The psychiatrist scoffed. First, he gasped with a bit of laughter mixed in—that scoffing sound—then he chided me. “Autism is a serious condition. A diagnosis would be life changing. I think you need to take this more seriously.” In truth, he didn’t direct that statement to me, he said it to Sonia. I wasn’t noticing before my comment, but I was for the rest of the meeting. He never looked at me again.
Our third meeting with this guy—we’re addressing Arti’s anxiety. We tried therapy several years ago, twice. The first one, a psychologist, diagnosed Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Arti wouldn’t talk to her. “Willful,” she said. Arti was still young. The four of us met together.
The next one, a therapist. Well respected and known throughout our school district. He’s an ex-disk jockey, has a ponytail. He relates to the kids. “You’re wasting our money” Arti said. “A hundred dollars to play video games together!” We stuck with that one for months.
“This isn’t working,” Ponytail said, “he hasn’t talked to me in weeks. I spend our hour together catching up on my invoicing.” At least he gave us the Anxiety diagnosis. Something Sonia and I already knew–we knew it since Arti was an infant.
We moved on to meds. Prozac. It’s clearly working. He goes to school every day now. No more panic attacks. Rarely any outbursts. He’s stopped wigging on his sister when he doesn’t get his way. Mostly. With the Prozac comes periodic appointments. Arti checks in, gets interviewed by the psychiatrist.
These are Arti’s answers. All single words. Offering any insight is unacceptable. He doesn’t talk to strangers. I find the appointments uncomfortable. In the first one, during the parent interview, the psychiatrist asked about past drug abuse—mine. Not a topic that Arti and I have previously discussed. Today, like last time, we talked about Autism. “Arti needs an evaluation.”
My comment: “Regardless of whether Arti has Autism, he needs support. Half of our answers to your Autism questionnaire are yes.” That’s what I planned to say. I didn’t get very far: “Regardless of whether Arti has Autism…” And this is where we began. This is when he scoffed.
He’s the only child psychiatrist in town. It’s clear to both of us that we dislike each other. He doesn’t like Arti either. And I can’t stand the way he handles delicate topics, topics that change our opinions of each other, of ourselves.
At thirteen, I don’t see why Arti can’t graduate to an adult psychiatrist. At thirteen, I don’t know why Arti wasn’t evaluated a decade ago.