I've been in correspondence with someone who is trained in the social thinking here in town. I've been trying to get her in to do an eval on her, but she's crazy backed up.
It's interesting. I first started wondering about the autism question back when she turned two. At her second birthday party, she froze up and then later said, straight up to me, "Mommy, I don't LIKE other children. I prefer to play alone." She was atypical even then. Didn't sleep. Refused outright to interact with other kids. Early intervention did an eval, said "Atypical, but frankly, her scores are off the charts high. Could be giftedness. Could be autism. But we really don't have any services that are likely to help her." It's not like she needed speech or OT. They suggested waiting till she turned 3, having her re-evaled, and putting her in preschool. So we did, after moving cross country at 2.5. And at just turned 3, they were able to actually do some pretty indepth testing. Stanford Binet IQ, a bunch of language and fine and gross motor scores, and she scored really high on everything except adaptive functioning, which was pretty borderline. They saw issues, but again, didn't qualify for services, so we put her in private preschool. But meanwhile, she quit learning and developing, more or less completely, when we moved. By that point, I really thought we were looking at autism. But when we put her on meds for anxiety at just turned five, the autism symptoms improved DRAMATICALLY. She started interacting socially. She started learning again. She was still quirky, but the difference was pretty profound. She also had the ADOS done at five, and the psychologist really expected her to score clearly in the high functioning category, but she didn't. She showed insight into why her sister might not want to play with her (she gets mad because I sneak into her room and mess up her dollhouse), spontaneously offered the psychologist some of the goldfish he gave her during the snack, etc. He was surprised, because she scored a zero on the ADOS (absolutely no autistic symptoms). But again, she liked him, and she was one on one with an adult, playing, etc. At eight, she had another full eval done, and they showed high anxiety and depression, lot of rigidity, very low frustration tolerance, but not autistic, even though they had to stop the testing at one point because she freaked out so much. So I've always wondered whether the anxiety is the sole driver behind the autistic like symptoms. That said, the older she gets, the more I think there may be some autism. Her psychologist who is treating her anxiety went through the DSM and was like, "She clearly meets all these criteria." And yet......I think she really does have the social thinking and the theory of mind. She doesn't have a lot of friends at school, but then she says, "But most of the kids are superficial, overly dramatic jerks." Well, yeah, that's middle school. So is it autism or is she just introverted, anxious, and refusing to put up with crap? She plays Dungeons and Dragons a LOT, like ten hours a week, and while it probably meets the level of special interest or obsession, on the other hand, role playing sort of requires some pretty sophisticated social thinking. What will so and so's character do in this situation? What should my character do? How does that help the party? Is it the way they would really react? So maybe it's not autism but really introverted anxiety, low tolerance for crap, and the self awareness that she has no memory or processing speed and so she's hyper aware of manipulating the environment so that fact won't be discovered. There's some sensory issues going on, too, which might be a factor. When we work with tutors and psychologists, the assumption seems to be that the anxiety is an artifact of the learning disabilities, but I really don't think it is. While I've been aware of the learning issues from 3 or so (come on, seriously, the child is a frigging genius but she can't remember how OLD she is??? Don't you think that's a little weird? All the other little girls in her preschool class can write their names, and she is scribbling. Yes, I know she described evaporation to you and correctly used the word soporific, but don't you think it's a little weird that she doesn't know shapes?), I really think the anxiety came first and while I don't think the anxiety caused the learning issues, I think it was a driver.
In other news, apparently there's a boarding school in Illinois that is EXACTLY for kids like her. Brehm Preparatory School. Like, she could be their poster child. We're going there for the eclipse, and I want a tour, but I don't think boarding school is the right move for her. Not to mention, how the heck do people get their school systems to pay for that??? Every psychologist has said not to put her in public school, but even if we did, what learning disability is going to drive a school to say, "Let's send this kid to an out of state boarding school?" I mean, it would be one thing if there were disruptive behaviors, but there aren't, but the school won't even take kids with behaviors. Yet most of their kids are there because the school systems are paying the bills. That's blowing my mind. Almost enough to suggest to my husband that we move, but even if we did, we couldn't pay the tuition even for a day student. But still..... a school specifically designed for her. It's crazy tempting.