I have been trying to find out what is wrong with my daughter so I can get her some help. She is 13 years old. She always gets A’s and B’s and she’s very responsible when it comes to doing her homework. She has gotten awards twice this year for having the highest grade average in math for her entire grade level. Sometimes she is very smart but sometimes she says things that make me wonder what is wrong with her.
The main thing she does that happens several times a day is she’ll start talking out the blue about something without explaining what she’s talking about.
For example she’ll say “They said the dvd player doesn’t work”
I’ll have to ask her “What are you talking about? Who is THEY?”
Or she’ll ask me a question and go right on talking without waiting for me to answer her question.
She appears to lack empathy- a girl at school was upset because she had broken up with her girlfriend. My daughter said "she'll get over it" and she didn't understand why all the other girls got mad at her for saying that.
The other thing I notice is she doesn’t understand sarcasm very well or tends to take things literally.
She doesn’t show a lot of emotion either. She plays tennis and one day at tennis they had a raffle and she won a brand new tennis racket and tennis bag. She didn’t even smile. She just said oh.
When I give her a hug, she just stands there with her arms at her sides.
I have taken her to a pediatrician who said it was ADHD, but since she’s getting good grades and there were no behavior issues at school it didn’t warrant putting her on medication. So then I met with the school psychiatrist who basically said the same thing, that there isn’t much they will do since she’s getting good grades and there are no behavior issues at school.
But I am worried about her lack of social skills and poor communication skills. She can’t get a job if she can’t interview well, she can’t keep a job if she can’t communicate effectively.
I don’t know how to get her the help she needs. People I have talked to online say it sounds more like Asperger’s to them. I asked the school to evaluate her for autism, ADHD and learning disabilities, finally, after a bit of a battle they agreed, but the school psychiatrist tells me she does not think my daughter will qualify for any kind of services. It seems like they already have their mind made up that nothing is wrong with my daughter.
You're a wise mom to trust your intuition that something isn't quite right for your daughter, and to seek support even though her school is questioning your concern.
I obviously can't diagnose your daughter from a short description like this, but the symptoms you're describing -- literalness, lack of empathy, lack of ability to understand social cues, poor communication skills, inability to appropriately reciprocate physical affection, starting a discussion out of the blue as if you know what she was thinking -- are indeed consistent with Asperger's. They are NOT consistent with ADHD.
The school has a vested interest in not offering special services to your daughter, which may contribute to their reluctance to test her. Even the testing itself is expensive (because it takes the school psychologist's valuable time) so their reluctance is understandable, given that your daughter is an excellent student and they have plenty of kids who are not doing well in school who need the school psychologist's time. The truth is, they would not have to offer her special services if she were diagnosed with Asperger's because it does not impact her academic functioning.
She is suffering, however, from peer and social issues, and she does need intervention to help her with those skills. As you say, she will need interpersonal skills to hold a job, and from what you describe that doesn't come naturally to her. It is not really the school's responsibility but yours. Are you in the US? If there is a large University near you it will probably have a child study center that can assess your daughter. But you may want to speak first to someone who specializes in Asperger's. Here's a list of clinicians, broken down by state:
You might also find good resources for an assessment from one of the forums online for parents of kids with Asperger's. Here's one, there may well be other good ones:
Thanks for your response.
Yes, I am in South Carolina. The reason I asked the school to evaluate her was because it is free. I am a single mother and after bills there is little left to pay for an evaluation. I'm still paying medical bills I've accumulated.
I do have health insurance but they only provide services for children who are diagnosed with autism before the age of 8. I did contact MUSC (Charleston, SC) but they said they have suspended referrals for autism at this time. They currently have a six month waiting list for current evaluations and aren't accepting any more referrals.
I am going to have my daughter seen by a different doctor next week, hopefully he won't be as lazy as the previous doctor. I'm trying to help my daughter at home as best I can, but would definately appreciate a diagnosis and some professional help for her.
Thanks for the links, I will check them out.