I explained that many people who go on to abuse alcohol typically start drinking top cope with their lives while they're in middle school.
Pam talked about this family member suffering from "huge disappointments" around that time and that she has self-worth issues. She didn't have behavior problems then. My concern is that she "stuffed" her emotional challenges and then, they blew up on her in her early 30's. Pam also noted that there are financial problems and poor choices in men have compounded the misery.
Well, of course! She might feel worthless and be unable to attract healthy partners.
She needs a comprehensive psychological evaluation to determine the trigger of this downhill slide and to begin addressing what is likely a Major Depressive Disorder which she has been medicating with alcohol.
If I had my way, she'd have a comprehensive intellectual, academic and executive functioning evaluation to rule out a co-morbid (co-occurring) Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. In my experience, alcohol is the first self-medicating move to dampen the pain from chronic academic and work failure.
Contact the psychiatry department of a local medical school for resources that may be available in that setting or go online and search the county and/or state psychological associations. Evaluate the profiles of the clinicians and identify 3 who conduct assessments. Reach out to 2 of them and interview 1 to see if they're a good fit.
If time is not taken to identify the reasons for the downhill struggles in this young woman's life and addressing both the pain of her life and the alcohol abuse, she may go on to do more physical and emotional damage to herself.
Annie called in with a question about her 20-year-old granddaughter who is no longer able to live her parents and 5 other siblings. Her granddaughter was adopted and the family has other adopted and biological children. It is suspected by parents and other family members that she's on the autistic spectrum.
Parents didn't want her diagnosed because of the label. It's my experience that if someone doesn't sit down with parents and point out the reasons for doing an assessment, they get lost in the noise of their fears. I explained why getting an assessment done is so important and needs to happen as early as possible in a child's life.
Here's a blog post that I wrote regarding evaluating those on the autistic spectrum. This assessment plan is for school-age kids. An evaluator will use adult-specific tests and procedures.
I'm suspicious that one of the reasons that this young woman struggles to live peacefully in her family's home is because of sensory issues. There are too many people, too much noise, just too much stimulation and this kind of challenge is consistent with autism. She is much calmer living with grandparents, but she's secretive.
I was concerned when grandmother said that her granddaughter was prescribed a medication for those with schizophrenia. I'm suspicious that she's been given an anti-psychotic. Although this young woman is an adult, it's important that grandparents know what medication she is on in case of a medical emergency.
Anti-psychotics can be given to those who experience irritability, aggressive behavior and mood swings. If a diagnostic interview was done, was autism even considered as a rule-out diagnosis? Would the treatment plan change if autism was the issue?
Until this young woman has a comprehensive evaluation to determine her current level of functioning, she might not make the kind of progress that will lead her to a satisfying life. She could benefit from accommodations in the academic setting and an assessment will outline if she qualifies and which accommodations are appropriate for her.
If she has a diagnosis of autism, she could qualify for Social Security Supplemental Income to offset the financial burden of services that she requires. She may get a lump sum payment that reflects the benefits she would have gotten from age 18. It is my experience that this lump sum is often pro-rated, so don't expect a huge gob of money.
She is likely to benefit from an evaluation by a speech and language therapist for those communication skills that are typically deficit in those with autism (social pragmatics). An occupational therapy assessment is also in order because it's clear that she's a good candidate for sensory issues and is unlikely to be able to adjust to an active work setting unless she has accommodations that minimize the stress of sensory deficits.
Reach out to Autism Speaks for resources.
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