Thursday, November 5, 2009

School: "Your Daughter is Crazy!"

"We have some concerns about your daughter," was what the pre-school headmistress told my wife over the phone eight years ago. This led to the nightmare of a diagnosis of autism five months later.

Yesterday, the school psychologist called to suggest that our daughter see a professional psychologist. "I wouldn't wait on this," she said during an hour-long phone call.

This came about because our daughter's teacher told the class to write a short story about a haunted house. And our daughter, being an avid reader of Harry Potter, Twilight, Warriors, A Series of Unfortunate Events, (etc.), and being an even more avid writer, with an especially strong affinity for macabre events, and being highly motivated to distinguish herself from her peers, wrote a story that apparently scared the shit of out her teacher. And the teacher sent the story directly to the school psychologist.

The story has references to cutting, murder and suicide -- things that freeze the blood of the most detached child psychologist. But I could recognize cleverly assembled bits of plagiarisms. For example, when Harry and Dumbledore go to retrieve the Horcrux in "...The Half-Blood Prince," Dumbledore has to gain entry to the cave with his blood, so he cuts himself. "Voldermort wants to weaken us," he says. Another example comes from the latest Warriors book, "Bluestar's Prophesy" in which the medicine cat keeps mumbling that Tigerpaw wasn't supposed to live.

To intensify matters, our daughter likes to wear black and refers to herself as goth. In fact, she dressed goth as her Halloween costume, adding white make-up and black lipstick to her all-black garb. When people asked what she was dressed up as, she'd tell them, "I'm me."

I'm not troubled at all by our daughter's essay. (Although if she had written it in response to a "My Favorite Pastime" assignment, I certainly would be.) But she does go through disturbing periods of intense negativity that I don't know how to deal with. And she was deeply upset about our cat's death in April, so much so that I gave up my after-supper workouts to stay home and read to her before bedtime. And she "withdraws" when the trouble-making girls try to talk to her. Depression and anxiety can be comorbid with autism. So for all those reasons I'm thinking it might be good to start a relationship with a psychologist soon. If any of you have experiences with this that you're willing to share, please let me know. You can e-mail me if you don't feel comfortable posting a public comment.


CK Lunchbox said...

It sounds like you're very in tune with your daughter.

For what it's worth, I very much understand what's going on. We're having similar type issues here requiring a close relationship with a therapist.

It kind of ticks me off when schools make these snap assessment of kids. I mean, I understand why with all the tragic happenings over the years, but working with the parents is more effective than taking the alarmist approach right off the bat.

Thanks for the honesty in this post. Sometimes we forget we're not alone.

Rummuser said...

When my son was 14, he was in a boarding school. His class went on a week end camping trip and the teacher accompanying the boys found that my son had carried a hip flask of brandy with him. This became a cause celebre and I was summoned by the Head Master who very senatorially informed me that my son was perhaps an alcoholic and that I should do something about it. I placated the Head Master and spoke in depth to my son about this incident when the true story came out. The Assistant Warden of the Hostel had asked my son to carry the flask with him and fearing dire punishment if he told the true story, my son kept quiet when the flask was discovered. I confronted the warden who immediately went to the Head Master and confessed to the whole matter and the latter could not be more contrite.