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Contacting a former counselor


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Long story short: From March 2000 to my high school graduation in June 2003, I saw a counselor named Judy. During the Summer of 2002, I told her that I suspected I had autism.

"You don't," she said to me firmly and clearly. "You don't have autism."

Of course, in August 2013 I was diagnosed with autism.

Her practice is now closed, however I did find her home address. I strongly feel that I should mail her this letter: 

Dear Mrs. Smith,                                                                         December 5, 2021

 

     My name is Jane Smith, 37 years old. I am a former client of yours. From March 2000 to my high graduation in June 2003, I met with you almost weekly at 175 XXX Street in Someplace, MA.

          I was looking through some old photographs from Summer 2002. It made me remember one of our sessions, which I feel should be brought to your attention.

During the Summer of 2002, at age 17, I began researching autism. I recognized some strong symptoms that I had with it. During one of our sessions in Hingham, I confided in you that I was suspecting that I had autism.

          “You don’t,” you said to me firmly and clearly. “You don’t have autism.”

          In August 2013, at age 28, I was diagnosed with autism.

          I understand that in 2002 autism was not the household name it is now, nor was it necessary to be bringing this to your attention 20 years later. But imagine if a 17-year-old suspected she had cancer, was told by her doctor, “There’s no way you have it!” only to find out later that it was metastatic?

Obviously (and understandably) it bothers me that she was so quick to shoot me down all those years ago, only to find out years later that I was absolutely right. Plus, one may argue she shouldn't have been so quick to say "You don't" rather than saying, "Why don't you look into getting tested?" 

I'll also mention that she didn't help me much at all. She had a horrible memory, and I'd say she was more suited for adults, not an autistic and depressed teenager.

Please understand how I feel: imagine a 17-year-old-girl named Jane feels a lump in her breast. She goes to her doctor, where she is told, "Oh, please! There's no way you have it, you're healthy as a horse! Now, go grab some McDonalds and don't be such a worry wart!" Jane goes to another doctor who agrees to have it biopsied, only to confirm that she has Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

If you feel I should mail the letter, please advise me on how I should end it. If you feel I should just forget the whole thing and accept that the fact that she was totally wrong, let me know.

Thank you.

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You don't know if she was wrong.  She may have been analyzing you based on what was known about autism then and how you presented then.  My dear friend was misdiagnosed at age 29 -the lump in her breast apparently was fine.  She was dead at 34 after being diagnosed at age 32 with late stage breast cancer.  Autism is not the same.  It's not terminal, it's not fatal in the way cancer is and it's not diagnosed or analyzed in the same way.  Also why didn't you get a second opinion or why didn't your parents?? Why did you take her word as the gospel? Did she do a formal evaluation?

(and no my dear friend's family did not from all I know contact the doctor who gave the wrong diagnosis -they were too busy caring for their dying daughter and trying to give her as good a life as possible in the short time she had left -because -life is short)

Please don't send this letter. Do you want to sue her for malpractice or just make her feel bad and guilty and apologize for something she may not have done at all? Why will that make you feel better? What positive impact would it have to send a letter all these years later to a former counselor? Retaliation? The need to be "right??"  There are many mis or over or under diagnoses in so many conditions.  Some are heinous, some are forgiveable, so much of a gray area in between.

Please move on from this.

Edited by Batya33
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16 minutes ago, TulipWriter said:

From March 2000 to my high school graduation in June 2003, I saw a counselor named Judy. Her practice is now closed, however I did find her home address.

Do Not Send This. It's completely inappropriate.  It's harassment and since you looked up her address, it's stalking.

Instead speak to your current physician, psychiatrist and therapist and discuss your issues there.

A school counselor is NOT a physician. It was your Parents responsibility to have taken you to a neurologist/pediatrician, not the school system.

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4 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

Do Not Send This. It's completely inappropriate.  It's harassment and since you looked up her address, it's stalking.

Instead speak to your current physician, psychiatrist and therapist and discuss your issues there.

A school counselor is NOT a physician. It was your Parents responsibility to have taken you to a neurologist/pediatrician, not the school system.

How is telling her the dates of when I saw her inappropriate?

Also she was not a school counselor. She was a social worker.

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4 hours ago, Batya33 said:

You don't know if she was wrong.  She may have been analyzing you based on what was known about autism then and how you presented then.  My dear friend was misdiagnosed at age 29 -the lump in her breast apparently was fine.  She was dead at 34 after being diagnosed at age 32 with late stage breast cancer.  Autism is not the same.  It's not terminal, it's not fatal in the way cancer is and it's not diagnosed or analyzed in the same way.  Also why didn't you get a second opinion or why didn't your parents?? Why did you take her word as the gospel? Did she do a formal evaluation?

(and no my dear friend's family did not from all I know contact the doctor who gave the wrong diagnosis -they were too busy caring for their dying daughter and trying to give her as good a life as possible in the short time she had left -because -life is short)

Please don't send this letter. Do you want to sue her for malpractice or just make her feel bad and guilty and apologize for something she may not have done at all? Why will that make you feel better? What positive impact would it have to send a letter all these years later to a former counselor? Retaliation? The need to be "right??"  There are many mis or over or under diagnoses in so many conditions.  Some are heinous, some are forgiveable, so much of a gray area in between.

Please move on from this.

I'm sorry about your friend. That's horrible that she was misdiagnosed. 

It's just that school year after school year was nothing but a struggle (to put it mildly). I became clinically depressed at age 8, began stuttering at age 9, and because we didn't know I was autistic I never "fit in" or functioned socially. I should've been put in SPED or homeschooled. I feel that by telling her I would at least have some closure.

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10 minutes ago, TulipWriter said:

How is telling her the dates of when I saw her inappropriate?

Also she was not a school counselor. She was a social worker.

Social workers can not diagnose anyone with anything. Diagnosis only for doctors and clinical psychologists. Girls are often misdiagnosed. My son wasn’t even diagnosed until 17, he was misdiagnosed as well. We paid for private assessment by a clinical psychologist. 
 

This is bordering on an obsession which can have you charged  for stalking if sent. Leave it be, it isn’t going to change one thing. 

Edited by Seraphim
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2 hours ago, Seraphim said:

Social workers can not diagnose anyone with anything. Diagnosis only for doctors and clinical psychologists. Girls are often misdiagnosed. My son wasn’t even diagnosed until 17, he was misdiagnosed as well. He paid for private assessment by a clinical psychologist. 
 

This is bordering on an obsession which can have you charge for stalking if sent. Leave it be, it isn’t going to change one thing. 

True, she said herself, "I'm just a social worker." And as I said, her memory was HORRIBLE. (Obviously I'm the polar opposite.) I probably could've said the same exact thing for every single session, and it would've been like I was saying it for the first time every time.

Fair enough, I don't want to be charged with stalking. Thank you all!

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1 hour ago, TulipWriter said:

How is telling her the dates of when I saw her inappropriate?

Also she was not a school counselor. She was a social worker.

Social workers cannot diagnose anyone with anything.  That's the job of psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors etc.

It is completely inappropriate because the fact that you searched and found her HOME address to send her a letter accusing her of something.  That's already bordering on stalking. You are way out of line here.

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1 hour ago, TulipWriter said:

I'm sorry about your friend. That's horrible that she was misdiagnosed. 

It's just that school year after school year was nothing but a struggle (to put it mildly). I became clinically depressed at age 8, began stuttering at age 9, and because we didn't know I was autistic I never "fit in" or functioned socially. I should've been put in SPED or homeschooled. I feel that by telling her I would at least have some closure.

Give yourself closure by reminding yourself that she is not the cause of this. At all. You’re looking to blame but please don’t blame her.  She may have made a mistake. She may have misdiagnosed. May have. Even if she did -20 years ago - as we’ve all written there are many reasonable explanations for this. 
You’re not going to get closure. You’re simply going to lash out at an innocent person and if you feel anything it will be shame and guilt that you intentionally hurt someone who was not a medical doctor or psychiatrist and was simply trying to do her job. A really really hard and so often low paying job. You obviously have no idea.
Get closure by reminding yourself it’s like people who yell at the McDonald’s worker for messing up their order and ruining their evening because they just have to blame someone and vent. 

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4 hours ago, TulipWriter said:

How is telling her the dates of when I saw her inappropriate?

Also she was not a school counselor. She was a social worker.

Part of your problem is she was a social worker!  They are not qualified therapists therefore can get things quite wrong.  My SIL got a degree in social wok and I would not let her take care of chickens.

Let this go, I hope you are working with a real therapist.  My brother had a PhD in psychology, her would have been more suitable to help you than a social worker.

Throw that letter out.

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On 12/5/2021 at 2:01 PM, Batya33 said:

 A really really hard and so often low paying job. You obviously have no idea.
 

Now I'm curious, what does social work pay?

Also I wasn't meaning to "blame" her. I just wanted some closure. Not only did she get my autism diagnosis wrong, but when I told her I never want children she said, "Aww, you'll probably change your mind. My daughters said they didn't either, but once they grew up they realized it was the right thing to do." <---this highlighted statement I'm paraphrasing; she didn't say that word-for-word, but totally implied it.

When I told my mom at age 10 that I "never want to get married, never want to have kids!" she said, "Ok, that's your decision." <---I feel the social worker should've said something more along those lines, rather than trying to manipulate me into what SHE thought was right.

Haha, can you see that the more I look back, the more I realize how USELESS that social worker truly was? It's no wonder I wanted some closure. But fine, I won't mail the letter.

On 12/5/2021 at 5:21 PM, melancholy123 said:

Part of your problem is she was a social worker!  They are not qualified therapists therefore can get things quite wrong.  My SIL got a degree in social wok and I would not let her take care of chickens.

I googled Social Work and it seems like they're supposed to do things the same as therapists. So what's the big difference?

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15 minutes ago, TulipWriter said:

I'm curious, what does social work pay?

You need to stop being so hateful. It was Your Parents responsibility to have taken you to the appropriate doctors.

As a minor Your Parents must make all legal decisions regarding your treatment.

Autism doesn't give you a license to be hateful or bully people a out of anger at your circumstances. In fact it has nothing to do with your bad attitude. Autism does not cause that.

As an  adult women you need to take care of yourself and see the appropriate doctors and therapists.

Edited by Wiseman2
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26 minutes ago, TulipWriter said:

Now I'm curious, what does social work pay?

Also I wasn't meaning to "blame" her. I just wanted some closure. Not only did she get my autism diagnosis wrong, but when I told her I never want children she said, "Aww, you'll probably change your mind. My daughters said they didn't either, but once they grew up they realized it was the right thing to do." <---this highlighted statement I'm paraphrasing; she didn't say that word-for-word, but totally implied it.

When I told my mom at age 10 that I "never want to get married, never want to have kids!" she said, "Ok, that's your decision." <---I feel the social worker should've said something more along those lines, rather than trying to manipulate me into what SHE thought was right.

Haha, can you see that the more I look back, the more I realize how USELESS that social worker truly was? It's no wonder I wanted some closure. But fine, I won't mail the letter.

I googled Social Work and it seems like they're supposed to do things the same as therapists. So what's the big difference?

It doesn’t mean she was useless. Not every person meshes with everyone else or understands autism presentation in girls when very little was known by almost anyone about autism 20-15 years ago. Most doctors today know zippy do dah about it , never mind somebody who wasn’t a doctor all those many years ago. 
 

and really it was up to your parents. 

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3 hours ago, boltnrun said:

Social workers advocate for their clients and guide them to appropriate resources. A therapist actually provides services having to do with mental and emotional health.

No wonder she didn't help me much, lol.

 

3 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

You need to stop being so hateful. It was Your Parents responsibility to have taken you to the appropriate doctors.

I'm not being hateful or trying to bully her. As I said, imagine if someone suspected they had cancer and was told, "Oh, don't worry about it" only to find out that it was cancer after all?

Obviously, my parents wanted to get me help. If we knew then what we know now, obviously I'm sure things would've been done much differently.

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15 minutes ago, TulipWriter said:

No wonder she didn't help me much, lol.

 

I'm not being hateful or trying to bully her. As I said, imagine if someone suspected they had cancer and was told, "Oh, don't worry about it" only to find out that it was cancer after all?

Obviously, my parents wanted to get me help. If we knew then what we know now, obviously I'm sure things would've been done much differently.

Yes, but she was not the appropriate person for you to get help from. Again was up to your parents to find the help. My son saw a developmental paediatrician who even misdiagnosed him, so eventually we saw a more appropriate medical professional.  

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23 minutes ago, TulipWriter said:

No wonder she didn't help me much, lol.

 

I'm not being hateful or trying to bully her. As I said, imagine if someone suspected they had cancer and was told, "Oh, don't worry about it" only to find out that it was cancer after all?

Obviously, my parents wanted to get me help. If we knew then what we know now, obviously I'm sure things would've been done much differently.

If a pharmacy technician or a phlebotomist told me I didn't have cancer and I suspected I did I would consult an oncologist. Or at the very least a medical doctor.

This social worker may have meant well but they do not diagnose.

Sending a letter blaming her now would be completely pointless and will not bring you "closure".

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2 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

You need to stop being so hateful. It was Your Parents responsibility to have taken you to the appropriate doctors.

Autism doesn't give you a license to be hateful or bully people a out of anger at your circumstances. In fact it has nothing to do with your bad attitude. Autism does not cause that.

As an  adult women you need to take care of yourself and see the appropriate doctors and therapists.

I second this post.  I have noticed this seems to be a pattern with you, where you tend to dig up things from your past which go way way back in time and you want to resurrect something which you believe someone wronged you in some way or another. Why? What's the point? People do the best they can at the time and understanding at the time.  Digging something up that someone may have said twenty years ago is not about giving you closure. It's about you being obsessed and not letting minor things go.  Making mountains out of molehills.

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Label that letter with ‘savage indignation’ and burn it. 
 

I have a few ‘savage indignation’ letters that needed to be manifest in the world but never sent. It’s definitely Ill adviced to hold onto it hence the burning but some things have to be said, even if it’s just out loud to yourself!

Edited by 1a1a
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4 hours ago, boltnrun said:

If a pharmacy technician or a phlebotomist told me I didn't have cancer and I suspected I did I would consult an oncologist. Or at the very least a medical doctor.

This social worker may have meant well but they do not diagnose.

Sending a letter blaming her now would be completely pointless and will not bring you "closure".

I got my covid booster vaccine from a drug store chain pharmacist last Friday. 

As I was waiting I mentioned to the pharmacist that I'd followed the instructions to drink 2 glasses of water within an hour before the vaccine.  An employee- not sure if she was a pharmacist -overheard and said to me "drink tons of Gatorade!!!"  I am really tired of hearing Gatorade thrown around for every random thing (other than when there is a pressing need for it -like true dehydration in a child with a stomach virus who needs electrolytes fast and refuses to drink plain water, etc).  Gatorade has sugar and/or artificial sugar.  I hate the idea of drinking it and I'm great at drinking tons of water.

Should I email the store -how dare this person demand I down Gatorade when she is not my health provider and may have no appropriate medical or nursing license to give me health advice? What if I am allergic to Gatorade? No.  I let it blow over my head, off my radar and smiled and said thanks.  No, not as life altering as someone saying you don't have cancer- I mean, duh - but same idea - listen to where it's coming from, see the context, get a second opinion as needed if the person lacks the proper licensing etc.

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8 hours ago, TulipWriter said:

 

I googled Social Work and it seems like they're supposed to do things the same as therapists. So what's the big difference?

A therapist has a PhD  degree in psychology (like my brother) and that takes 7 years to obtain.  A psychiatrist is also a medical doctor then specializes in psychiatry.  Likely more than 7 yrs to get that PhD.  They both make a lot of money. Social works make bugger all as they can have a community college level degree.  Like my idiot SIL.  They are not therapists of any sort.

You really need to let this go.  You got bad advice from her, and I think you can see this now.  Move on with your life, get a genuine, proper, licensed therapist who can actually help you.

 

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3 hours ago, Batya33 said:

I got my covid booster vaccine from a drug store chain pharmacist last Friday. 

As I was waiting I mentioned to the pharmacist that I'd followed the instructions to drink 2 glasses of water within an hour before the vaccine.  An employee- not sure if she was a pharmacist -overheard and said to me "drink tons of Gatorade!!!"  I am really tired of hearing Gatorade thrown around for every random thing (other than when there is a pressing need for it -like true dehydration in a child with a stomach virus who needs electrolytes fast and refuses to drink plain water, etc).  Gatorade has sugar and/or artificial sugar.  I hate the idea of drinking it and I'm great at drinking tons of water.

Should I email the store -how dare this person demand I down Gatorade when she is not my health provider and may have no appropriate medical or nursing license to give me health advice? What if I am allergic to Gatorade? No.  I let it blow over my head, off my radar and smiled and said thanks.  No, not as life altering as someone saying you don't have cancer- I mean, duh - but same idea - listen to where it's coming from, see the context, get a second opinion as needed if the person lacks the proper licensing etc.

I have t2 diabetes and Gatorade is something I'd never drink as it's loaded with sugar.  Had some health person suggested that to me, I'd have been quick to point out the bad advice due to diabetes.  However, I see your point, you dont like it so why drink it?  Dangerous advice to give out for many reasons!

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7 hours ago, melancholy123 said:

I have t2 diabetes and Gatorade is something I'd never drink as it's loaded with sugar.  Had some health person suggested that to me, I'd have been quick to point out the bad advice due to diabetes.  However, I see your point, you dont like it so why drink it?  Dangerous advice to give out for many reasons!

So - Gatorade is recommended as often as essential oils by non-health professionals/people who are parents and see themselves as health professionals in my moms groups lol on Facebook.  It's like a knee jerk reaction when the knee jerk should be -with rare exception - "drink more water" because drinking too much water especially when ill is really rare -meaning hard to overdrink plain water in that circumstance.  Gatorade does come sugar free- I've never tasted any variety and don't care to.  And you're right -she flippantly suggested that.  And circling back -I let. it. go.  If I had and had an allergic reaction I'd have reminded myself she was not a physician or a nurse or caring for me.  Yes I would have wanted to vent, wanted "justice" but I would have let it go.

I think social workers who are good and professional know their limits as to what they are permitted to evaluate/diagnose and the boundaries.  I think if the OP's version is accurate of course that therapist should have said "I'm not a [psychologist/medical doctor, etc.] but to me you don't present with autism symptoms.  I encourage you to get another opinion if you have concerns".   My best guess is that the OP's version leaves out some context, some back story, perhaps the OP had said this to her more than once and the therapist had told her -or thought she told her -in the past -to seek a second opinion. 

If the OP does present with autism there's a risk she didn't pick up on cues that would have given context to the seemingly dismissive language. OP -as I wrote above-your anger/frustration is completely misdirected at this person and while she may have made a mistake the effects are nothing that you described- as I and others wrote above.

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