There was a single sentence in my doctor's appointment today that struck through me like a chord in a beautiful piece of music: it rippled through my ears like a wave crashing on a shore, so that a small amount of the tension I have been feeling dissipated, the same way the force and power of the wave dissolves into bubbles of frothiness, slumping on the sand.
It wasn't the willingness to sign a referral form to the support services, asking for a home assessment: nor was it his cheery helpfulness when it came to the tricky question of the parking badge form, amazing relief though it was that he thought it would be managable. It wasn't the immediate agreement to send all my children for full paediatric assessment at the local hospital, so that stuff could be put in place properly. All these were good, and so was the suggestion that this could all be done without seeing the children personally, so avoiding the dreadful prospect of trying to manage my three for 45 min in his office. Very reassuring, too, was his view that it would be totally reasonable for us to put bolts on the outside of bathroom or bedroom doors, so long as it was to safeguard property and keep children from danger (e.g. through running taps), rather than to lock children in their bedrooms. After the horrendous experience of April this year, when our local Surestart threatened to report us to child protection services for precisely this kind of issue, this was all a breath of fresh air.
But it wasn't any of those things that really reassured me. Because here, you have small medical practices that mean you see the same GP again and again, so that it is possible to build up a rapport. Obviously that only works if the GP is on your wavelength. So I was on tenterhooks as we chatted, wondering if at some stage the mask would slip and I would end up with some ignorant ill-educated patronising nonsense, of the kind I have heard several times from doctors in the UK.
No, the thing that really sent my mind racing into exhausted, relieved surprise and happiness was the simplest, really. He was asking if I wanted my eldest's diagnosis on his records as autism or Aspergers. Autism, I said, adding that in the UK the name of the diagnosis could make a difference to the level of help you received. "Oh, it's not like that here," he said. "Aspergers will be fine." My face must have shown my uncertainty, because he added
"I know because my son has Aspergers, and he hasn't had any difficulty getting support."
I don't dare to believe it yet. Time will tell. But perhaps, just perhaps, I have got the right GP for my sons.