something needed to be done.

Cue 9th grade, the worst year of my schooling career. At this point, things were at an all-time low, and my mom suggested therapy one day out of the blue. I didn’t have the best opinion of therapy at the time, as my sessions when I was younger amounted to little other than the aforementioned “he’s just shy,” but I figured it was worth a shot if I didn’t want to end up as a runaway. My therapist, Marilyn, really in many ways saved my life. She immediately recognized the dysfunction within my family, and she knew something with me was off. As a therapist, she could not officially make a diagnosis, but she is the one who got me and my family to consider the possibility of ASD, as I fit much of the criteria.

After recommending a licensed psychologist, I went in for several rounds of testing, and the results were… telling. Not only was I diagnosed with ASD (Asperger’s at the time), but several other mental issues I’d rather not disclose. While certainly eye opening, it was almost a relief in a way, both for me and my family. On my end, it was a relief to know that I wasn’t some loser who just acted out of spite, and that there was a reason I was different from all my classmates. For my parents, it was much the same, but now they had something to go on as far as getting help. And help they did! I continued to see Marilyn, we started doing family therapy, I got the medication that I needed at the time, and most importantly, I repaired my once-broken relationship with my parents. Knowing that I had ASD also allowed me to do my own research and help to develop better coping mechanisms that work for me, and as a result I’ve become a more well-rounded, productive person.

To cap all this off, I just want to speak directly to anyone on the spectrum reading this who may be struggling, be it with family or their own self-worth: things will get better. Accept who you are, love yourself, dedicate yourself to self-improvement, and never be ashamed of who you are. If your ASD diagnosis is a recent event and you’re trying to cope with everything, don’t think of it as a crutch or anything to be ashamed of. It only makes you special and unique. Thank you all for reading, I hope you enjoyed this tale.

> G. Sosso


Nine Weeks down…Three more to go

Nine Weeks Down…Three More to go!

It is hard to believe that the first 9 weeks of school is over!  Now is a great time to review and really check in to see how your child is doing in their classes.  Most kids need the first nine weeks to “warm up” to new routines, teachers, peers, etc…however, if your child seems to be struggling to keep up, is showing a great amount of anxiety, or is exhibiting any other concerning behaviors, I encourage you to look deeper at what school life is truly like for them. 

There are so many services, accommodations and programs available for your child, through the public school system, that you may or may not be aware of.  More can always be done. 

Here are some suggestions if you are concerned about your child’s school performance, social interactions, behavior or overall functioning:

1.  Schedule a meeting with an advocate to review your child’s current IEP or 504 plan.  If your child does not have an IEP or 504 plan but feel they need additional help, an advocate can lead you in the right direction to get the evaluation process started.

2.  If you do have an IEP or 504, call a meeting.  You have the right to request an IEP meeting any time, as many times, as you want throughout the year.  You may also specify who you would like to attend the meeting.

3.  Put your correspondences with the school in writing including minor concerns or questions you may have for teachers.

4.  Consider having an outside, licensed therapist come and observe your child at school.  A new law has recently been passed that will allow for outside, licensed therapists to observe children at school.

5.  Get feedback from your child. Ask them what changes they would make, if they could, to make school easier, better, less stressful?  Ask your child to draw a picture about their day.  Have your child rate their day on a scale from 1-10.  Provide a visual emotion chart for children who are unable to verbalize their feelings when asked about school, a particular class or teacher.

6.  Attend a workshop or support group.  There are several webinars and local meetings/support groups that address these topics and provide a space to share your concerns about questions with other parents and professionals.

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the above information, please feel free to contact Erica DuPont, LCSW Owner of ProTherapyPlus, LLC



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