Our BATTLE began at age 3 or 4. He was different. I saw the differences but I wasn’t sure how to voice my concerns.
In head start, he refused to do anything that took any amount of time. Unlike all of the other mothers I rarely received artwork to hang on the fridge. There were plenty of tantrums and phone calls home and the very memorable time he threw a chair because he was angry and frustrated.
His actions earned him 2 days at home which he was very unbothered by. He was home with me where there were no expectations of social skills, transitioning, or endless rules to follow.
His teachers and I agreed that he was spoiled and he would probably grow out of these behaviors. He was after all my baby boy. His teachers cared and that is what got us through the Pre K years with very little incident.
In kindergarten, his teacher and I were on a first name basis. I’m pretty sure she had my cell phone on speed dial. We spoke often about tantrums, over the top emotions, frustration, refusal to transition, and lack of social skills. His behavior was atrocious most days. There was no amount of punishment left.
I began to hear phrases like Conner’s and ADHD. I did my research. ADHD seemed like a good fit however it didn’t explain some of his other behaviors. Things like aversions to loud noises specifically sirens, extreme fears such as water, being picked up by taller men, and a cat’s eyes which he described as “creepy”. Most of all ADHD didn’t explain his attachment to me and failure to relate with children his own age.
We encountered his worst teacher yet in the 1st grade. She had no interest in working with me. She so much as told me that she didn’t have the time to cater to his needs. I was appalled by her attitude. There was an uncomfortable nagging feeling. First graders are still so young and in need of nurturing at home and in school.
She sent the Conner’s home and I was livid. This would be the 2nd time this teacher flubbed the Conner’s. I demanded a meeting with her and the principal threatening to take the grievance all the way to the board of education. If I had to take it that far, I would also be suggesting terminations.
Needless to say the Connor’s was finished correctly and we went on to get an official diagnosis of ADHD. I brought up my other concerns which were noted but brushed off.
School was school for the next few years. There was a lot of struggle, frustration and tears. Things would get better. Things would get worse. There were talks of IEPS but the idea was always shelved for one reason or another.
School based counseling finally brought some relief. Others finally begin to see all of the things I had been concerned with. By 5th grade he was diagnosed with OCD. Again, the diagnosis made sense but it still didn’t encompass all of the behaviors I was noticing.
The subject of an IEP was broached again. By now the school year was ending.
I took him to a psychiatrist that felt as if IEP testing was a good idea. I was given a referral for the testing which was costly and not covered by insurance.
Our JOURNEY began this year. Knowing that my child wouldn’t emotionally survive a traditional middle school, I found a school to meet his needs.
His stress melted away. He loved school. The kids weren’t bullying him. The staff and teachers genuinely cared about the children and worked around and with their quirks and behaviors. His behavior was great every day. Then I got the phone call that would change his life. I initially thought that I was being called in for a routine meeting. Until…
“Ms. —–, We’ve noticed some things that we’re concerned about.”
The news should have been disheartening who wants their child to have mental health issues? It was different for me. I KNEW something was wrong. I was overjoyed that someone else finally saw something beyond the diagnoses of ADHD and OCD. There would be testing to determine the need for an IEP and a GADS evaluation. Now all I needed was patience.
I went into the results meeting more nervous that nothing out of the ordinary would be found. Again, this is something most parents hope for, but I KNEW. I also knew that if the results weren’t as predicted it would mean we were back at square one.
An IEP would go into effect the following Monday. He was behind. I wondered how nobody else caught this or cared until the 6th grade. Then it was time for the results of the GADS. I held my breath more afraid of starting over than anything “negative.” He only needed an 88 he scored 102. This score meant a high/probable diagnosis for Asperger’s. I stared at the scores relieved and thankful to finally know.
All of the puzzle pieces were starting to come together for me now it was time to get them to fit together for him.
Because we’ve dealt with the symptoms for so long without answers nothing about the news was devastating. My job now is to educate myself, help him, and to educate close family members on how to care for him.
To Be Continued….