• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”

No Bank Card, No Diagnosis!

Please bear with me a moment as I get to my point… I need to take the time to sharpen my sword. Sharing my experiences through my writing is the only real weapon I have–so I am now preparing to wield it.
As most of you know, I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome after 38 years of struggling to figure out “what was wrong with me.” No one saw the signs; no one put the pieces together–until I did. I’ve been ignored, patronized, ridiculed, misdiagnosed, and medicated into complete madness. I have a deep distrust for doctors in general, and it is very difficult for me to trust one enough to have confidence in their words. During all this madness, I thought I had seen it all, but I was WRONG!
I completely trust my current doctor, which says a lot, but it has taken several years to build that trust. He does not evaluate or treat children, it is not his specialty, but he has seen all my boys and agrees with me that they are probably somewhere on the autism spectrum as well. My husband and I have been searching for someone here in Florence, SC, who has experience, and/or is willing to evaluate the boys. The school district says it is the pediatrician’s job, and the pediatrician says it is done through the school system! 

 

Our Insurance Covers Evaluation and Services

Mr. Aspie Writer has excellent health insurance, which will cover the expense of an evaluation, so he did a little searching on the internet and found a place that was willing to evaluate them. This morning we had an appointment at Life Care Psychology Group, in Florence SC. I provided the link to their website to ensure that I am talking about a real place, and what I am saying is the truth–I stand behind the words that I write.

 

When my husband called for the appointment, he verified that they will do the evaluations. He told them that I had Asperger’s Syndrome and we strongly suspect that the boys may also. He was told that they wanted to see us all together as a family first, and then will proceed to perform individual evaluations, asked for my name, and made the appointment– 9:30 a.m. this morning.

The

Morning Began Badly

I should have known that the day was going to go terribly wrong when the alarm from my cellphone woke me up. That could mean only one thing–it was 8:00 a.m., not 7:00 a.m., which is when we intended to get everyone up and try to get the tribe ready and out of the house. Mr. Aspie Writer checked his alarm, which sure was set for 7:00 a.m. — on Sunday!

We jumped out of bed, got the boys up, bathed and ready to leave the house. Impressed with ourselves that it was just before 9:00 a.m. we herded them to the car. Dry cereal in bowls, travel mugs full of milk, coffee, sippy cups, baby bottles, notepads and pens (I need to take notes), the ipad for little to watch Nick Jr., phone, purse, keys, ear plugs, rose sunglasses–even in the rain, which disguised my dripping wet hair, seatbelts were buckled–we were set.
When we arrived at the office, luckily it is only a few minutes away, I stood in line to get to the window where I supposed I would be handed a clipboard, pen, and stack of papers to fill out. Eight minutes later, I was still standing there–now before you wonder why I am nitpicking at the eight minutes, let me tell you.
When it was our turn the woman behind the glass enclosure politely said, “Can I help you?”

“Hi, we’re “The Aspie Family”; we have a 9:30 a.m. appointment.” Mr. Aspie Writer said.

In front of the woman was a manila folder with a label with my name on it, she handed me the clipboard, and I asked, “Do I need to fill out one set of papers for each child?”
The confused look on her face said it all. They had no idea that we were there to evaluate the children; they had MY name and thought they were evaluating me. When I explained to them that is not what we were there for, she promptly told me that my appointment was for 9:00 a.m. and it was 9:18 a.m. already and by the time I fill out the paperwork it may be too late to see me.
I tried to be nice and explain that we thought the appointment was for 9:30 a.m. She took back the clipboard and had me wait over to the side, without giving me the paperwork to fill out. Another office worker came from the back to explain that they have to talk to the Dr. to see if he is willing to see us because we are late and it will take a while to fill out the paperwork. (I am expecting there to be a mound of papers to fill out.)
Now it was after 9:30 a.m., so I asked her give me the papers while she is checking so I could fill them out while we are waiting to see if the doctor will see us. That way if he does, the dang paperwork they are making such a big deal over would already be done.

 

I don’t see how this is a difficult concept to understand…give me the darn papers so I can fill them out and if he sees us then they will already be done, it’s not rocket science people! But instead–we waited some more. Finally, the doctor came out introduced himself and the woman gave me the paperwork to start. I scribbled it all in quickly (by the way it was only three pages, which included information on two children). At this point you would think that obstacle had been hurdled, and we would be on our way into the office, but you would be wrong.

You Want My Banking Information; Why?

 

The last page of the paperwork was a form to fill out in which I was to write my credit or debit number, name, expiration date, and three digit security code from the back of my card. A list of questions that I needed to agree to included them explaining that if you miss appointments the insurance company will not pay for the visit and that I agree to give them permission to automatically charge my debit card (not for the co-pay), but for the full price of the appointment that I missed.
I did not sign this paper. There was a place to initial if you did not have a card. That is what I initialed, and handed the clipboard with all the forms back to the receptionist behind the glass. As we were about to follow the doctor back into the office, the woman behind the glass calls me back to the window to ask me about the banking information form. I told her I did not a credit card, (which I don’t). By this time, another woman working there came over, and the doctor walked behind the counter where the woman was. She asked if I had a bank account or debit card, I said I did, but was not going to leave my bank information. I am paying my co-payment in cash for the visit.
That is where things went bad. I was told that if I had a card, I HAD to give them that information. The information was going to be used for FUTURE visits. If for any reason I don’t show up to a future appointment, then they will automatically charge my debit card for the visit. I told them there was no way I was going to do that, besides, we didn’t even know if there would be any future appointments. Really, what if I did not like the doctor? 
They preceded to lecture me that this is the way doctor’s offices work, that I am required to give the information and authorization to charge my card if I want to be seen. Keep in mind, I have insurance, I have cash in my hand for the co-pay, all I did not want to do was leave a debit card on file to be automatically charged for future appointments.
I have been to more doctors than I can count, and never in my life have I had to provide banking information in the event I miss a future appoint or advanced authorization for them to debit my checking account and I told them so. To which the reply was another lecture about how psychotherapy works.
They actually told me that unlike regular doctor’s office; they do not schedule more than one person in a time slot and in the future if I make an appointment and do not keep it, then there is not another patient waiting to be seen for that time slot. If I don’t show up, the doctor will have no way to recover his money for that appointment if I don’t leave my bank card. I was told in no uncertain terms I would not be seen unless I agreed to this, and this is how ALL doctor’s office work.
She spoke to me like I was an idiot, or a small child who didn’t understand the way the world works. After living 38 years, bearing three children, and dealing with multiple medical and psychological issues (I hate that ASD’s are considered a psychological issues by the way!), I couldn’t possibly have been to a doctor’s office!
I snatched my kids up and we were out of there! Of course, I was shaking with anger and in tears before we hit the street; upset and discouraged because I had dared to hope that there would be someone who could help start this evaluation process for my boys!

Not to mention that my husband had to take a day off of work for this appointment and I wound up having to take my 8 year old to school late without a doctor’s note!

Now that the anger is subsiding (a little), I’m started to feel that whole depressive helpless black cloud around my head. I hate this, and wish there was something more I could do! The only thing I thought to do was to share what we experienced today with anyone who will listen–or read! This is my sword, and I am wielding it!

A part of me says that I shouldn’t ask others to share their horror stories, that I should be uplifting, inspirational and encouraging.  But, many times it truly helps us to be heard, even when it is just to complain about the injustice of it all and know that we are not alone.

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert , contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, three of which are on the autism spectrum.

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