Should have told my son to be himself

Submitted by julie reid on Fri, 8/1/2010 - 15:27

My 14 year old son was diagnosed three years ago with aspergers, adhd,and depression by a psychologist. Later he was admitted to the child and family therapy unit for 5 weeks as he used to become extremely violent due to things that happened in his past and also trying to deal with aspergers. Before  going in  to see the psychiatrist  I reminded my son to look at the psychiatrist as a sign of respect. Unfortunately to my dismay the psychiatrist within a few minutes of seeing my son turned around and said he didn't have aspergers but had a control issue and depression. Bad mistake telling my son to look at him and to sit still! No other investigation was carried out about his asperger tendency. He did not even look at the 10 pages of A4 size paper  I had written  stating all of my sons strange tendencies. His violent outbursts  subsided and being in a sterile environment away from the outside world helped him manage better but back at home trying to deal with all his anxieties, fears etc he reverted backwards. I went to a local child psychiatrist  to get him help for his aspergers as I was told the psychologist report that I had was not acceptable if I wanted to apply for extra aid for school etc.  But due to the  other hospital psychiatrist filling in his report stating my son suffered from a control issue and depression and nothing on his asperger problem the psychiatrist said that he didn't have aspergers according to the hospital psychiatrist and again nothing further was looked into. He just upped his  medication which does not help anyway. I was told by someone in the hospital that it is going to be difficult to get a doctor to  go against the opinion of another doctor. There are no other child psychiatrists anywhere near us that I can take my son to for assessment. The closest I was told is two and a half hours away. My son really needs professional help as he locks himself away in his room all day playing his computer, as he says he can be in his own world where he can feel safe. He has recently started to lose his temper again in a big way especially if I take his computer away. He says he knows he needs help but no one will help him deal with his problems. The social worker tries to reason with him as if he is an average type child which frustrates my son immensely as he does not get it and he knows he is expected to. has anyone else had the problem of getting their child diagnosed? Any suggestions on where to turn to have him officially diagnosed will be greatly appreciated. We live in the wide bay area Queensland. 

Perhaps the alleged professionals you have access to are not so professional.

  1. according to the DSM-IV, your son should not be diagnosed with both Asperger's Disorder and ADHD. The ADHD section says that both diagnoses should not be given (though they could say he "meets the diagnostic criteria for ADHD)
  2. given the effort required to diagnose any autism spectrum disorder, such as Asperger's Disorder, it is not possible for a psychiatrist to assess/review such a diagnosis "within a few minutes of seeing my son".
  3. In Australia, social workers are not trained to treat people with Asperger's Disorder

Can you find a second psychologist with knowledge of autism spectrum disorders and possibly who practices CBT or some other behaviour therapy for teenagers who need help? Your son sounds like he may be receptive to good treatment which is a great start. Perhaps ask a local autism group (if not in the Wide Bay area, ask around Bundaberg) which allied health professionals might be most helpful, use the website ... or talk to your son's GP.

Your son's GP may not know a lot about accessing allied health services for your son. You could call the federal health department to find out how to access "better outcomes in mental heath" for your son. Do not let them put you off ... be persistent.

I suggest you get a competent second opinion on your son's Asperger's diagnosis ... obviously the psychiatrist cannot help (quite a few psychiatrists have little knowledge and no experience of autism spectrum disorders ... they were wrongly taught that since PDDs were on Axis II back in the DSM-III it meant PDDs were untreatable).

Be aware that there are no drugs for treating Asperger's or any autism spectrum disorder. The drugs are for other aspects of your son's condition. I believe he also has a right to treatment and rehabilitation for his Asperger's Disorder (once it is confirmed) ... and if he wants help, it is entirely reasonable to insist that the health system provides it.