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Fostering Blog | Alice’s case

Monday’s Fostering Blog

After nearly five months of assessments, it was concluded that Alice does not have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We were not surprised at all by this result. It was concluded that Reactive Attachment Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder are more likely and she will now be referred back to the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team (CAMHS) for therapeutic work. We knew before we started the assessment that there is a huge overlap between the symptoms of ASD and Attachment Disorder (AD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). It is important to get the diagnosis right because how each are dealt with is very different.

Before she is discharged from this assessment centre, the assessor has arranged for one of their psychologists to conduct a cognitive assessment to look at whether she has a Non Verbal Learning Disorder (in addition to AD and ODD). This will be really helpful particularly in education. Although NVLD is not always recognised as a learning disability in and of itself, if she is diagnosed with it, it might just give us a fresh approach to dealing with some of the issues we face because her lack of comprehension. If diagnosed and these issues are thought to be interfering with her educational progress, she will be able to access specific and targeted help in this area.

Non Verbal Learning Disorder is a brain based condition that effects skills like abstract thinking and spacial relationships. People diagnosed with NVLD will often have strong verbal skills and a wide vocabulary, but don’t pick up on more subtle things like sarcasm. As in Alice’s case, she talks a lot, but doesn’t always share appropriately in social situations and doesn’t pick up on social cues. She is very literal in her understanding which poses many issues for her both at home and school, and building friendships is difficult because she is not always age appropriate.

So we have arrived today at the assessment centre for the cognitive tests. Alice happily goes in to the assessment room with the Psychologist. She has no stranger danger and so leaves me happily in the waiting room, having never met the Psychologist before. After an hour and a half we leave the centre. It will be several weeks before the assessment is processed and collated with all the other information they have gathered to date. We will have to have patience, both for the result of this assessment and for the referral to CAMHS for the therapeutic work she so desperately needs. It has taken over four years to get to this point. While she still has not received any therapy as yet, we do feel like we have edged a little closer to it. Perseverance and patience are needed in abundance in fostering!

A Less Ordinary Family Foster Care Blog