Note: Since I recently republished the various articles I had written for Root & Sprout here on my blog, I decided to also share a post I had written about a year ago for Adopting the Older Child. I hope to follow this up next week with an update on how it has worked out so far.
I was recently asked by Dr. H to write for Adopting the Older Child about my decision to see a psychologist with regard to my son and am honored by the opportunity to share with you here. Although my son is not adopted, he is a child with special needs, having been diagnosed with autism shortly before his third birthday.
So what brought me to the decision to see a psychologist?
Well, over the last few years (he is almost seven now), I had pretty much given up on typical parenting books and advice because they didn’t seem to work with him. I had read extensively on the topic of autism and worked closely with all of his teachers and therapists to help him progress and to meet his needs, and we had seen some wonderful growth and development in him.
But I was starting to feel stuck. Sometimes things were great, and other times I couldn’t give the simplest direction without hearing lots of whining and arguments, often leading to total meltdowns. My son would also range from sobbing inconsolably to storming off to his room yelling that he was stupid and that nobody loved him.
I tried so many different ways of responding to him in an effort to figure out what would work, but that only seemed to create more confusion. I was also getting more and more worried about his high level of anxiety and his seemingly low self esteem. While I didn’t want to cause emotional damage, I also knew I had to get control of the situation before I had my own meltdown.
I had thought of seeking the help of a psychologist almost a year earlier but hadn’t followed up on it at the time. Now I was
desperate ready, so I made an appointment with one of the people that had been recommended to me as an expert in the area of autism. She met with me alone first to discuss what I was seeing and feeling about my son and our situation, and then she started meeting with him once every week or two.
We were very lucky to find someone I really liked from the beginning, although I was willing to meet with more than one if she didn’t connect well with us. After a few months of going to her, I can say that this has been one of the best decisions I have made. My son is benefiting from having someone who can help him learn more about himself and how he relates to other people.
It has also been wonderful to have someone in our corner with more knowledge in this area to help me figure out what is going on and also suggest the best ways to handle it. She has given me several practical suggestions, including things like teaching expected behavior and finding a discipline technique that works for us.