Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Maybe I Don't Like Alphabet Soup So Much

More Letters to Add to the Soup?

Lord knows, I do not go around collecting letters to put after my childrens' names. I don't have Munchausen Syndrome by proxy. And really? We have enough letters, such as: ASD, HFA, GAD, ADD,BPD,OCD, Dyslexia... See? But today, I recognized what JBean has been doing, and the "label" is scarier, really, than the reality. Still, it has to be addressed.

JBean is 7 years old. She has been diagnosed with "Autistic Disorder" but is very highly functioning. I believe her actual diagnosis would be Asperger Syndrome, like her brother. She is an infinitely-serious child. Most of the time, her voice is a sing-song almost-baby voice; this is true at home and outside the home as well. She is small for her age, with large, deep light green eyes and elfin features. I have been told she is adorable. She needs speech therapy, because her speech is difficult to understand. We tried regular therapy last year, but she really wouldn't interact with the therapist.

JBean, though she likes people, doesn't speak in public much. This is especially true if the situation is at all anxiety-producing for her, like a doctor or a teacher, or a new situation that she doesn't know. Up until now, I just figured she was slow-to-warm, like her older sister was at her age. She would grow out of it, like her sister. Turns out, maybe JBug also was dealing with the same issues, just not to the degree that JBean seems to show.

With a quiet, obedient child it is easy to overlook their silence. I am wondering if this is what is happening with her. At Sunday School, I suspect she is getting lost int he crowd. She doesn't go to public school, so this is not a stressor for her. She speaks a ton at home, and apparently this is normal: home is not a difficult place; it is mostly a safe place. She does tend to freeze up and become completely uncommunicative when she is upset or doesn't know what to do. This behavior extends to home as well. Frustration tantrums can result. I figured she just needed help with self-regulation, and that is part of it. But there seems to be more.

I sub to an Aspergers e-newsletter that isn't really very good, but once in a while has something that is informative. Today was that day. It was an article on Selective Mutism. Though not in-depth, it piqued my curiosity so I did some research.

From the Selective Mutism Center website:
Selective Mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as school. These children are able to speak and communicate in settings where they are comfortable, secure and relaxed.
More than 90% of children with Selective Mutism also have social phobia or social anxiety. This disorder is quite debilitating and painful to the child. Children and adolescents with Selective Mutism have an actual FEAR of speaking and of social interactions where there is an expectation to speak and communicate.
Many children with Selective Mutism have great difficulty responding or initiating communication in a nonverbal manner; therefore social engagement may be compromised in many children when confronted by others or in a setting that is overwhelming or they sense a feeling of expectation.
...Some children (20-30%) with Selective Mutism have subtle speech and/or language abnormalities such as receptive and/or expressive language abnormalities and language delays. Some may have subtle learning disabilities including auditory processing disorder. In most of these cases, the children have inhibited temperaments (prone to shyness and anxiety). The added stress of the speech/language disorder learning disability, or processing disorder may cause the child to feel that much more anxious and perhaps insecure or uncomfortable in situations where there is an expectation to speak.

And this definition is JBean to a T. Guess it is time to seek some therapy and get off my butt and coordinate speech help as well.

:::sigh::: She didn't need to go to college, right? I hope not, because I am spending the college fund on braces and therapy for my children.

T, who says we never should have procreated...we really had some bad gene combos

>What are you spending your childrens' college money (or your retirement!) on?

8 sent chocolate:

earthlingorgeous said...

Hugs. I have a 6 year old daughter when she was 2 the first doctor I went to said she is just delayed. When she was 4 second doctor said she will come through by 6-7 but recommended therapy. This time around the latest doctor I went to diagnosed her with Austism and recommended lots of test and we did and found she has epileptic discharges (epilepsy for short).

It's really heart breaking. But be strong God will make a way. Our children are different but they show us their parents how they love us so much and appreciate what we do for them that's enough reward to move on.

Best regards to you and your family. Keep your head up.

Sarcasta-Mom said...

Lables are terrifying, but at least they give you a starting place, to begin your own research and understanding. Jbean IS adorable, and you guys will be just fine, no matter what.

I'm spending my kid's future tuition on food, heat, and my new puppy. I'm just praying they use their giant brains to get full scholarships to college. Once can dream, right?

Anissa Mayhew said...

I'm sorry this burden is hers to carry. But you can never tell what she may overcome with the right help and person to teach her how to cope with her "label". Special needs kids just take a special brand of parent, and you are so obviously full of love for her, she's going to be ok. So are you.

Mrs. Tantrum said...

She is stunning T! What is it about her eyes and that smile? She will be okay. So will you. I know that it is tough to "deal" with the labels. I mean they itch and are poky and have all kinds of weird instructions...oh, wait those are clothing labels. Love her, and cherish this time, because when she finds her voice and uses it loudly for everyone it will be glorious.

T. said...

earthlingorgeous: thanks for the kind words. I am glad they figured out what is going on with your daughter. Hope her seizures are under control now.

sarcasta-mom: I taught my oldest daughter "merit scholarship" from an early age. But we have a friend who is a psychologist, 24 years of school. And he started at JC. He is a successful psychologist, grad teacher and school guidance counselor. I don't think Ivy League college is the end all and be all...he is proof of that for me.

anissa: thanks, sometimes I wonder if I have enough energy for this child. She wears me out.

mrs. tantrum: labels are tough, and my oldest was very particular about them. I could tell you stories about "sock lines" that would curl your hair. Often JBean has a voice, it is only sometimes, when she is upset or anxious that she doesn't speak. It is so hard to know what she is thinking!

Thanks everyone for the comments, and for reading.


hellokittiemama said...

She IS adorable! I love that front missing tooth :)

I was just reading about selective mutism - I believe it was on Whitter on Autism (I'm pretty sure) earlier this week.

I'm thinking that the dance classes will also bring her out of some of the 'shyness/phobia' issues too.. doncha think?

califmom said...

Hey, I have a good friend who's son has selective mutism (and Tourette). Let me know if you want her email so you can pick her brain.

Anonymous said...

There are a number of stressful medical conditions affecting many of us today. One of the broadest topics is anxiety disorders, with millions of people suffering to some degree or another. Specific symptoms vary greatly from person to person. As anxiety disorders grow progressively worse without treatment you should see your doctor immediately if you suspect that you may be suffering from one of these illnesses.

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