So, this is all new for me. I’m not someone who usually shares much about my life–unless you happen to be close family/friends. My Facebook profile consists of a few updates on my kids each year–today’s equivalent of the lengthy Christmas letters my mom used to get when I was a kid. Other than that, I’m pretty private & it works for my family. But, things have been really stressful lately. After years of wondering, kind of deep down knowing, our 5-year-old son was officially diagnosed with severe ADHD and mild autism. The difference between assuming & officially knowing is just crazy. Before, we just talked to his doctors about it–we kept him busy with sports, fidget toys, Legos, play therapy. After, well, now occupational therapy & ABA therapy enter our lives. Not to mention, filing for Medicaid waivers we never knew existed so that we don’t go bankrupt getting our son the help he needs. Getting my son to therapy is now a full-time job. I love him to pieces & will do whatever it takes to make sure that he can grow up a confident, able adult–but when you’re also trying to raise a 2-year-old girl, it’s rough. So, I decided I’m going to use blogging as my therapy. I don’t know how often I’ll write or whether or not it will work as I intend it to, but this mom has to do something to keep her wits about her.
Now for some background info. My husband & I have been together for 12 years–9 of those married. We’ve braved crazy student loans (that we’re still paying), health problems (blood clot, autoimmune disorder) & everything else that life has thrown at us–all before having kids. So, when our son came, we figured we’ve got this covered! For the first year, he was basically your typical baby–reached all of his milestones, either on time or ahead of time; was alert, happy–just a perfect little boy. Even when we started to notice some things that seemed a little off, he was so smart & happy, his former doctor just wrote it off as him being an energetic boy & that we were over thinking things. The constant movement, arms flapping, blank stares–his doctor said it wasn’t a big deal. My son jumps–a lot. Like, all the time. It started when he could stand up on his own. And he remembers everything. At 1, he could recite whole Dr Seuss books to us–that’s how good his memory is. But, the jumping is always what stuck out. He would jump anytime he was up–whether he was talking to us, playing in his playard, watching tv. The jumping was non-stop. And really, it’s still going on–he’s 5 now and honestly, the jumping is the hardest part. The only thing that stops it is Legos, building things. We know it’s going to affect him when he starts kindergarten. We know how it affects people when they’re around him. It’s also hard for us to tell him to stop because he’s just so happy when he does it. He just can’t help it. Every year, we’d bring up our concerns to his pediatrician and every year, we’d hear the same thing. “Get him involved in sports!” Well, we’ve tried numerous sports and all my son wants to do is jump & do his own thing, while the other kids follow the rules. My son would rather talk to the coach or the other parents. After we had his 4 year checkup & his doctor again told me the same thing, I decided to get him another pediatrician. I was tired of being told that I was overthinking something. My sister has autism. However, she wasn’t diagnosed as a kid–autism then & autism now are completely different. Now, we know not to treat the kids differently if it’s not necessary. Back then, the school’s solution was to just put my sister in the special education class with the other kids they didn’t know what do with. Growing up with her, seeing how she was & is, it made it easier for me to see the signs with my son early on. So, after we switched pediatricians, his new doctor could see just by meeting our son, that he definitely had some level of ADHD going on. She had us fill out the questionnaires, along with his pre-k teacher. The results came back with her convinced he was positive for ADHD and perhaps slightly autistic.
So, we first tried meds & that failed spectacularly. Our son became even more anxious & melancholic–it was so hard seeing him like that. After 3 weeks on the meds, we decided to go a different route. His doctor suggested play therapy. So, we started play therapy. After doing that for a bit, his therapist suggested we take him to one of the major hospitals in Chicago and get a formal diagnosis. Again, not being all that familiar with this stuff, that’s what we did. Now, after 6 months we have our official diagnosis. For me, frankly, it’s a relief to be done with all the testing and have “proof”. We now know for sure and we can move forward with their recommendations and get him on the right track. But, it’s stressful too. Explaining to family, for one, that this is what’s going on, has been an ordeal. Some even thought we were crazy for seeking the official diagnosis. They took it as, “How could you say your son is imperfect???” Ugh. We don’t see it that way at all! After the extensive testing he went through, we now see where his strengths are. So now we can take those strengths and teach him how to use them for his benefit. And perfection is impossible! No one is perfect and to put that expectation on kids is terrible. It’s stressful, because some of these people will never understand. I really do my best to not care–my husband is really good at that, but me, not so much. The everyday people we pass in the stores, I could care less what they think of me. But family, it’s not the same. Anyway, I’m trying not to ramble–this is where we are today. And it’s one big crazy mess.
Whew–you know, I feel a little bit better already 😛
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