Sonia Kirkpatrick knew early on that something was wrong with her daughter. Megan had difficulty sucking on a bottle and didn’t walk until she was 19 months old. When she did finally get up on her feet, she fell down more often than other children her age. At 5, Megan still lacked the manual dexterity to operate a pair of scissors, and even the simplest playtime activities, like skipping and pedaling a bicycle, seemed beyond her.
Kirkpatrick took her daughter to the family’s pediatrician again and again, hoping for some insight. “The concern,” she says, “was minor.” And it remained minor until one day, during one of her many visits to the doctor’s office, Megan stepped on a needle, sat down, and calmly said, “Mommy, I can’t walk with this in my foot.”
Alarmed at the little girl’s lack of sensation, the doctor referred her to a neuropsychologist for testing. The result was a exhaustive assessment written in language so dense that Kirkpatrick had to make another appointment just to have its contents explained to her. Megan, she was told, had a combination of Asperger’s syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and a developmental neurological condition called dyspraxia, which impacts physical coordination.
Recalling the moment, Kirkpatrick’s usually bright disposition falls away and she becomes visibly tense. “I remember sitting in a very stark, very cold environment, getting a diagnosis across a 6-foot table with no help. I was just devastated. It was like getting a death sentence.”
Read the full story by James Williford, first published in the 2012 D Medical Directory.