My Possible Wrong Diagnosis of Mental Retardation?

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MusicIsLife2Me
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05 Dec 2012, 2:35 pm

I have only mentioned this diagnosis of mine briefly on WP once before. I did not go too much further with it due to the beliefs of some people about MR.
This post may also be lengthy, so I just wanted to say sorry in advance.

I was diagnosed with Mental Retardation in 1986 through the school system because I had failed Kindergarten. They thought, at first, that I had Classic Autism. Just as doctors of mine during my baby and toddler years had thought. My mother was on either Depakote or Dilantin for epilepsy while she was pregnant with me and it caused lots of defects in me. I did not walk until age 2 1/2. I spoke, but not much. I was born with flat feet, strabismus and was a premie born 2 months early. They settled on the diagnosis of Mental Retardation because I did not fit all the requirements for Classic Autism. Spectrum disorders did not exist back then ( or they were not widely known or recognized yet)

All through my school years I showed both learning and social impairments (which DO also go along with MR) My learning impairments tended to be more severe than my social impairments. I remember speaking TOO much. I did try to socialize with other children, but was not very good at it because I could not tell if they were or were not interested in what I had to say. I just didn't pay attention to stuff like that. I could not tell what was a joke and what was not, and would often cry due to my frustrations or if another child made it abundantly clear that I was not welcome (such as resorting to harsh name calling)
I had sensory issues, mostly with sound and often heard things others did not. Once I swear I heard music and tried telling my teacher, but she said she didn't hear anything that sounded like music. I'm thinking that may have been either a hallucination or just a really, really bad sensory overload. Although I did hallucinate a couple times as a small child directly after breaking my clavicle, and once after running a very high fever.

I had very poor memory skills in school, but could remember some key points in my life, such as my mothers' heart attack that I witnessed when I was 3. I do not recall what my mother looked like then, but could describe our couch in perfect detail. I remember my sister and I having a discussion about my mothers' heart attack in my mid-twenties and before that she was under the impression that I did not recall the event due to my age at the time and what I was labeled as. I also remember a favorite toy of mine that played music. It was a white crib mobile that I carried around on a blue hanger and it's writing was very faded. I accidentally turned the dial of it too far one day and it broke. I remember losing my mind because it stopped playing music, and I remember screaming at the top of my lungs for it to be fixed. My "obsession" is, and always has been, music. I have been rocking myself to it since I was in a crib (but with my former difficulties I most likely did whatever I could manage just to move to it)
What I want to know is how can a child who has poor memory in school and who is also labeled as nothing but Mentally Retarded be able to recall such detail? A guess of mine is that perhaps I was receiving too much sensory overload in school. I often stared off into space "daydreaming". From what I have read about girls with ASD's is that a lot of them tend to be more passive about things that bother them.
I did very much have meltdowns, but I held outbursts in while in school......when I got home it was a different story. I felt safe there. I guess I have always tried in one way or another to follow my peers, which I also read that lots of girls with ASD's tend to do due to the social pressures that girls face.

My 3-5 grade teacher was very uncaring about my struggles and differences and would often tell me I was being too sensitive or rude. She would get close to my desk and point her finger in my face if I did not understand what she was saying about my "bad behavior" the first time. Which would cause a crying episode in school and a meltdown at home. I did manage to get mainstreamed into a regular class for reading in the 5th grade although it was a third grade class (it was moreof a trial for me at the time so they started me off slow)
My mother tried speaking to my teacher several times about my difficulties with no luck. I would still go through the same issues with other children and my teacher. So she started keeping me home more and more. I do not recall going to school too much after about the 3rd grade. In Middle School the bullying and misunderstandings got worse for me. But I showed a great interest in learning things. I excelled over my special education peers in all things except mathematics (I could never fully grasp it) In the 7th grade my parents were taken to court for not sending me to school they way they should have. While I understand that was wrong of them they did indeed make every attempt to alleviate my stress with peers. They even went as far as trying to find another school for me, but because of my learning difficulties and poor attendance none would take me. We found one school that did have a Special Education Department but the school was private and very expensive so I could not attend.
In 8th grade the same thing happened with court but in between the time of the 6th-8th grades they decided to mainstream me once again in grade 8 in Reading/Writing and they also added the subject of History - both classes were of a regular 8th grade level. So somewhere along the lines I did show very much improvement although I was not in school much. They gave me a 'trial run" in a remidial math class to see what I could do, but I completely bombed that so back to Special Ed Math I went.

In 9th grade I missed lots of school, but not enough for my parents to have to go to court. They placed me back in Special classes for some things and bumped me down to remedial classes for some things. I did miss enough school that I had to do summer school in order to pass the 9th grade. The stress of all those changes and the constant struggles I faced with my peers had become so bad that I started breaking out in boils and hives on my arms. I had also been going through physical bullying through the years. What I noticed about other kids is that when their words don't affect you much they start using other tactics. Although I was very sensitive to the name calling and constant taunts about my appearance. I guess I never really paid attention to my appearance because I was too busy with music or art. In the 10th grade my mother finally let me drop out of school.

At the age of 27 I decided that I wanted to get my GED, so I enrolled in classes at the local High School. Upon reviewing my school records, evaluations, and diagnosis they told me that I would most likely not be able to pass and obtain a GED. I found these classes to be less distracting than I did as a smaller child and teenager. There was less small annoying noises and people did not talk much unless it pertained to the class. I still had slight difficulties with noises such as chalk on a blackboard, people sniffling, doors opening and closing, the ticking of the clock, and so on - but my agitation with it all was less severe than it was. I did not zone out nearly as much. I requested to take my test in a room alone. I saw such a significant difference in my academic performance that I did not want to take any chances of getting distracted while I was taking my test. I REALLY wanted my GED. I passed my test with average and even ABOVE average scores. Iam not sure how GED is scored but they give percentiles alongside the scores for each subject. It took me 4 times to pass it's math portion though. I had been receiving tutoring from a woman who I was referred to by the school. This woman was used to teaching people of normal to high intelligence. The school did not have a tutor skilled in Special Education. But a friend of mine knew of a woman who was a Special Education teacher. I went to her for tutoring for a couple of months and saw a significant improvement in my math abilities. It was the STRATEGY she used to teach me that helped me - colored markers and a whiteboard. I did pass math, but after the test Icould not retain what I had learned. Math is by far my WEAKEST subject - and always has been.

But what I want to know is, does it seem possible that I was misdiagnosed or that MR was possibly not as severe as they thought? Could I possibly have an ASD as well?

Thank you if you have read all of this.


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Tyri0n
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05 Dec 2012, 2:50 pm

Take an IQ test, or cognitive evaluation. It sounds like, while you may have difficulties in certain areas, you are not really mentally impaired overall. Your verbal abilities, it appears, are likely at least normal while your other abilities might be below average. This is consistent with Asperger's Disorder.

Speaking too much and missing social cues in school sounds a lot like Asperger's Disorder (not classic autism), or PDD-NOS. On the other hand, it could be a number of other things, like non-verbal learning disability (NVLD), which would also explain your lifelong difficulty with math. NVLD is frequently misdiagnosed as Asperger's Disorder, and the fact that your social problems were less severe than your learning problems (mine, with an ASD + NVLD, were almost equally severe) could indicate this strongly. If you had ADHD, NVLD, and Asperger's together, that would not be uncommon at all. You could still get tested to figure this out.

Finally, don't pay attention to labels. I had so many perceptual, processing, attention, and visual issues in kindergarten that, had I not been homeschooled, I would likely have been diagnosed as mentally retarded also. As a child, I had an IQ that tested nearly two standardized deviations below average. But I have gone on to get 99th percentile on the SAT, graduate college, get accepted into several ivy league law schools, and be actively and well employed for the past 4 years. So, really, don't pay attention to the way they labeled you in school. It's very likely not correct because it's what you do that matters, not how your kindergarten teachers judge you.



Last edited by Tyri0n on 05 Dec 2012, 2:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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05 Dec 2012, 2:51 pm

I'd say it's a possibility, but as I'm not a medical expert or anything I can't confirm it.

From your writing style, it definitely looks Aspie-like, as I've noticed we do tend to have more grammar in our writing than NTs (And possibly a large amount of other neurodiverse areas) although this alone is far too close to stereotyping to be very accurate.

I'd say it's likely - although you probably do have multiple things as well.


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redrobin62
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05 Dec 2012, 4:26 pm

I guess it happens. Years ago I attempted suicide which landed me in a psych hospital for two months. Somewhere along the way, I guess through their observation, they must've felt I should really be with the mentally retarded/autistic crowd. I moved to that unit but it wasn't for me. Yeah, they may have gotten the autism part right, but I'm a mild case, not severe like the those in the unit in which I was placed. After two days I was transferred back to my original unit. I guess all this developmental stuff is still an inexact science. Seriously, it's like they're guessing. My Asperger's is relatively mild which means I may not even qualify as autistic when the DSM-V comes out next year.



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05 Dec 2012, 4:31 pm

If you're on the spectrum, your development by definition wouldn't have been normal--you could have had that early delay, and then slowly caught up. If you got your GED, your academic skills are probably within the normal range.

As far as the MR diagnosis goes, if you don't need any help in your daily life now, you've outgrown that too. They don't diagnose MR simply based on a low IQ score; only if there are problems in daily life as well.


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rabidmonkey4262
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05 Dec 2012, 4:34 pm

You definitely don't write like anyone who is even remotely mentally retarded. This video might help. The relevant part starts at 16:00.


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc[/youtube]


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05 Dec 2012, 8:09 pm

OP's history sounds similar to mine in most regards. I've come to learn though that I was Dx'ed with classic autism at the age of 3, and in my first years of school the teachers tried to tell my parents I had MR, the "experts" came in and labeled me with the only category known to them in the late 1970s; ADHD of which I'd spent most of my life identifying with, and recently have discovered that there have been things with me all along that ADHD alone cannot explain.

I don't recall telling the teachers when I heard the music nobody else seemed to, I was busy focusing on it and trying to identify the artist


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