Friday, March 18, 2011

Consult or Insistence?

Five times now, Ms. Wall, the school social worker, has commented that the school should have been contacted for input to arrive at DeDe's diagnosis of ADD. She mentioned it on the phone when I first called to inquire about testing, she put it in the post script of her follow-up email, she stated it again during the PPT when I presented the diagnosis and she has entered it into the PPT summary. Five times, at least.

So, considering this, why would the school now refuse to provide testing, to provide the input they have repeatedly stressed they should be allowed to give?

The one thing Ms. Wall offered, was to speak to Samantha directly about DeDe's diagnosis. I was a bit surprised, but hopeful. And so, just as I had done for C.S., I signed a waiver allowing the school to consult her. I hoped a team would discuss DeDe's needs and that Samantha might provide her keen insight and a few helpful strategies, just as they had for C.S.. Hey, as long as DeDe would receive support, I would be pleased.

The call was scheduled for Tuesday. I was eager to hear how it went because I knew, in light of how little support DeDe received after the PPT, Samantha sincerely wanted an opportunity to advocate for her. If anyone could do it, it'd be she. I finally got a chance to speak to Samantha about it last night.

Samantha has a wonderful perspective on just about everything. Without ever sounding defensive, irritated or upset, she views the facts before her and motivations involved with as well-balanced an attitude as you could possibly hope for in a therapist. But she could not conceal her dismay that Ms. Wall would be so surprised that DeDe has ADD.

Samantha explained that the call came from Ms. Wall alone, not a team. She spent most of her time describing DeDe's symptoms and insisting, despite Ms. Wall's obvious surprise, that they are quite pronounced. While she can focus on something of interest to her, at most times, her inattentiveness is almost through the roof. She is socially awkward and she has significant anxiety as well, especially social anxiety. She explained that the doctor who confirmed the diagnosis and prescribed the medication (that has brought DeDe much relief), is one of the most renown in her field. The only missing pieces of this puzzle is whether the anxiety is a result of ADD or related to something else. But the diagnosis of ADD is unquestionable.

And yet, Ms. Wall continues to question it — seemingly won't accept it.

Before we got off the phone, I asked Samantha, "So did Ms. Wall ask for any strategies or suggestions to help her?" She had not. I was compelled to ask, "Well then, why do you think she called?"

Samantha pondered that for the slightest moment, "I think she wanted to know why I would encourage you to request testing for DeDe."

Silver Lining: My conversations with Samantha are thrown into sharp relief against the sort of support the school social worker offers — two professionals working under the same title toward the same purported purpose could not be more different. Samantha is rare, but ideals often are. And she does exemplify an ideal to me. She truly wishes to help her clients. She works hard to both sharpen her insight and broaden her understanding. And after reading these posts, my husband has realized how important she is to our family. We have canceled our cable service, trash pick up, lawn service almost anything else ... but we will find away to keep on with Samantha, if only 2x/month now instead of weekly. I'm very happy to say that while we don't have the support from the school social worker, we will find a way to continue with Samantha, through the school year at least. And I have to say, Samantha proves that people can support each other. She has renewed my faith in therapists and therapy.

As for Ms. Wall, it appears, her call was not an effort to help DeDe, but follow through on her insistence that the school, or more specifically that she have input, that she have her say concerning this diagnosis. I can only hope after she was heard, that she also, finally, listened.

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