So, the Neuropsychologist …
In June, our 6-year-old was evaluated by a neuropsychologist. Primarily, we sought the evaluation because his therapist thought it would be helpful. I suspect the evaluation will also be helpful in getting support from our school system, although they’ve been extremely accommodating even without a formal evaluation. Also, and this was a distant third on the list, I thought there was a distant possibility that he might have some useful insight for us as parents.
I have to say that I was surprised how well the neuropsychologist seemed to “get” my son after their meetings. He was able to paint an extremely accurate picture of Andrew during our follow-up meeting.
We’ve spent the last two years believing, and being told by every professional who sees our son (teachers, therapists, behaviorists, social workers) that his trauma history and his neglect are the cause of his issues. The neuropsychologist thinks that’s maybe not so much the case. He suspects that, although the trauma and neglect have certainly impacted Andrew and his development, most of the trouble we’re running into are problems that Andrew would be having now regardless of his history.
He feels that the most helpful description for Andrew right now would be temper dysregulation disorder. (Temper dysregulation disorder is a new diagnosis that will likely be used in DSM 5. You can read (and listen) to this NPR story about temper dysregulation disorder for some additional information.)
We’re now waiting to see a developmental pediatrician to develop a treatment plan for Andrew, since the neuropsychologist strongly recommends treating him medically. At this point I am mostly crossing my fingers. I’m hopeful that medication will be helpful for my son, because nothing else we do as parents seems to have any impact. I want him to be able to get through a school day without having a tantrum or getting into a fight with his peers. I would love to be able to pick him up from school or camp without having to have the same conversation with his teacher for the hundredth time.
Andrew is a very smart little boy (he tested in the 95th to 97th percentile) and I’m terrified that his inability to control his impulses is going to get in the way of his education and hold him back. I’m scared of what happens as he gets a little older and we’re no longer able to monitor all of his interactions.
Also, separate from my concerns about Andrew are my own feelings about this as a parent. I’m tired of feeling like a terrible parent, which is how I feel when nothing I do seems to make any difference. I know, intellectually, that it’s not the case. Obviously, I understand that we’ve been following the recommendations of professionals and that Andrew is actually doing a lot better now emotionally than he was two years ago when he moved into our home. He is much more sure of himself, and he knows that he has a place. These are things he didn’t know two years ago. But the functional difference of that progress seems very small. He has just as much trouble getting through the day now as he did on the day I met him.
And the reality is that no matter how many people tell me I’m doing a good job, no matter who tells me that his behavior is currently beyond his control, I frequently feel like a failure as a parent. Secretly (well, I guess not so secretly now, since I’m writing about it here) I’m sure that some day the religious right is going to put my picture on a poster saying, “This is why gay people shouldn’t be allowed to parent!”
Ugh. I’m going to write about something fun next time, I swear.