So... spent considerable time yesterday with a close friend, whose child has been diagnosed with dyspraxia nearly a year ago. Since then they have moved house, and 'all of a sudden', there are all these social deficits becoming apparent.
She had a Parent's meeting at the new school, he started about 6 weeks ago, and found out he has begun to ask to stay in the classroom during playtime and lunchtime, so that he doesn't have to mix with the other kids. He is having great difficulty making friends, or playing with other children, and she is now looking back with different eyes on earlier experiences that she had considered normal, like the fact he always played with reception age children at school, rather than the kids his age. He's starting having extreme tantrums all evening after school days, over nothing at all. As for obsessive interests, I just had to ask "did he ever line up his toys" to be treated to a rant about how the lines of trains/cars used to go all over the house, and God forbid anybody ever moved one.
Obviously, there was lots of other stuff we talked about, and I gave her the Tony Attwood complete guide to Asperger's, cos it's a good starting point for a parent. But I'm slightly annoyed with her Occupational Therapist, who is telling her that there is no need for her to seek assessment for autism for her son, because his dyspraxia diagnosis already covers all his behavioural problems.
I've heard this song before, and came to the conclusion that there are some issues here about what is best for the child. If he has autistic tendencies, or even may be diagnosed as autistic, will it not help this child to get the best out of his school, if his teachers have a better understanding of the difficulties he is facing? Will it not make it easier for his parents to help him out if they understand why he is having meltdowns left right and centre, and why he has such an idiosyncratic approach to, erm, everything...
Why would anybody advise against assessment for a child who is struggling to such a noticeable extent in areas of functioning which are only touched on in a dyspraxia diagnosis?
I am now wondering if there is a professional issue here, because OTs cannot diagnose autism, and they are seeing lots of kids with coordination problems AND autistic traits, has the diagnosis of dyspraxia/DCD been expanded to include these children? and is this in the best interests of these children? Is it the best way to recognise the complexity of the problems they face?
And with all due deference to OTs, who do amazing work, and have helped my son enormously, they are not doctors, and do not have the understanding of autism that a qualified and specialised doctor can have. They cannot offer therapies which tackle all the aspects of autism, only those which are related to the coordination aspects of it.
OK, I know I'm getting a bit ranty here, but I do feel that we need to be in touch with the right professionals, who understand all the facets of the issues that our children face, whether psychological, social, emotional, physical or otherwise. Obviously OT support is a cheaper alternative than assessment by a paediatrician or other suitably qualified doctor, that doesn't make it a replacement for such an assessment.