This morning we had our first behaviour support appointment for Barney. It was an interesting meeting. Barney had no panics leaving the house, and arrived as calm as anything! He was even excited about it.
The psychologist sat us down in her office and asked Barney why he was there, to which he replied with "to see if I have Aspergers". She seemed surprised by his answer, and I got the impression that she thought 'oh here we go, a set of self diagnosing parents who haven't got a clue'. And I was thinking, 'oh dear, this isn't going to go well'.
Basically the hour was spent with her asking us questions about his behaviour, and us answering them. Occasionally she would ask Barney a question such as 'how do you feel when you have a panic attack?' She wrote copious amounts of notes about every aspect of Barney's behaviour, always stopping to ask him how he felt about things. Barney was very well behaved although he sat with his back to her whenever we were talking.
She suggested a few helpful ideas to try out with him. She suggested that when he is stressed or anxious we don't try to cuddle him, hold him, or touch him in any way as it would be a bit of a sensory overload for him (she had noticed in the meeting that he didn't like being touched if he wasn't expecting it) So she suggested to Barney that when he is feeling panicky, if Rosie is crying or whatever, that he goes out and bounces on the trampoline. She said that bouncing was a great calming tool for autistic children. So we are going to give that a try. She also talked to him about deep breathing, and things that we have already tried.
Well, to cut a long story short, at the end of the session she said that there was no doubt in her mind that Barney obviously did have some form of autistic spectrum disorder. He is being referred to Lurgan Hospital to an autism specialist /paediatrician. It can take up to 13 weeks to be seen, but she said that it would be put through as fast as possible. I asked how long it would take to get a proper diagnosis and she said 'in Barneys case, not long, it seems pretty obvious'. He basically ticks every box.
So he is waiting now for his referral to these people in Lurgan. They will talk to us, talk to his school, come out to the home to see him, go out to the school to see him. She said that she doesn't think it will be a long process to get him diagnosed, and that he will eventually get a statement of special needs for education (I'm not sure what the exact term for that is) so that the schools will have to make allowances for his condition.
I feel greatly relieved that we are at last receiving some help, and that some professionals have now agreed with us that he does indeed have Aspergers. There will be lots of courses and help for us once he is referred, which at this stage we really do need.
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