Upon gaining a new job working with a teenage female with Asperger syndrome, I did what any inexperienced person would do when faced with a new career path. I Goggled the topic. I came across this very informative post: Aspergirl: Concerns regarding the DSM-V: I thought I should write about my concerns regarding the DSM-V revision. I am not referring so much to the revision of the classification…as I am the revision in general.
I am a mother to a 14 year old, Neuro-typical boy, who at times has major attitude problems. One time in our cultural history, he would have been considered a high strung, loud mouth, annoying kid. . . Nothing more. Now, in our 21st Century, United States, culture, he can be diagnosed with everything from ADHD (Attention Hyper Activity Disorder) to ODD( oppositional defiant Disorder) to BI-Polar Disorder and every thing in between. What does this mean? It means that kids learn from an early age, that they have an excuse for and thus are not be blamed for their behaviors. The kid will anger a teacher or a parent, gets dragged off to a psychiatrist, is assigned a label, and gets some pills to “fix or alleviate” said label’s symptoms. Then the kid gets thrown back into the ring to fight another round with the wolves and lions of society’s mandated norms. No big deal> Right? Because,both parents and educators are content with the outcome. The above linked post mentions changes regarding the DSM-V (The newsiest version of the American Psychological Association’s Bible of mood and mental disorders). There are so many changes from the older version; the DSM IV-TR. I find that it is scary our professional “experts” in the field of mental Health, take it as the “Bible” of their profession. I am not a religious person by nature and do not spout off Bible verses because, quite frankly, I do not know many. However,the original Bible has not changed in over 2000 years; except for updating the language to fit modern dialog, it is pretty much the same in regards to text. So no wonder, so many people refer to it! I understand that the science of Psychology is mostly a soft science and it is all or mainly all theory, I do not hold that against the field. However, because it is a soft science, and all or mainly all theory, I do not take it too seriously. I have my Undergraduate Degree in Psychology because it was the easiest degree to attain at Boise State University and I have a brain anomaly called Agensis of the corpus Callousm. This means I have a part of my central Nervous system missing since birth so Psychology promised all the answers.
My perspective of the world of Psychology changed drastically when I had a son and he entered the education system. He was automatically targeted because he was out spoken, articulate, very smart and very hard headed. The story of my son’s early academic life can be summed up as a frustrating era for all involved; teachers include. I, being the ever protective parent, and wanting to please the system at the same time, jumped through a lot of hoops. I had him tested for extended academic services; it was discovered he was in the “gifted and Talented” range… well, no duh! I had him psychologically evaluated, at age 7. It was theorized he had Asperger syndrome (now called Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD).Then another “expert” diagnosed him with ADHD. Still another , “expert” diagnosed him with ODD. Not satisfied, and knowing very well he was not delayed with ASD in the least, I had him reevaluated at age 9 and mentioned words like “mood disorder” and “manic episodes” and suicidal threats ( he told his kindergarten teacher he wanted to kill himself one day when she did not allow his friend to play with him because he was odd. He was diagnosed with Bi polar disorder and General Anxiety Disorder. I never medicated him as I suspect he may have an actual biochemical underlying problem called Poly Cystic Kidney Disorder and most if not all mood stabilizing medications on the market wreck havoc on the Kidneys with any long term use. That, and what is the Bio-Chemical problem is the reason he acts the way he does what if it is not a brain chemical imbalance but a whole body imbalance? It is all a moot point anyway, until Obama Care kicks in full swing, and I am assured he will not get turned away for a preexisting condition, I will not have him tested for Poly Cystic Kidneys. His Maternal grandmother, my sister, two aunts, an uncle, two cousins, plus myself all have Poly Cystic Kidneys and we all have mood disorder issues. But, for the time being, my idea is pure theory and will remain as such because so few “experts” examine a bio-chemical imbalance of the whole body, it s always a brain chemical imbalance or a congenital birth defect– as in my case.
Many children and adolescents are diagnosed with disorders that may very well be accurate, such as Conduct Disorder or schizophrenia. But how many other young people are diagnosed with something else just to get a label, be given pills to be shoved down their throats and appease society as a whole?
A very wise, and now quite famous lady, Liza Long wrote a blog, http://anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.com/2012/12/thinking-unthinkable.html
In her blog she opened up about her son’s mental illness and in the process, pried open a long closed dungeon door, society had shut on mental health awareness. Her goal is to advocate, educate and spread awareness, fading the stigma that comes with mental illness. I have conversed with her both in person and over a social network. We often have the same voice for mental illness and yet, often we are on different wave lengths. We are BOTH mother’s to teenage sons who have been; in the past, misdiagnosed, mistreated, and grossly misunderstood. We both advocated for, defended and disciplined our beloved boys. We both, at times feared for our lives and feared for their safety and sanity. Her son has been in and out of the system ( both mental health and juvenile corrections) My son has been in the mental health system, and is just now entering the Juvenile correction system (on a Status offense of Curfew, of all things). Long admitted that one of the only ways she could get help for her son was through the Juvenile Correction System. In her situation, she needed it. What I fear, is that the system will once again, become over reaching on my son’s part and over or under diagnose a problem, and in the process, impede my son’s potential full psycho-social development. In short, I do not trust a system that constantly changes in order to placate and suite the norms of an ever evolving society. I do not want to medicate him and find out I damaged his internal organs by trying to fix his emotional behaviors with a pill. I do not want to give him a plethora of DSM-V diagnosis that will change in 20 years any way. I want him held accountable for his actions. I want him to learn to be accountable and I want him to learn to stand up for his rights but understand he has a responsibility to abide by societal rules and not be excused from them because of a mental health issue. I want him to act the part of the young man he has grown to become. I do not want to depend on a panel of 12 experts, sitting around a table, in a stuffy conference room, to decide my son’s fate with labels from a fluid piece of academic literature.