to not know whether to try and find out if DD has Aspergers or is just a bit eccentric?

(81 Posts)
Fortful Fri 22-Jan-16 11:49:32

I really don't want to cause offence, and am putting this here rather than in SN so I get a broad range of opinions.

So DD2 has just turned 14. Doing well at school, plays a sport (individual), is generally pretty calm, few teenage outbursts, loves her dog (more than her big sister I suspect!).

DD finds the social aspect of school hard, not only at lunch and break, but finding people to work with in class - the other girls often annoy her by being silly, or say unkind things to her. She has been bullied. She isn't into her appearance - at all. She looks fine, just no make up, minimal hair brushing, standard uniform (doesn't roll her skirt or blazer sleeves!). She just isn't interested in typical teen stuff like boys, bands, parties, instagram. DD1 was more typical in this way - had a gang of friends at school, lots of sleepevers, social media etc.

She is also quite shy. She will chat with people she knows well, but it can be somewhat one-sided, she doesn't remember to ask other people questions about themselves. She hates speaking on the phone, and talking to people in shops etc. To me it looks like she is just acutely self conscious. I guess other people would say she is socially awkward.

She has a few things that she is really 'into'. Nerdy things, but they make her happy. She has a couple of people she sees out of school that are also in to these things, so she meets up with them infrequently. She doesn't seem to feel the need to go and see friends. Once a fortnight she might, otherwise she is happy at home.

She is clumsy, quite often very unaware of what is going on around her, finds it hard to think under pressure, or remember verbal instructions (though she is very bright - top sets at school - all girls school btw, her choice). Her hearing and sight are fine.

She did see a school counsellor because she felt unhappy at school, and she does get anxious about the future - because she is bright she sees how hard it is for young people and worries about debt, university, affording somewhere to live. She is quite a serious person. This anxiety isn't constant at a high level, but she is pretty introspective and ruminates.

I have heard her peers describe her as 'weird'. Her older sister has also called her that. One teacher asked if she had a diagnosis of anything. Other teachers say either she is lovely and contributes well, or is quiet, depending on the subject.

So, where does socially awkward end, and being on the spectrum start? I really don't know if she has anything diagnosable, or whether she is just a shy and serious teen. I know from a friend who does admin in a teen mental health team that trying to get a diagnosis takes ages, and you have to be very high need to get seen, so is it worth trying even? If she has Aspergers, would having that confirmed make a difference? She knows she is different from her peers anyway, and might see a diagnosis as constraining what she is capable of rather than explaining her differences.

Wardrobespierre Fri 22-Jan-16 11:56:06

She sounds exactly like me. I am not on the spectrum. I'm a classic introvert with social anxiety.

What would a label do for her in your mind? Would there be any real positive to pursuing it? Would she want that?

Do you feel she is happy? Would more pastoral care be appropriate?

xPeridotx Fri 22-Jan-16 12:00:18

Sounds like my son who has dyspraxia.might be worth having a chat with her form tutor if you have have any worries.

LemonySmithit Fri 22-Jan-16 12:05:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SleepyForest Fri 22-Jan-16 12:10:13

I think it sounds more personality than pathology. She sounds quiet, clever and serious. Teenagers are not kind to people who deviate from the norm.

I hope you had words with her sister for name calling. She doesn't need the bullying to carry on at home.

Vaginaaa Fri 22-Jan-16 12:13:25

I would try and get her assessed. Knowing either way can be helpful because she will understand herself more and as she gets older be able to manage her surroundings and anxiety better based on the results.

BlackeyedShepherdsbringsheep Fri 22-Jan-16 12:16:59

I think it is worth it to find out. It may help knowing. She sounds very much like me and I do not have a diagnosis though I do have a child with asd. I am an introvert who was not into fashion etc. I suspect that there are traits in me and in my dad and in the children's dad, but whether any of us are aspie enough to get a diagnosis is unclear/unlikely, though it all seems to have come together in ds.

dangerrabbit Fri 22-Jan-16 12:17:02

The presentation of aspergers in girls can be very different to boys and it is now thought that females are severely underdiagnosed compared to males so you may have difficulty getting a diagnosis if you wanted to go down that route.

Here are some links you may find useful:
www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/05/are-women-with-autism-being-failed-by-nhs

www.specialneedsjungle.com/autism-in-pink-helping-to-identify-undiagnosed-girls-with-asd/

m.reddit.com/r/aspergirls/about

www.amazon.co.uk/Aspergirls-Empowering-Asperger-Syndrome/dp/1849058261

briss Fri 22-Jan-16 12:24:06

I have only read the OP but she sounds almost identical to my dd1 who is now 16

We did have her assessed when younger and it was inconclusive.

She's much more 'normal' now. She is very stubborn and dogged which she seems very happy with. It makes her frustrating to live with at times. The only thing that does worry me is that she is very un self-aware. She is very passive with friends.

She also loves animals and I expect she will work with them on some capacity. She's also volunteered I a primary school and was excellent - she showed amazing empathy with the kids particularly one little boy with SN. the empathy thing made me realise she is almost certainly not on the spectrum but actually 'just' a stubborn, serious child who is possibly just a bit uncool grin

AntiquityRises Fri 22-Jan-16 12:25:29

Definitely find out. If there is something there then it can only aid her as she goes through life. Knowing why you are different is invaluable. Not only can you then work to your strengths but it's easier to find out how to compensate for any deficits. And you're not left just thinking you're weird and wondering why everyone else seems to find everyday life so much easier than you do.

I'm speaking as someone who realises they are on the spectrum after ds was diagnosed. At 14 I was a school refuser but could not articulate why other than "people", at 17 I was depressed and had bulimia. Every change in life has tipped me into depression because previous coping methods don't work in new situations and I have to relearn things. I've literally sat in meetups with other mums taking mental note of the things they say to each other that I can repeat them. (My preferred socialising is geeky where I can just talk in film quotes, memes and ridiculous jokes)

Not that I'm saying your daughter does have anything diagnosable, but you obviously have enough concerns that there's something there.

AntiquityRises Fri 22-Jan-16 12:27:53

the empathy thing made me realise she is almost certainly not on the spectrum

This is a myth.

HeadDreamer Fri 22-Jan-16 12:30:57

What you describe sounds like me in my teens. I was not diagnosed but I always know I'm odd.

If you think having a diagnosis would help her then certainly do.

I just want to let you know, she can still lead a very happy life. I found university a lot easier than secondary school. I did engineering, and there were other girls in the course. (Not sure how popular with girls they are in the UK). It's then I found there are other girls into nerdy things like me. Then I work as a software developer. I hear the same in other engineering fields. There won't be many females, but you don't feel yourself as that odd when you are surrounded by other equally socially awkward people.

All the best.

HeadDreamer Fri 22-Jan-16 12:32:30

The empathy definitely is a myth. Read the links posted on how girls on the spectrum behaves differently. I can see myself in a lot of those descriptions. I don't think I need a diagnostic now. And I believe even if I'm diagnosed I'll be high functioning because I'm doing ok in my daily life.

Hedgehogsdontbite Fri 22-Jan-16 12:33:55

To get a diagnosis of autism/aspergers the symptoms have to have a clinically significant impact on your life. If someone is fairly happily ticking along they won't get a diagnosis because they're not disabled.

Fortful Fri 22-Jan-16 12:34:24

Really interesting that your replies are mirroring my indecision!

Yes, she could be, and no, she probably isn't, alongside, yes, go for assessment and yet, assessment can be inconclusive/difficult.

This is my dliemma! Is it worth trying for assessment, which is likely to be long, drawn out, possibly inconclusive and yet will no doubt make us all anxious, when many people who sound similar to dd just identify themselves as eccentric or introvert or serious, and are just who they are.

And yes, we have told DD1 to stop being a cow. They tend to get on generally, just lead pretty different and separate lives.

PS This was partially inspired by another AIBU thread about parents being negelctful by not pursuing/recognising special needs in their children. However, it is also something I have been considering for a few years now too.

FanjofortheMammaries Fri 22-Jan-16 12:35:08

the empathy thing made me realise she is almost certainly not on the spectrum

utterly untrue about ASD= lack of empathy

MrsGentlyBenevolent Fri 22-Jan-16 12:40:41

Oh my goodness, you just described me 15 years ago. Word for word, and I'm not on the spectrum (despite my mother thinking so, only because I didn't share any of her 'girly' interests). In some ways I changed when I got to uni, I became more social as I found a group I 'fitted in with'. However, even today I'd quite happily stay indoors for two weeks, only talking to my partner/baby/dog. Not liking to talk on the phone - that such a British thing, thank goodness for text messaging! My younger sister was much like your eldest it seemed, also thought I was 'weird', but I wasn't and still am not. Just different, not every girl is into make-up, gossip, social media and such. I found that such a bore at her age, but couldn't say as much because it opens up to bullying and being an outcast. It's so difficult being 'different' at this age, especially for smarter people who just feel they don't fit in anywhere. Her time will come though, probably why she's so focused on going to Uni and all that comes with it. I bet she's counting down the days to grow up and start finding herself.

I wouldn't push for a diagnosis right now, not unless she feels there really is a problem. Perhaps she will when she's older, but she honestly reads as a young teen - a bit self-obsessed and finding her individuality. Nothing 'wrong' with that.

NewYearNewToads Fri 22-Jan-16 12:43:39

The whole 'people with autism lack empathy' thing is a myth.

I have autism and I'm quite capable of feeling and showing empathy.

blankmind Fri 22-Jan-16 12:45:10

briss your information is outdated and wrong. Just because someone shows empathy and/or can make eye contact, it is NOT an indicator for not being on the autistic spectrum.

OP ask for a diagnosis, rely on the professionals, not randoms online who don't actually know. Autism presents very differently in girls, your dd is of an age where a dx now, if confirmed, could only be beneficial for her FE and her wellbeing.

Some parents are in denial and don't go for dx and their dc's fall apart, it's a lot harder for everyone if it gets to that stage.

roundandroundthehouses Fri 22-Jan-16 12:45:18

Everything you've said is very familiar in my dd1, who is 17 and on the spectrum. But there's a lot more that you haven't mentioned - in particular the huge anxiety/emotional meltdowns at school. If your dd is suffering that type of disruptive issue, then we've found that having that insight into her condition is useful both for us and for her.

I would consider her anxiety issues, and if you feel she is suffering that to a disabling degree, then possibly consider an assessment. But if she is generally happy in herself, I probably wouldn't. It's a very fine line between having a useful diagnosis and having her feel that you're 'pathologising' aspects of her personality. Especially if her sister is already calling her 'weird'.

MrsDeVere Fri 22-Jan-16 12:45:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pythonesque Fri 22-Jan-16 12:45:52

I have a 13 yr old daughter and read this thread with interest. I had a "screening" test done a few years ago which I was slightly sceptical of at the time and am now confident was inadequate. At the moment my 10 yr old is being assessed (ASD/attention/other??) and I think when we have whatever answers we get out of that I'll be readdressing what we should explore with his sister. She's fine in most ways but I think there will increasingly be common problems and situations which we might handle differently for ASD vs neurotypical, and that would be a reason to try to get that information.

I actually discussed some of this with her a few months ago and later she commented about some reading she'd done. I think she relates to the descriptions she's come across. She sticks out a bit even in a small school where she shares special interests with a majority of her classmates. I do think that she is working stuff out intellectually that she doesn't really engage with emotionally. And I suspect that is what their father has done to a very great extent ...

Titsywoo Fri 22-Jan-16 12:48:19

What would having an assessment do for how she feels about herself? If she is anxious and insecure about how she is then do it. If not I wouldn't bother. I'm not sure I should have bothered with DS. It hasn't really helped him and is just a label for him to be judged by.

briss Fri 22-Jan-16 12:49:03

Apologies for not being up to date with current thinking!

briss Fri 22-Jan-16 12:49:46

I can't see what difference a label would make for dd as she is not unhappy with how she is.

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