I have autism, but my IQ is 95 and therefore considered ‘average’. Because of this, I am not eligible for Learning disability services even though my needs are almost identical to someone who’s IQ is considered in the Learning Disability range. I have anger issues and lots of problems that need addressing with CBT and have been stuck with the adult Mental health service since I was 17 years old (and they didn’t particularly want me then!). Previously I had been with the child service DCAP (now CAMHS) since I was 13 years of age. I am now 25 years old so have been in mental health services for a total of 12 years. I have not had any anger management as it ‘no longer comes under their area’, the waiting lists for CBT are over 4-8 months depending on where you live (that’s just for the assessment) and all I have been offered is drug after drug after drug, all of which have made me very ill instead of helping (except good old fashioned Prozac!). As a one off, I was allowed (what a privilege… sarcasm…) to see a psychiatrist who worked with the Learning Disability team to review my diagnosis and treatment needs. After a long session with my Mum and me, the psychiatrist came to the conclusion that I:
1. Did have Autism (ASC), Tourettes, ADHD and OCD
2. Had mental health issues which resembled Emotionally unstable personality disorder (more commonly known as Borderline or BPD, although this diagnosis has since been removed as I don’t fit all the criteria)
3. Needed URGENT treatment
This was a long time ago now. The Psychiatrist was brilliant, but then explained that although the Learning Disability team was the perfect place for me in terms of treatment and support, because of my IQ, I didn’t come under the criteria for their service. As a result he referred me back to the local mental health service who decided to ignore his advice claiming ‘CBT won’t work for someone with autism’. So I have one team who won’t treat me because of a number and one who won’t treat me because of a diagnosis! (and they say I am the mental one!)
Although I write from personal experience here, I am also trying to make a valid point. Yes, my IQ is 95 which is average (well slightly under as 100 is average) but as the professor who performed these tests on me explained, my IQ was actually not measurable as I have about three areas in which I am way above average intelligence (writing being one!), some at average and about 7 at severely LD range. So because as a child, I sat and read books and therefore learnt to read and write (typing came after many years of computer phobia!), I am being let down by a service which can but won’t help me all because of a silly number! This problem has been highlighted by many people, especially those with (or their parents) autism, Tourettes, ADHD, Aspergers etc. which do not necessarily mean you have a lowered IQ but still need a lot of support. The National Autistic Society is trying to rectify the situation for those of us on the autistic spectrum by creating a third ‘autism service’ but that still won’t help people with other life-long conditions like TS or ADHD, which is why I cannot understand why these morons can’t just admit that IQ need not be a barrier and instead of having an IQ based Learning Dis team, perhaps having a ‘mental disability’ team (I don’t know if that sounds offensive though!). IQ is a flawed concept anyway, as proved by my wavy IQ that cannot be added up correctly! More to the point, why should a number matter? Surely it is people who require extra help in life who should get this service whether their IQ be 50, 80, 90 or 140!
Shouldn’t IQ discrimination be added to the already long list of discriminations? Does it not seem wrong that something as simple as a number can decide the difference between getting support and being ignored? It is about time that the LD and MH teams stop arguing about who takes on our care and start helping us and if LD say they can help us then why should a number matter?