Ted is back on medication. He hasn’t taken a prescription drug since July 2004 when I weaned him off of Zoloft after being told by one practitioner that the dosage of Zoloft another practitioner had Ted on was not only NOT helping his anxiety but quite possibly, because the dosage was so high, intensifying his anxiety. That was the final blow, the moment I said “no more.” No more guessing about the drugs we were putting into my son’s body.
Now, this time the medication is being prescribed not by a neurologist, but instead a cardiologist, and as per my normal modus operandi, I have a plan that will hopefully get him off this drug as well. It will take time and effort, but anything worth having, such as Ted’s health, is well worth time and effort.
But this post isn’t about Ted’s medication, past or present, although I do really want to address that topic as there were many lessons learned from the experience. Hopefully this post will be just the trigger I need to sit down and finally write those.
Today though my mind is focused on the mixed feelings I have about doctors.
You see, I don’t hold doctors in particularly high esteem.
Yeah, I wrote that.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some great doctors out there doing some really great stuff. I know that.
But over the years I have worked with some, well, not great doctors. And when I think of medication, it leads me to thinking about the series of psychiatrists, psychologists and neurologists we met during Ted’s elementary and middle school years.
So, the timing is perfect to be thinking of medication and my feelings about doctors, for when I last left off in my continuing series, Educating Teddy, my dear boy was in 4th grade, 2000-2001. This was the year he returned to a mainstream setting after spending the majority of 3rd grade in an Emotionally Conflicted classroom. That placement resulted in us filing a due process lawsuit to remove him from the EC room and return him to the general education classroom with an aide. The lawsuit also resulted in our receiving assistance from the school system in paying for a counseling psychologist who treated Teddy through March 2001.
This is the story of that counseling experience.
I begin at the end.
This is a letter I wrote to the psychologist’s group practice as part of a complaint I filed with the practice. I took the original “Initial Psychiatric Evaluation” they did and modeling their template, made my own evaluation of the evaluator’s evaluation. The doctor’s statements are in bold black. My comments are in italics.
August 14, 2001
PATIENT’S MOTHER’S EVALUATION OF PRACTITIONER’S ABILITY TO DO AN INITIAL PSYCHIATRIC EVALUATION
1. PRESENTING COMPLAINT: “Asburger” Syndrome. I recommend your office purchase a DSM IV and use it. (At least to check spelling. Try looking under “Asperger’s”)
2. EDUCATION: My son was NEVER in “split classes, which means part regular, part Learning Disabilities classes.” At the time of this evaluation Ted was fully mainstreamed with an aide. Prior to this, from 8/99 to 3/00 he was in a self-contained EC (Emotionally Conflicted) room. It was this incorrect EC placement and the behaviors which resulted that led us to seek therapy with your office.
3. MENTAL STATUS: “Insight and judgment are unable to be measured because he would not mind his mother and get up off the floor.” You then contradict yourself three sentences later when you conclude with “Insight and judgment are poor.”
4. MENTAL STATUS: “Both his recent and remote memory seemed to be fair.” On what grounds did you make this assessment? His incredible memory for facts and details can be astonishing, as it can be with individuals with Asperger’s. (Read Tony Attwood, Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide to Parents and Professionals, Memory, p. 116)
5. MENTAL STATUS: “Estimated intellectual functioning is low-average.” This is the kicker. On what grounds did you make this assessment? Ted has had at least seven intakes done on him and you were the first to come to this conclusion. Since his diagnosis in 1995, Ted has consistently scored three standard deviations above the norm on the multitude of the intellectual ability tests he has been given. Are scores as high as 160 low-average to you?
My impression of your overall ability to document basic facts that became part of my son’s permanent medical record, observe and grasp my son’s “mental status” and to comprehend the incredible anxiety he felt while in a room with a complete stranger who was asking intimate questions about him is abysmal. After my experience with your office I now know to ask for copies of records much sooner as it is obviously imperative that I more closely monitor the competency of the providers I hire to work for me.
Next: What led to my utter exasperation.