Diagnoses – What’s the Point? – Disabled Children
Exceptional Families with Exceptional Kids
by Christopher Auer
Diagnoses – What’s the Point?
Make no mistake; getting an accurate diagnosis is a critical step to support your child and your family. For me, this step is very emotional on several levels. First, while my brother is (I believe) a person with an autistic spectrum disorder, he has never in fact had such a diagnosis. While a psychiatrist recommended he be placed in a state institution when he was a preschooler (mid 1960’s), and a psychologist diagnosed him with Schizophrenia (mid 1980s), I really don’t know, nor will I ever know where he falls in the land of disorders. Second, as a parent, it is emotionally challenging to recognize and come to terms that your child is functioning significantly differently from his or her peers.
What then is the purpose of a diagnosis? The goal isn’t to know that you’re child ‘has’ a particular disorder – say, cerebral palsy. The point is to have accurate language that helps to describe your child’s functioning and ultimately to receive appropriate care. To reach this point, your child does need to have a thorough evaluation performed by someone skilled in assessing the particular area of concern. Some resources include universities, a referral from your child’s pediatrician, an independent evaluator, or your school district.
It may take several evaluations before you believe that you have a good picture of your child. Be forewarned, that often you may end up with a bundle of disorders. My middle child, Craig, is currently officially diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Developmental Coordination Disorder, and Reading Disorder.
Now that I have some understanding of his challenges, which are important – make no mistake, I prefer not to identify or label my child with all of his disorders. While I guess these disorders are a part of his ‘being’, they do not come close to describing the whole. As well, while it sounds like a lot, I know that these are all commonly associated with ADHD.
This past week, Craig learned how to ride a bike without training wheels – sort of. He has not yet figured out to stop. It was quite a memorable site to see him armored with a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and gloves riding around our cul-de-sac. Since he couldn’t stop, he bumped into our neighbor’s car, the mailbox, various curbs, and bushes. Each time he crashed, he immediately yelled, “I’m OK!” brushed himself off, and got back on the bike again.
Ironically, now that I have a basket full of disorders to describe Craig’s functioning, if someone asked me to describe him, I think I’d say, “He’s a really cool kid with some unique strengths and challenges – just as everyone has”.
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