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Battle Gear

Related to: Put on Your Armor, Part 1 and Part 2

Several times, now, I’ve “diagnosed” our children in the face of therapists who disagree…only to have a psychological evaluation support my assertion six months (or more) later.

This is not because I’m more intelligent or have higher qualifications.

I don’t point this out to brag.

There is a reason it happened:

NO ONE can be an expert on EVERYTHING.

Every therapist has specialties.

If you’ve been part of the Hypervigilant community for more than a year, you may have wondered why I sometimes write yet another “we have a diagnosis!” post. Since he came to live with us, I’ve asserted our boy is on the Autism spectrum. And every time a professional confirms Autism, a different therapist disagrees the following year.

Some people don’t want their kids “labeled,” but in our case, what I call a diagnosis-in-writing helps us obtain needed services. (A number of therapists agree, “yes, I see those traits, but I’m not ready to put the diagnosis in writing”)

In search of someone who could finally help him, we bounced through the counseling community for six years. When the yearly psych came due, his counselor du jour completed the process.

At the time, utilizing the counselor most familiar with his current behaviors seemed logical, but not all of them were adept. In some cases, he refused to complete questions or gave answers he thought they wanted to hear.  

His fluctuations in participation, combined with the wide array of specific spheres of knowledge, created anomalies in his diagnoses.

In January, a psychologist at the residential center completed a psychological for our son. Her field of expertise is ADHD. Almost all of her recommendations centered around mitigating ADHD symptoms. She did not address any of our concerns about Autism, ODD or social behavior, nor did she delve into factors impacting his aggression level.

I requested (okay, demanded) the center pay for a new psych evaluation with a different individual (since insurance wouldn’t pay for another). They declined to provide a full workup but agreed to a specialist performing certain specific testing.

Here’s what I never realized until now: we needed a TESTING expert.

The individual who performed the second battery does not provide counseling, therapy or psychological services of any kind. He only handles TESTING.

Our son’s session with the tester ended up fielding even better results than I’d hoped and I learned a valuable lesson in the process:

For therapy, turn to a licensed therapist or counselor. For medication, seek a psychiatrist. For accurate test results, consult a testing specialist.

But I digress. My point here is that no professional will ever have full command of every possible issue. Have you seen the DSM-V? It’s a chunky little book. And some of the diagnoses it contains are the sole focus of entire Ph.D. degrees.

When it comes to the kids in our homes, it is OUR responsibility to be the expert.

Children who’ve experienced trauma are each unique, but parallels appear in symptoms and behaviors across the group.

Unless your counselor is well-versed in results of a traumatic beginning, you will likely be your child’s best advocate.

If you live with a child, you know the child better than the “professional” ever could.

Don’t allow fear of being wrong or less qualified stop you from speaking up about concerns.

The most important part of being a child’s advocate is preparation. We need to put in the time to learn and to research.

With this in mind, in the next few weeks I’ll be posting resources to help kids who’ve had tough beginnings.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 encourages study of the Bible, so that we can be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” While not specific to kids who’ve experienced trauma, it’s a great resource for finding hope and fighting fear, both integral to healing.

The idea also applies to studying on behalf of our kids. The more we know about needs and behaviors related to trauma, the better equipped we are to help them and to fight for them.

Let’s get out there and do GOOD WORK.

 

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Put on Your Armor, Part 1

Do you slip into stilettos to run a marathon?

Would you slather on sweet-smelling lotion before slogging through the Everglades?

Have you ever heard of Mt. Everest climbers leaving all the sub-zero gear at base camp?

A little closer to home:

Do you take Monopoly money to the market, leave your gas tank on empty before a road trip, or forget to feed your kids (or your animals…or yourself) for three days?

Of course not. How ridiculous.

Every day, all day long, we plan our day and prepare for those plans.

How is it, then, that we invite children who’ve experienced trauma into our homes with so little preparation?

In a perfect world, a good social worker will thoroughly understand the child’s case and recommend training or reading material for the caregiver weeks ahead of time.

We don’t live there.

We reside in reality, where wonderful social workers are buried in paperwork and policy, or are overburdened by the number of cases they’re assigned. They’d love to provide training and make recommendations but simply have no time.

Or, as was our case, the workers are less than stellar, burned out, close to retirement and just wants to clear their desks with the least possible effort.

The responsibility, then, falls to us.

We must prepare to become experts in order to defend our children.

What excuse do we have for ignoring available information? 

Read. Learn. Recognize. Advocate.

 

 

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