One parent’s story
I read this story with tears in my eyes (Lindy Alexander, “Cycles of affliction”, November 3–9). My daughter, now 28, is severely autistic. Her ability to tell you if she feels sick, and where and how much it hurts, has only started to serve her well in the past few years. Can you imagine what she suffered every month since her first period at age 12? I was her residential parent for 12 years till she had to be placed in care at 16 years old. Her cyclical angry rages exhausted me. I tracked her moods and periods on calendar spreadsheets and issued forecasts to her special development school teachers. We had a lot of vital help: council care ladies to get her dressed for school and bathed on her return home, a lady GP, a very knowledgeable local pharmacist, and a very good paediatrician and (later) an excellent adolescent gynaecology service. The latter two put her on high-dose continuous contraceptive hormones, a huge success. No more life-threatening anger cycles. In the light of Dr John Eden noting premenstrual dysphoric disorder sometimes gets mislabelled as bipolar disorder, I am now asking my daughter’s GP to look for persisting releasing-hormone cycling for her vague ups and downs of mood. One of my friends asked me if I was glad I became a father of a girl. I quipped: “It will be interesting – I was a little boy.” It certainly was for those 12 years.
– Name and address withheld