Monday, May 17, 2010

Centrelink and me - Forms, Reports and more Forms.

The application forms (for the Disability Support Pension) that arrived in the mail almost sent me to clean the shower with a toothbrush. It was almost a ream of paper.

Baby steps, Lisa, baby steps.

Step One. Obtain a Treating Doctor Report.
But Dreamer hadn't been to a doctor in years. His paediatrician of about 8 years standing had disappeared. I had nothing.

Step One, part 2. Deal with the Department of Health, and obtain Dreamer's medical history. That should help at least.
Put in a 'Request for Medical History' request. More forms!
Receive letter stating that I could not access another person's medical history, and that Dreamer would have to request it.
Request the documents again, in writing, in triplicate, this time with Dreamer's signature on the forms.
Receive a 2 inch thick envelope of photocopies.

Step One, part 3. Find a new treating doctor.
Phone, phone, phone, "I'm looking for a nice, aspie-friendly, teen friendly adult psychiatrist".
I didn't want a child psychiatrist, or a paediatrician, because in a couple of years, Dreamer would outgrow them. I really didn't want him to have to transition to another doctor, and I wanted a doctor who would be able to prescribe medication if needed in the future.
Found one!

By this stage it was October, and I was able to get an appointment for February. Specialist waiting lists are such fun...

On the bright side, I didn't have to deal with those pesky Centrelink forms for quite a while.

February rolled around, and the psychiatrist wanted to 'see' Dreamer for a few weeks, and read his previous medical histories before writing the Treating Doctor Report for Centrelink.

Two months, and one overworked credit card later, we had taken Step One.

Step Two - Completing the forms.
Steeling myself, I allocated an afternoon to completing the rest of the forms. The hardest part up to this stage was answering the questions honestly, quelling the urge to say "no, he's fine".

With each stroke of the pen, I had to force myself to focus on what Dreamer couldn't do. I felt I was writing him off.

I knew that Dreamer would have to read the forms, and know what was written.
How, after all these years of being positive, supporting Dreamer's abilities, could I do this to him?
Spin. Put a positive spin on it. Mummy Spin Doctor.

We talked. We discussed ability and disability. We spoke about how it wasn't wrong to accept help with disability, and how these forms were only about the dis-. Centrelink didn't want to know about the -ability part. Dreamer is well aware of his disabilities. He knows he can't do 'stuff' like other kids his age. It was hard, still to put it out in the open, on paper, in black and white, and hand it to a stranger in a Centrelink office.

I was proud of him (and myself) for going through with it.

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