Monday, August 29, 2011

Nothing to Offer

I was required to have a psychological evaluation by my health provider about 4 years ago, as a part of the approval process for an elective procedure. They sent me to a very experienced, soon to retire psychiatrist in Vicksburg, MS. What began as a "check box formality" actually became a very telling and enlightening experience.

Before going further, I feel that a couple of disclaimers are in order. First of all, I share this experience as yet another "message in the bottle" for parents, particularly those struggling to cope with a new diagnosis. I'd also like to point out that the psychiatrists view is his, and not necessarily my own. I found his perspective interesting and somewhat validating. In sharing his view, I in no way mean to discount what others experience.

The discussion started with the standard rapport building stuff and spent some time dealing with my expectations of the procedure. From there, he asked me to list and prioritize "the stuff" that hurts. This is where things got interesting.

We discussed my "failures", my rejection issues, and then the big one. We spent the rest of our time discussing the challenges, pain, and fear involved in raising an Autistic child. I confessed the guilt that came from knowing that Nathan's challenges could be directly traced to having a Tourette's father. I laid it all out.

Of his findings, one was particularly interesting. In all my issues other than "the big one" I needed no help. I'd adjusted well to them and had successfully mitigated them to a healthy level. His words on "the big one" we both enlightening and validating.

Had you lost a child, I could help you. We could work away from that place in time and help mitigate the pain. Because you wake up the father of an Autistic child every day, we can't move away from it. For that issue "I have nothing to offer."


  1. wow... it may just be me but, it sounds like you need a new care giver... not that I have all the answers, but I dare say you do more good helping parents than he does.

  2. I haven't gone back to him. Rather than viewing his comments as a failure, I viewed it as validation. It made it ok for this to hurt every day. This post was meant to share this validation.

    Parents of special kids need to understand that our humanity and struggles are ok, so long as we keep marching. It's ok if we hurt immensely. It doesn't mean we're weak or self-absorbed.

    I came to this epiphany with that doctor's help and wanted to share it, in hopes that some reader needs it.

  3. I think it is very wise. Thanks for sharing that ... not easy I'm sure.