Saturday, 3 December 2016

Those pesky kids again

About a month ago there was a piece in the JEP on mental health and kids under 10.
It troubled me , especially the bit more than 800 children referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services since 2011 were under the age of ten.  So I did a bit of sniffing about.  Since we are talking sensitive stuff and children and professional services it was never likely that anything substantive would be obvious.

However I did come across one very worrying thing told me by several sources concerning autism spectrum children, particularly asperger's.   There is a facility to  request an assessment for ASD/Aspergers.  No problem with that.  However my information is that if school suspects a child might be autistic spectrum, it is policy they cannot  indicate or suggest that is the case.  I cannot fathom this.  It means a child having some difficulties can go right through school getting no help  even though school is aware there might be something amiss that can be diagnoses and assisted.  It relies on parents being aware and knowing enough to ask specifically for the right assessment.

 There is a quick summary of Aspereger Syndrome at The UK policy and  practice on autism is at 

Two other things I came across reading up n this.  It is not uncommon for high functioning  people to only get assessed /diagnoses late in life.  There is an inheritance trait, though no specific gene influence is known.  The parent becomes aware and gets assessed because the child has been assessed.  That's only adds to the concern about the non disclosure policy in schools - parents might  find they have and can be helped too.

The other is the reported  tendency for people with high functioning ASD to be found disproportionately in some jobs, such as notably engineering.  Eg


I'll relate you an anecdote of my time at University when I was  a Student Union Officer.  One of the supposed perks of holding  one of the execute roles as I did few over 2 years was tickets to the various balls and Hall parties that happen annually.  There were quite a few  at Nottingham University - at least 15 a year.  I never knew quite how it became public but in my third term of office it was revealed I had never actually taken any of these free tickets to these events. There was quite a commotion about it.  Some saw it as good news- more tickets for the party goers on the executive, others  thought it inappropriate -all the exec members had a duty to represent the SU at such things. In the end they had to have a vote on it and I was instructed to go to a least one.  I never had a problem doing  formal events where there was a protocol, I was even able to give  impromptu speeches to  large student gatherings.  But  going to that party was easily the most daunting of all the  things I had to do.  Without clear rules/reference points I was lost.  

So you will not be surprised I think  to know that I recognised some of the traits in the  material I had been reading. I took an online test just to see. I wasn't even borderline but way into the typical scores for Asperge'rs people.  Of course it is not a formal assessment, or a diagnosis.  But its not a surprise.  Of course there might be other reasons fo rsome of the traits that are picked up by that test.  Being  in care as a child for starters.  I don't know anything about my first year of life, but learning at the age of about 7 that the people you thought were your parents aren't and understanding, if only in a vague way, all that you think is solid and safe might be changed at the stroke of a pen by some anonymous bureaucrat might have had some influence  too.

What am I going to do about it? Nothing.  What point is there in seeking a diagnosis and putting a label on things  now. Whatever the cause for my  rather unusual scores and tendencies re unstructured social groups and understanding  individual people, I've made it to my mid 50's in far better shape than so many who have been through the care system , or had a disorder analysis (the two are probably correlated too). The world is just going to have to learn to deal with me as I am just I have had to cope with it  the way it is.  My one regret is if I do have Asperger's I may have unwittingly lumbered my children with issues I'd rather they didn't have to deal with.  It might be a different matter for some other child or parent out there struggling  for whom an assessment and diagnosis and a bit of help realy would make a world of difference. 



  1. Or are you an INTJ?

    1. Hello Paul.
      I've done Meyer-Briggs tests few times in the past for work related stuff. Last time I was INTJ but at least once, perhaps twice, I've scored as INTP.

  2. Hi Mark,

    How long ago did you make the connection?

    I stumbled across Asperger’s on the internet a little over 3 years ago.

    OMG, that explains so many things about my life, I thought.
    Followed ten seconds later by the realisation that it might explain some issues that my exceptionally clever daughter was having at the time. That was like a thump in the stomach!

    There was no sense of guilt (nor should there be; we are what we are), it was a case of being 'winded' and thinking "oh shit!" - this is big - this is a big shock - this is going to take some assimilation, some re-evaluation - I need to find a map but let's sit here and *breathe* for a while.

    I thought my children were perfect. I knew that this child was still perfect; just different, and maybe beyond perfect in her odd way :-)

    Discovering Asperger’s gave us a way forward. While none of us are profoundly affected or have been formally diagnosed, a detailed read off the web just added weight to the likelihood. Understanding Asperger’s gave us the missing piece of the puzzle to help our daughter. It was a lens to view her world and partially understand it.

    It still took a couple of years to throw off her issues and it turned out that the issue affecting her wellbeing most was lack of academic challenge at school. When that was eventually corrected the other issues largely receded back under the surface and she is in a good and happy place which will likely take her to study maths at Cambridge (or similar).

    If I could add to your excellent little write up I would highlight that  Aspergers/ASD can be VERY difficult to spot in girls. It is not necessarily any less common in girls that in boys but girls usually approach the world with a far greater need to "fit in", and some feminine signal reading abilities so they try harder and are better equipped to "pretend to be normal" than are most of the boys.
    Girls/women therefore go particularly undiagnosed.

    Diagnosis is highly variable between practitioners and it is not a cure.
    Diagnosis could also be a double edged sword.
    Self knowledge is probably more use than a "label".

  3. Hello Fractal Father.
    I have been somewhat aware of Aspergers for ages, but only in the last couple of months did it occur it might be me! Very pleased do hear you have resolved things for your bright daughter. Thank you for adding your experience and observations. They too might help someone who happens on this blog piece.