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Teenage dd - anxiety & depression or Aspergers / something else??

(3 Posts)
WeirdosFromAnotherPlanet Tue 21-Mar-17 01:25:39

Hello. My 14 yr old dd has been referred to CAMHS. In the past year or two she seems to have developed really bad anxiety & become very withdrawn, preferring to stay in her room and not go out.

She seems to be displaying classic symptoms of depression - tired, listless, lack of personal hygiene, trouble sleeping, not eating properly (she always was a very fussy eater, but now even more so, e.g. will only eat a certain type/brand of pizza, bread etc), showing no interest in going out. On top of this, she now seems to be having "panic attacks" if we go anywhere crowded or noisy - freezing on the spot, looking startled, flapping her hands etc. She has the same reaction if we have to go anywhere and meet & talk to people, especially people she doesn't know. She will no longer come with us if we have to travel by train as she gets anxious about us missing a train / not getting a seat / travelling with her baby brother in the buggy.

This all seemed to start getting worse about 18months ago (although not too sure exactly as it seems to have been a gradual thing). I can't think of anything that may have triggered this, other than perhaps the birth of her baby brother, but she seemed fine with this. To my knowledge there are no bullying issues anywhere (we home educate).

I've recently been reading a lot about how Aspergers can go undiagnosed in females as they present differently to boys, and a few things made me think that maybe dd was (and I also seem to tick a lot of boxes too!):

She has trouble making eye contact. She is obsessed with Pokemon and a few anime programmes / computer games. She is very artistic but sticks to drawing the same few things. She listens to the same (video game!) music over and over. She seems to have trouble with jokes (says "that's not funny", or doesn't like it if she perceives that a joke is making fun of someone). Recently she is having trouble with simple requests such as tidying the rubbish out her room, or emptying the dishwasher ("I can't do that" is her response, or "I don't know"). She paces up and down a lot. She can be quite clumsy and loud. She has quite a monotone voice. She has always been a bit of a "tomboy", and never really had a close friend.

However, I don't remember her always being like this. I know I did wonder about her elder brother possibly having Aspergers when he was younger, but I never wondered about dd until now. She seemed a happy, bouncy child, and never had any "meltdowns" as far as I can remember. She hit all her development milestones. It's just now. There is something wrong, but I don't know what. It seems more than just anxiety/depression, but surely if it was Aspergers the signs would have been there before?

I know no-one can diagnose over the internet. I'm just wondering while we wait for a CAMHS appointment, and wondering what on earth I can do to help her in the meantime.

Det54 Sat 25-Mar-17 18:21:49

Hi there, my dd was diagnosed aged 11, she is now 13. We had our suspicions for many years but it was when she reached year 6 and became very very down that we had to admit we needed support. It is a spectrum disorder so children can present very differently and you are correct in that a lot of girls go undiagnosed, they are quite good at masking their problems and with our dd several of her behaviours could have been excused due to her young age, but her peers grew out of the tears shyness and fussiness and she didn't. our dd mainly has problems with social interaction and sensory issues. She is academically very bright which helps with the masking and also loves Pokémon! To be honest the diagnosis has done wonders in helping us u derstand and support her.
You are definitely doing the right thing by getting a CAMHS referral, we had her assessed by an educational psychologist at school before this but as you home educate this may not be an option. We also paid for her to see a clinical psychologist to help with the low mood as our CAMHS appt was a four month wait. We find structure and routine to be important so keep to your routine where possible and discuss any changes talk to her get her to write things down. There are lots of fantastic books out there a couple I like are those by Tony Atwood also look up The girl with the curly hair. Good luck, let us know how you get on.

blimppy Sun 26-Mar-17 20:03:26

Hi, your DD sound similar to mine, who was diagnosed with aspergers earlier this year aged 17. This following increasing problems with anxiety, particularly social anxiety, and some depression. She too had masked her problems very well, but the pressures (academic, social and I guess hormonal) of secondary school years made it harder and harder for her to cope and culminated in a full scale breakdown. She is now thankfully doing much better. Looking back on it, I can now recognise aspects of her behaviour, particularly social, that were quite clearly ASD, but at the time I didn't know enough about it to spot the signs. Having the diagnosis has helped my DD, because it has validated how she feels. It has helped DH and I too, because we are starting to understand much better what stresses her and why. So, I think it worth waiting for the CAMHS assessment. In the meantime, I suggest you could contact your local autism charity - a branch of the National Autistic Society. I think they largely cover the country, and certainly where we are, they are prepared to talk to people who are awaiting an assessment, as well as those with a diagnosis.

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