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Educational Psychologist, Asperger's, Autism - I'm very confused

(13 Posts)
walkthedinosaur Fri 09-Oct-09 20:20:17

I've written on this board before about DS1(7). We live in France but before we came here the doctor suspected he had dyspraxia but nothing every really formally diagnosed. He's always been a clumsy boy, had fine and gross motor problems but has persevered and can now hold his pencil and his handwriting is OK - not brilliant, he can ride a bike etc. I've mentioned in the past his stimming which we call twirly whirly, normally he has a pencil or stick and twirls it in his hands rapidly, while walking around, telling himself little stories and occasionally doing a little hop and a skip - it calms him.

Spoke to his teacher after parents evening a couple of weeks ago who said he had problems concentrating in class, couldn't commit to anything and although she believed he has capacity to do well at school, he's just constantly in his own little world and she wanted him to be assessed by someone - who I thought was the school doctor - all this was in French and my French although OK for chatting about the weather and what the kids have been doing, it's not on this level. She then asked me back to school a week later to discuss all this with the school headmistress, I took a translator with me and after a funny old conversation where we covered old ground, it eventually came out that it was an educational psychologist they wanted him to see. Also they went on and on about his twirly whirlying it's a great cause of concern for them together with his lack of concentration in class.

Towards the end of the conversation and after I'd told them that DS doesn't really have time to twirly whirly at home because to make our lives easier he's on a pretty tight routine which helps him cope and it's become a way of life to us. I mentioned to the teachers I thought DS had Asperger's, they looked at me blankly until I mentioned it was a form of autism and then the look that went between the pair of them, so I put them on the spot and they agreed it was something they had considered too. After that we had a very productive conversation where I laid my cards on the table, said I was concerned, didn't know who to approach in France with my concerns, etc. They were great, they're going to help me all the way, it's all in their hands now, basically they think he needs one on one help in class and they need the funding for this.

So first of all can someone tell me what's the difference between asperger's and autism, they had never heard of asperger's. DS has a very extensive vocabulary and is quite articulate, but I recognise that twirly whirlying isn't his only eccentricty and none of my friends I've spoken to about this has expressed surprise that school have said this (although not a one of them has ever said anything to me about how they thought he was different). Also ASD, High Functioning Autism all these things fly out at me from the internet.

Secondly, the educational psychologist, we've got the appointment for 22nd October so they've pushed it through quickly, he's meeting me and DS (and my translator) at school. What can I expect? I presume he'll speak to DS and me. My head is buzzing from all this, does anyone have any suggestions for questions I should be asking him? I don't really have an idea of what to expect from this session.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings, I'm really up in the air about all of this and have no one to talk to, DH works away for 2 weeks at a time and then is only home on weekends so he doesn't really have to deal with DS1 on a daily basis so doesn't really understand - OK I'm rambling I'll go smile

Marne Fri 09-Oct-09 20:34:24

Hi, i have 2 dd's, dd1 has Aspergers and Dd2 has HFA, The main difference between the 2 is speech, dd1 has very good speech (almost talks like an adult at the age of 5.5), dd2 struggles with speech .

Aspergers also has similar traits to dyspraxia, dd1 has poor motor skills, can not ride a bike but has good pencil control, she's slow on her feet and finds it hard to run in a straight line, i have offten thought dd1 may have dyspraxia.

Dd1 has never seen a educational psychologist, mainly because she seems to be coping well at school but she does struggle to concentrate in class which may become a problem in the next year or so. Dd2 will be seeing a educational psychologist in 2 weeks time and i also have no idea what to expect, i presume it will be to discus what help/support they will need whilst at school.

As for the twirling, i don't see why this is a problem, he's not hurting anyone by doing it and if it keeps him calm why should it be a problem.

I think its best to write a list of all your concerns and take it with you when you see the educational psychologist.

Marne Fri 09-Oct-09 20:34:46

Sorry i'm not much help.

fatslag Fri 09-Oct-09 21:37:01

Hey there walkthedinosaur, I live in France too and my boy has a diagnosis of HFA (he's 6 and has just started CP).

I don't want to scare you, but you need to be aware about a few things in France. There is a huge battle going on here between the traditional psychoanalytical French view of autism as a "psychose infantile" basically caused by something wrong in the mother/child relationship. This of course is a viewpoint that has been abandoned just about everywhere else. The more modern thinkers (i.e. those who believe in the neuro-biological causes of autism and ASD) are in a minority but fighting hard to make their voices heard.

You have to make sure that diagnosis and therapy are carried out according to international guidelines and not according to the psychoanalytical bull-sh%t only in France guidelines. AVOID going to the CMP (centre medico psychologique), the CMPP or the CAMSP. The best place to get a diagnosis is in your region's CRA (Centre Ressources Autisme).

Just as an example, my son started out at the CMP (I didn't know then what I know now). I was told that ds1's problem was caused by our several moves (from US to France to Germany then back to France) which is total shite because I was worried about him before he ever left the town where he was born. The "pedo-psy" insisted that he was traumatised (he isn't). I was told that he didn't know where his neck was (hey???). I was told that he had an "angoisse de liquefaction" (literally a fear of being liquefied). I was told that my English roots meant that I was not capable of understanding the intricacy of the human spirit. You would not believe the rubbish these psychoanalysts will come up with.

There is so much I would like to tell you about... in the meantime, struggle through some of the recent posts on the doctissimo "autisme" forum(you can get to it either through "sante" or "psycho enfant"). You'll probably recognise me, I'm the one always shooting my mouth off and throwing bricks at psychoanalysts!

If you make it to doctissimo, send me a message prive (mp).

Good luck!

p.s. if you saw the "psychologue scolaire", she is anything but an educational psychologist. She is a teacher who took a few units of psychology during her teaching studies. I'm not saying she's not competent but it's a crazy and misleading job title.

fatslag Fri 09-Oct-09 21:50:35

I've just re-read your post. Feel free to email me

I've been through the whole painful process from worry at school to diagnosis to qualifying for state aid for having a special needs child to obtaining an AVS (auxiliare de vie scolaire or 1 on 1).

Incidentally, your boy sounds great and I love the twirly whirly thing! Mine flaps like a chicken and jumps on the spot.

BobbingForPeachys Fri 09-Oct-09 22:06:43

Hi Walkthe

I can only offer hugs and say that specialists I klnow are frustrated about the sit that FS so eloquntly describes below

AS and ASD are both spectrum disorders, you get a DX of AS if you had language delays, Autism if not-ASD covers the whole spectrum (thats obv basic level)

have you xonsidered something more erm informed,such as BIBIC?Means travel to the UK and they don't dx but they do gicve answers and wonderfull useful developmental charts

walkthedinosaur Fri 09-Oct-09 22:06:44

Marne and Fatslag thank you so much for coming back to me. DS1 has very good language skills his vocabulary in English is of an older child and I can't say what it is in French but his teachers have no worries in that department.

Fatslag I'm bricking it now. It is the pschologue scolaire who is coming out to see us but they told us he was an educational psychologist.

Last year when he was in CP they sent him to a pscyhomotricienne what an absolute waste of time and money that was. First off, she made him draw a picture of a person and because he drew a head with arms and legs coming off it and no body she told me that was because he was disconnected from his body. After he'd been going to see her for 10 months she spoke to his CP teacher who again went on about the twirly whirlying, so the next time he went to see the psychomotricienne she took his stick out of his hand, threw it out of the window and told him never to do it again; this was right before the vacances in July and we've had the holidays from hell trying to wean him off it, in the end I've just said go for it, twirly whirlying is better than an unhappy agitated child, so one year later, and 200 euros a month lighter we are no further on. The CP teacher also recommended that we go to a place called CEPA which helps children with behavioural disorders, it was my French friend who told me not to go there, she said she'd come across children who attended sessions there and it just seemed to isolate them even more from their peers at school.

I'm going to make a note of all the places you've told me to avoid and will make a request that he's referred to the CRA. Thanks so much for your help. Did you have to add extra to your mutuelle to cover this? The psychomotricienne wasn't covered at all last year, in a really tight year her fees crippled us at times.

I've found my way over to dctissimo site, it's going to take my ropey French some trawling through, bit different to asking little Pierre what he wants for gouter (pretty much the extent of my French!)

Thanks again, you've given me a starting block at least I can say the direction I don't want to go in.

walkthedinosaur Fri 09-Oct-09 22:13:52

Sorry cross posts with the others, we would consider coming to the UK but I have no idea where to go really. I'll Google BIBIC, it just means having to try and tie in appointments with school hols.

I just want my boy to get a bit of extra help at school, I got so frustrated last week when I was there and they were going on and on about lack of concentration, in his own world, twirly whirlying etc. I had to say to them what more do you want me to do, I've found him a French tutor to help him with his French reading, I've found a retired English special needs teacher who is going to start and see him and give us both some mechanisms to help him learn, I'm doing everything I can. I felt that it was my fault and I wasn't doing enough to get him to shape up in class, and after reading FS's description that it comes down to a mother child relationship that's exactly how I was made to feel, that there was something in my parenting skills that was making him this way. When in all honesty, DS1 gets so much of my time that poor old DS2 has to occupy himself for lots of the time. It's so hard.

paranoid2 Fri 09-Oct-09 22:30:47

BobbingforPeachys- I think its the other way around is it not? AS if no language delay and Autism if there is

paranoid2 Fri 09-Oct-09 22:36:03

Sorry - both are autism. Its a case of High functioning autism versus Aspergers I think. AS is where there is not a language delay but there is with HFA

fatslag Sat 10-Oct-09 08:42:32

He needs an AVS to help him concentrate in school. To get one, you need a doctor (medecin) preferably a specialist to write "suspicion de TED, besoin d'AVS pour assurer l'integration scolaire" on a piece of paper. A local pedo-psy can do it. The trouble is finding a pedo-psy who will cooperate and not get you bogged down in their waste of time treatment.

If you can get the bit of paper, you and the school formulate a "demande d'AVS" and send it to the MDPH (maison departementale des personnes handicapees). The mdph will decide yes or no, but it is the education nationale who has to enroll the AVS and pay him/her.

The trouble with the CRA is that it takes a LONG TIME - about a year in most areas.

That stuff about being disconnected from his body is typical, it's absolute shite with no theoretical basis to it at all, but they won't let go of it. You're a fantastic mum, you just have to BULLDOZE over them (not easy if you don't speak the language) because despite the fact that they basically believe that parents are part of the problem, they cannot do anything without YOUR permission.

Do not let him go anywhere near the Hopital du Jour.

I realise that I sound totally paranoid to any sane person reading this but you seriously cannot believe the situation in France for ASD kids (and adults), it's frightening. It would almost be funny - but I'm fighting the system to keep my little boy in school.

Please please email me if you need more help.

BobbingForPeachys Sat 10-Oct-09 09:26:07

Sorry I as posting late LOL

OK so this is how it goes under the criteria for DX here:

AS- no language delay, triad of impairments

Autism- delay, triad, under which HFA is 'normal' IQ.Normal equates to a fairly wide band.

ASD covers both

BUT diagnostic usages vary. And DS1 has a DX of AS/ HFA (it's cheaper than paying for a proper asessment by SALt apparently <<thunk>>)

Autism really is all of it....... but different Trusts have their own diagnostic patterns. In 2011 the NICE guidelines are due to be publiched; I haven't see anything to suggest it will deviate muchly but hopefully it will pull together better. We're due a new DSM by then as well but apparently the two won't interlink.

Better? Sorry blush

BobbingForPeachys Sat 10-Oct-09 09:28:02


don't be put off by the name, they set up with a far narrowed band of kids 30+ years ago,they now take everyone from Dyslexia up.

Appointments are flexible and six monthly so holidays do-able IME

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