As we know, I got my ADHD diagnosis last December. For me, it has been incredible. I suddenly wasn't just some useless girl who lost everything and forgot everything and never finished anything even if she absolutely loved it. This was to do with how my brain worked. So much in my life slotted into place. It isn't an excuse to be lazy, if anything it is making me work twice as hard as I learn how to work with the brain I have (and not the brain I think I should have) and how to start to turn things around.
There's also the grieving process though. The looking back through your life and wondering how things would have been different if you had known. Would I have followed through on my various further education paths? Would I have only played one musical instrument if I had been medicated at school? Or would I have never had the amazing experiences of trying ALL off the instruments because I couldn't settle on just one? What could I have done if we had known?
B has always been "quirky"... we knew about Asperger's Syndrome from when she was tiny, and the older she got, the more "quirks" she got, and the more Aspie she seemed.
It was hard. She was my beautiful baby girl. My first born. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her. Yes, she was quirky, but did that really matter? She was doing ok in school. Friendships were few, but the ones she had were true. So what to do? Just find our own ways to muddle through, read up and use AS techniques where they helped? Or look into it medically? Look for a diagnosis?
It was hard, but the more time went on, the more I realised that for this chunk of her life, for her childhood, there were going to be some massive hills to climb. She's fine with the people who love her and care for her, they understand her and she can live in the world as she needs to. But there were going to be so many other people in her life. The teachers who would see her as a reasonably bright, quiet girl, no trouble at all, and not see her struggles with understanding some of their phrases. The ones who wouldn't understand why fire alarms are so terrifying.
So, we decided it was best to push forward. We spoke to so many doctors. To begin with it was a fight to just get them to see her and understand what I was saying. I freeze up when I have to talk to people, even about things I know inside out like my child. It was here that Furball and my mum stepped in. They came to appointments, they said the words I lost, they read my lists, they assured me that I didn't have some weird case of Münchhausen's.
As she approached secondary school, my need for her to have a proper diagnosis became greater. There are so many teachers for so many subjects. I can talk to a form tutor, I can talk to SENCO and explain that she will take things literally, that she is scared of things, that sometimes she needs to bubble*, but without a diagnosis, it is just one little voice, one mother with a child who may have all these quirks, or she may be mummy's little princess. I knew that my baby girl is a master at camouflage. She will blend in as "normal", ok geeky, but that's about all, to any adult in school. They will tell me she is fine with no issues at all. But that is because she hides. She works so hard to blend in. I don't even know if it is a conscious thing. Then she comes home, and everything she has kept in explodes. The best way to know if she loves you and trusts you is if you have seen this version of her. The one that will yell and storm off, or shut down and refuse to talk to you. That shows that she knows she is safe and you will always love her.
More appointments, more assessments. The speech therapist met her and concluded Asperger's, but that she was just a small piece of the diagnosis process. Until that point B hadn't actually been told the word "Asperger's" (I didn't want to plant something in her head for her to then sort of absorb traits), but she went home, she researched, she agreed that it was a lot like her, and she was far more settled in her own body.
Then the educational psychologist met her within school... the place where she blends in and hides. She said there was absolutely nothing there of note, and that her teachers agreed.
My mind then started reeling. Was I making it up and imagining it? Did she truly need the support I felt she did?
The end of the school year came, and with it a lot of stress. My baby girl was struggling, and it was going unnoticed. I needed to protect and support her more than I was.
Finally, The Appointment came. The yay or nay one. We went in, and talked with the Dr. She discussed that the SALT and Ed Psych had very different reports. That she fell on the ASD spectrum somewhere but how much? And would a diagnosis help her or damage her seeing as the school had all the advice from Ed Psych and SALT anyway. It took a lot of talking. Furball took over the speech as I did my freeze. He explained how we felt, that schools have so much going on, that without a diagnosis it is much easier to brush "advice" into a To Do file. With a diagnosis we can go in and say she has X, these things are the issue, we need Y,Z in place to help her. With a diagnosis we can explain to them that she needs a place to bubble. I also explained things from my own point of view. The view that knowing that I am not a loser, a failure, broken because of how my brain is, just that I have ADHD has already done masses for my self belief, and that knowing that, and having the chance to let her know young feels like an incredible gift. We explained that we truly believe that it is a different way of thinking, not a wrong way of thinking or a disability.
With all of the talking and assessments done, the Dr agreed that a diagnosis would be a positive thing for her.
I'm me. I am still worrying that we have done the wrong thing. Maybe what has helped me will break her? I've been watching the chaos of her mind since diagnosis. She is very jumbled up and emotional. I'm trying to support her as much as I can, whilst giving her the space to process.
All I know is that come September I can go to school and fight for my baby with the confidence that I haven't been making it up. That she does need that support.
I'm hoping that she will feel I did the right thing when she is old enough to see my side. I spoke to many people before I started the process, many said they would have liked the diagnosis, a few said it would have made them feel like more of a freak and a weirdo than they already did. I hope with all my heart that I did the right thing. Diagnosis for me was positive, will it be for her?? Or have I broken her childhood???
*bubbling is a name we came up with for sort of hiding away quietly inside yourself to reset your brain. Like Glinda from The Wizard of Oz... A bubble around you that no-one enters.