February 26, 2005

  • Here's a conumdrum for y'all, with which I would appreciate a little help.  My daughter, Kirstin, has an in-law with a little boy a bit younger than Benjamin.

    I shan't go into details, but listening to her recount the difficulty the extended family has with him at parties, his behavior at playdates and in church nurseries, and the like, last December I suggested the child is autistic.

    MSNBC/Newsweek has had a big feature on autism this past week, and when I pointed Kirstin to it, she called and said it sounds like Asperger's to her.  The child fits that profile to a "T".

    Child's mother is expecting a baby next month, and she and her husband tend to determinedly gloss over their son's peculiarities.  Everything in the garden is officially and relentlessly rosy.  Period.

    So.  Here's a child who, trust me when I tell you this, is not right and in desperate need of treatment, and here are parents who aren't going to want to hear this at all, plus they've got a new baby coming any moment.

    My thought is to suggest Kirstin quietly contact his pediatrician's office, explaining who she is, why she's worried about him, and requesting the doctor surreptiously scrutinize him the next time he's in.

    Anyone else have any better ideas?  Believe me, we're open to them!

Comments (9)

  • Pray alot, and share the Gospel.  I'm not sure that the doctor will not mention to the parents that Krisitn was the one to suggest the Asberger's. Kristin might call the docotr's office to find out if information can be given about a patient in confidence first. The only other thing I might say is that even if the doctor does make a positive Dx, the parents might likely still stay in denial. What Kirsten might do is to quietly accumulate inofrmation for them for the day when they are forced to deal with it, and to make herself available to the child with all love and patience. She should not hesitate to share the Gospel with him. My son has a very good friend who has Asberger's and he is very high-functioning. He is a committed Christian. These children can be reached for Christ, and that will always be his-- and everyone's-- best hope.

    Interestingly, alot of children with Asberger's love anime. This is supposedly becuase the facial features of the animations are so exaggerated that it is easy for Asperger's folk to 'read' them. So perhaps animations with Gospel presentations, or a storytelling approach to the Gospel might be a good way to reach such a child.

  • I agree with Eleanor, Anne. I sincerely doubt that the ped. is going to talk with anyone at all besides the child's parents.

    One of our elders has a son with Asperger's. He's very high-functioning. Extremely bright. His biggest challenge in the time I've known him has been regulating his tone of voice. He's very energetic and getting Ian to keep his voice to a low roar has been difficult. He's about to graduate from high school though, and is looking at colleges. He's great, although I know his parents did not have an easy time of it in his younger years. They did not resist the diagnosis though.

    I will pray for this child and his parents. And Kirsten.


  • I wasn't wanting him to talk to anyone but the child's parents!

    No, no...it'd just be someone like Kirstin (or even me) calling and speaking to the receptionist or whoever, explaining the problem, and requesting there be a note put in his file for when he next goes in.  My hope is the doctor wouldn't say a word about a phone call. 

    Or heck, just anonymously send the magazine to the doctor's office with the child's name and a big question mark included. 

    From what I've heard, he goes into the doctor frequently, and with the new baby coming there should be lots of opportunity for the doctor to observe him with an eye toward whether or not he's autistic or whatever.

    Kirstin and her husband have thought of finding some article or other in the Newsweek they could legitimately expect the parents to be interested in - something besides the autism story - and use that as an excuse to get the magazine into their hands, hoping they'll read the story and get a clue.  I'm not terribly optimistic about it succeeding, however.  They're deep into denial.

    It's worrying, poor little tyke.  Early intervention is key, and it's not happening. 

  • No, no, I was saying that even if Kirsten did drop a word in the receptionist's ear, the office might still tell the parents who had done so. Kirsten would have to ask if they would spill the beans about Kirsten saying something to them, before she actually tried to do that.

  • So maybe the anonymous-magazine-turned-to-the-appropriate-page-with-his-name-attached would be the way to go?

    Along with prayer, naturally, but I'm already doing that.  ;^)

  • I'd go with the direct approach.  I kind of think Kristen needs to tell them her suspicion and beg them to ask the doctor for an evaluation next time they're in.  She can use the new baby coming as an excuse to bring it up - fearful for the newborn, and all.  I don't know about the details - whether she just needs to confront the mom, or she and her husband confront both parents, or if any other family members have observed this and can back them up and will agree to confront her as well...that depends on the family dynamics. Pray for wisdom there.

    However she chooses to do it, she ought to do it armed with facts....here are the facts about Asperger's.  Do you see your son here?  I do...remember when he did this....and this....and this....and this....?  You get the idea. And couch it with "I love you and want the best for you and your kids". 

    And keep in mind, if they are in deep denial, they probably won't listen.  Just be prepared that it most likely will take the birth of the baby, and some threat to his/her safety before they will wake up.

    Calling her pediatrician is just too impractical.  First, with all the HIPPA forms, the doctor won't even acknowledge you exisit.  Secondly, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, deceitful are the kisses of an enemy"...if she finds out Kristen went to her doctor, she's gonna feel like K. is going around behind her back, and the relationship will definately deteriorate from there.

    Go for the direct approach, is my advice...even though it's really gonna hurt!

  • sorry - I just realized it's "Kirstin".  My apologies!


  • I have thought perhaps a multi-relative "intervention," so they'd realize it isn't just Kirstin's opinion.  Maybe she could talk to his maternal grandmother?  If she agrees there might be a problem requiring treatment, that might help.

  • Anne, you know these folks far better than I (obviously) so I'm probably all wet, but, for your consideration:

    Are you SURE that they're really glossing over the child's behaviors? Or could it be that they act dismissively about them in front of other people, because they do not want them to be a subject of general conversation unless and until there is something definite that can be addressed? That they are, perhaps, concerned that the child's oddities not become the focus of people's interactions with him, and meanwhile, they are quietly trying to make sense of things privately?

    I suppose it doesn't seem likely, given your description, but I've found myself in a simliar situation. We have a child who is a bit odd and backward, and always has been -- and for a long time, I was surreptitiously reading what I could get my hands on about this problem and that (Asperger's included, as well as various learning disabilities) until I finally came to the conclusion that "a bit odd and backward" is really all he is, and given perhaps more than the usual time and patience (for example, it's not graven in stone anywhere that every child must be fully equipped to go out and slay all the social and academic dragons at 17, if waiting until 19 proves to be all that is necessary) he'll do just fine (which is turning out to be the case.) But I didn't, in the intervening time, make my concerns a point of public discussion and if people suggested that there were issues, I probably said things that might have made people think that everything was "officially rosy," when what I was really doing was filing things away for future reference without trying to make my son the subject of diagnosis for all and sundry armchair therapists. Does that make any sense?

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