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Diana - Interview 33

Age at interview: 66
Brief Outline: Diana's daughter, Vicky, 37, was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when she was 33 years old. Vicky lives independently and spends the weekends with her parents.
Background: Diana, a retired nurse, and her husband have four children aged 42, 40, 37 and 28. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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Diana, a retired nurse, and her husband, a retired academic, have four children.  Their third child, Vicky, has Asperger syndrome diagnosed five years ago when she was 33. Vicky didn’t like being cuddled as a baby and had severe tantrums throughout her childhood. Her parents took her to see various health professionals but were told that they were neurotic or that Vicky’s behaviour resulted from the way they were bringing her up.

Vicky attended a small private secondary school until the fifth form when she was asked to leave. She then moved to a boarding school for children with dyslexia where she was very happy. On leaving school, Vicky has tried various jobs, none of which have lasted long.  She has done a number of courses at FE colleges and is currently unemployed.

Vicky was diagnosed after her mother read a leaflet in the supermarket about Asperger syndrome and felt this described Vicky exactly.  Diana went to the local support group meetings and was given the name of a consultant who diagnosed Vicky when she was 31.  Diana describes feeling relieved to get the diagnosis because of all the years of feeling blamed for her daughter’s behaviour. 

Vicky is now living in her own flat in a nearby town and stays with her parents every weekend. Diana describes her daughter as very impulsive and well meaning but unable to understand how other people feel. While she is largely independent, Diana is concerned about the future because she feels that Vicky needs someone she can turn to if something goes wrong.

 

Diana’s daughter means very well but takes things very literally.

Diana’s daughter means very well but takes things very literally.

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But she gets very wound up about things, you know, and if we are going away, you know she gets so excited. You know she is sort of constantly saying, you know, “Come on, you have got to go, got to go.” You know and dashing around like a bull in a china shop. Everything goes flying everywhere and she winds everybody up and she takes everything very literally you know. If people say, you know, “Well I can’t stay long,” then she is constantly saying, “You said you couldn’t stay long, didn’t you ought to be going? You are not supposed to still be here.” You know, and she sort of gets you now, quite rude to people sometimes, you know.
 
And she is always – I mean she is very friendly and she is quite a sort of character in the village, but she is always sort of rushing to help people with things, like you know, if she sees somebody carrying their shopping, she will grab it from them, you know sort of snatch it from them, not say, “Can I help you?” nicely. She will sort of grab and then she will spill everything [laughs] and you know things go wrong for her really. But she is a nice girl who is well meaning, but it just doesn’t come out right. You know.
 

Diana and her husband went to behaviour therapy after being told that 'academic families have no...

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Diana and her husband went to behaviour therapy after being told that 'academic families have no...

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But we did see an educational psychologist and various other psychologists and they did say yes she has got difficulty with dyslexia, dyspraxia all sorts of things and somebody came to the house and said, “What does your husband do?” And he was, [name] was an academic, and they said, “Oh you know, you academic families have no idea of how to talk to children.” And you know it was all our fault. And they were asking questions like, you know, “Could she have been abused by my husband?” Absolutely ridiculous, I got so cross you know. And whatever it was, it was our fault and we had to go to behaviour therapy and all this sort of thing, which was, you know, total nonsense.
 

Diana worries about her daughter's vulnerability and what will happen when she and her husband...

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Diana worries about her daughter's vulnerability and what will happen when she and her husband...

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I mean our problem is what happens when we are no longer around because she does need a bit of support really. She copes, she copes on day to day level. Perhaps you know not terribly tidy or clean or eating very healthily or anything but she copes in a way that is okay for her, you know. But she is quite vulnerable and people try and sort of sell her a different electricity company, you know and say you save a lot of money if you change and she is always signing up for all these sort of things, you know, and then you have to sort it out, it is that kind of problem really, that she needs somebody around to sort her out.
 

Diana describes the process of her daughter moving into her own flat.

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Diana describes the process of her daughter moving into her own flat.

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Well then when she came back home again, you know, it just, it just was just so wearing that we thought, you know I thought she had got to really kind of start standing on her own two feet. So I got her into the YMCA in [town] initially and there was, you know, a lot going on there. There were sort of exercise classes and all these sort of things that she could join in with and that was great, but that was for a year she was able to do that. And then she became a lodger locally with somebody and, you know, they found her a bit too much. You know it was a bed sitting room, you know and so then I thought well she is probably ready now to have her own place. So we bought somewhere and she, you know, would get paid rent by the DHSS which works fine and we are trying to get her to manage her own finances. She pays her own bills and things. She usually runs out of money by the end of the week [laughs] because I mean she is nuts about collecting little Royal Doulton figures, its never cheap things you know [laughs], but I think well you know, if she spends her money on that it is probably better than spending it on alcohol and you know things from Top Shop. So that is her one extravagance, is that she just starts on a collection of I don’t know, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or something and she has got to have every one you know and buys them on the internet and … [laughs] So anyway that is why she runs out of money.
 
So it has been quite successful then the flat?
 
Yes. Yes. It has. I mean, you know, as long as we don’t expect her perhaps to live the same way that… though she is not too bad at all. You know, she will sort of ring up and say, “Ooh my vacuum doesn’t work, can you come down with yours,” you know. When I sort of pop in, you know, once a week or so, and say, “Are you going to vacuum your floor?” or something. And she will sort of ring and say, “Can’t get my vacuum to work. Can you bring yours down?” And of course it means I do it, you know [laughs].
 
And she comes back three days a week or four days? Is that very regular? Or is it …?
 
Well she always comes home Friday mornings and goes back Monday evenings you know. She stays as long as she can. Sometimes I have to shoo her out of it. So … And she likes to come home. The girl in the local shop is very good and she you know, does paper rounds for her and runs errands for her and things like that and [name] takes her out for lunch on a Saturday and you know, takes her down shopping in The Mall and things like that. So she likes to come home and spend time with [name]. So that is really good.
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