It must be alliteration day, that title is even making me roll my eyes, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out a better one. It fits like an Isotoner glove.
I’ve written over at Mom-Spot.com a couple of times, I am a contributing blogger there, though with everything we have been going through in Casa de Wench, with illnesses, and other issues, I only recently submitted another blog after an absence of a couple months.
I was going to write about my temper (towards poor Mister…not towards my kids, never towards them), and how sometimes I feel I need anger management, or at the very least, couples counseling with the Mister, and relationship issues, but that can wait. It seems *this* entry is pressing against the front of my head more urgently.
My most recent post at Mom-Spot.com was about how, back in October, I was diagnosed with ADHD, and how SchoolGirl’s teacher believes that SG has ADD. I do too, but do not want to medicate unless it is the LAST possible option. Long story short, I’m fighting with the school to get some non-medicinal help for SG. That can be detailed in another post as well, and I do not want to tell SG’s story until a resolution has been found. Call me naive but I prefer a happy ending, and I don’t want to post until I’ve gotten somewhere in my battle.
The thing is, with SG’s suspected diagnosis, I have been doing a lot of research, a lot of reading, trying to find ways to help her here at home in the meantime until there’s something in place to help her at school. I had a very emotional reaction to SG’s suspected issue. I wasn’t too affected by my own diagnosis, because I was just like “Hm. Looking back, that makes a lot of things make sense now”. But SG…these are uncharted waters for me, and very often, it feels like I am navigating the stormy seas by myself. There is a nagging sense of helpless fear. Fear of what, I don’t know, but that fear has begun to cloud everything regarding my children.
BabyBoy…he did pretty good with babbling and certain sounds. He sporadically says “hi”, but he loves to wave and clap his hands. His preferred form of communication is non-verbal. He communicates rather well with me. I know what he wants by his gestures, he can sign that he wants to eat, although he prefers to look at me, clench his hands to his torso and grunt out “Unnnnhhh!!!”. He says Mama. He said it to me this morning when I came out of the bathroom. He’s been walking since he was 8 months old, so if he’s a little behind in speech, I’m not too worried about that.
I’m lying. No wait. I’m not lying. Because I’m not worried. I am mind-numbingly paranoid, even though the rational part of my brain says “Don’t worry, he’s affectionate, sociable, etc…who cares if he’s not talking your ear off like his sisters did?”
But it’s kind of hard to not worry. Attention issues can sometimes run in families. I have ADHD. Two of my brothers have been diagnosed as ADD. My father probably has some sort of undiagnosed Attention Issue. My mother probably has ADHD too.
I don’t come from healthy stock. At least, not on my mother’s side (sorry Mom…). There’s diabetes, cancers, heart issues, gastrointestinal disorders, macular degeneration, degenerative disk disorders, reproductive issues, ASDs, mental health issues, learning disabilities…I seem to have, so far, escaped most of that list. I don’t have diabetes, my fertility is…well let’s just say all the kids were conceived on some form of contraception and leave it at that, there’s no problems there, haha. The only things I have going on are ADHD, post-partum depression, and a few digestive issues that I won’t gross you out with. Oh and mild dyslexia that I’m not sure is actually true dyslexia or just my mind getting impatient with my eyes and just making crap up to fill in the blanks on signs, in books, etc.
So yeah, I get paranoid about my son. I even get paranoid about ToddlerGirl, sometimes thinking “Is it really possible for a kid to be that sweet, happy, yet incredibly sensitive with very easily hurt feelings?”
With TG, sometimes Mister and I will make a joke. And it will make her cry. We have to be very careful what we say, because it just seems like, I don’t know. Like one night, the girls were asking me 20 million times a minute (I counted!) what we were having for dinner. Finally Mister looks at TG and says “Poop. We’re having poop for dinner.” Well, you would think someone had given TG a kitten and then punched it. Instead of thinking that her Mommy and Daddy would never feed her poop, she believed we were having poop for dinner. At this point, I need to point out that we had made a similar joke before and told her many times we would never actually feed her poop.
And the invasive paranoia makes that little doubting voice creep up and whisper “that can’t be normal”. I fight it, and I don’t talk about it, but the prospect of something being different about SG has me terrified. I don’t like calling it Attention Deficit Disorder. I don’t like calling her probable ADD or my ADHD a “disorder”. It’s a difference. A difference in how we think and process information. I have read nothing to make me believe that it is a ‘disorder’, that there is something ‘wrong’ with us. I’ve done so much reading. So much research.
I have learned that for now, I cannot give SG a multiple step direction, or I can very well count on only the first step being followed. Establishing routine habits is HARD. I have been drilling it into her head that when she is done eating, her dishes go in the sink. After nearly two months, she was finally getting to a point where she could do it without reminders.
One night, we had hoagies for dinner. SG ate half of hers, maybe less than that. So Mister tells her not to throw it away, to just leave it on the table. Some time later, SG is hungry and Mister asks about her sandwich. A look flickered across her face that said “oops”, and she replied that she had thrown it out. Mister asked her why she threw it out when he told her not to, and SG replied that she didn’t know.
I know exactly why she threw it out. I’ve been drilling in her head that she has to pick up after herself when she is done eating. She initially did as Mister said and did not throw it away, but she probably walked past the table later and saw her sandwich there. Gone was Mister’s directive to not throw it out, and instead what came to her mind was the request I’d repeated a zillion times over: “Clean up after yourself”. So she cleaned up after herself, and then when she was hungry again, and was asked about her sandwich, it reminded her of Mister telling her not to throw it away.
It’s my fault, really, I should have wrapped it up or something and put it in the fridge so she wouldn’t have heard me in her mind telling her to clean up. I’ve tried to educate people on the methods I’ve found that are working best with her, but like I said, it feels like I am navigating this alone.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not bashing Mister. When he and I were growing up, ADD was something that boys were diagnosed with very often, and most times those kids were given Ritalin or some other drug so their parents wouldn’t have to deal with their overactive boys. ADD was not something little girls were diagnosed with, and the fact that ADD manifests differently between the genders makes it all the more difficult to fathom. And of course, there’s probably the “No no…not my kid” thing going on. God knows I certainly grappled with it. I cried myself to sleep quite a few nights. But denial and crying weren’t going to get me anywhere closer to getting help and a diagnosis for SG, and they weren’t going to help me try to adapt my parenting methods to the way her brain works.
Because her brain DOES work. She is a brilliant, funny, sweetheart of a kid. She’s talented, she’s smart, she’s my beautiful eldest daughter. Her brain is not broken. I’m not religious, nor would I really consider myself Christian, but she is, as is said in the Bible, “Fearfully and wonderfully made”. There is nothing wrong with her. Her brain works, and works amazingly.
I think a HUGE wakeup moment for me was when we were in Ollie’s, looking at the books, and I saw one of those “Everything blah blah book”. This one was “Everything for the parent of a special needs kid” book. And, flipping through, I saw there was a lot of information on learning “disorders”. I showed it to Mister, and he said “Our kids don’t have special needs”. I swear, I had no idea where my reply came from, because I had never thought of SG as having special needs. But I simply said “SG does.”
There’s a preconception attached to the words “special needs”. People immediately think of, well…Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, birth defects, etc. Goodness knows that in spite of my openmindedness, I had that misconception too. But it’s not true. A child with special needs is a child who, for whatever reason, needs certain plans of action/accommodation/etc above what their neurotypical/non-handicapped/etc counterparts need. It could be something as simple as being able to go sit in a quiet corner of the classroom, away from stimulation (for kids with sensory issues). Special. Needs. Meaning needs that are different from their peers. It doesn’t mean they’re dumb, it doesn’t mean something is “wrong”. My aunt had Down Syndrome and there wasn’t a damn thing “wrong” with her. She was one of the most “right” people I ever knew.
So yes, I can understand Mister’s reluctance to do any of the reading I have asked him to do. Heck, to be honest? I didn’t like reading about it either. But she’s my kid. I had to do it. Someone has to. Someone has to step up to bat and advocate for her, and who better than me to do it?
But Mister, it’d be really, REALLY cool and awesome of you if you’d take a moment from the ENE newsite and check out some of these sources. No, it isn’t Fukushima’s nuclear troubles. But it’s something way, WAY more important.
It’s our daughter.
(*Note* Mister is a wonderful father. I’m not claiming that I am perfect, and I am not saying he is. I’m not saying he’s a monster either. But me nagging him in the comfort of our home to read up on stuff didn’t work. So maybe me asking him publicly, along with providing him some links to click on will do the trick. Because god knows I had no idea what I was trying to find when I started, so maybe that’s a little daunting to him. But anyone reading this is welcome to check out the sources, and support, that I have found.)
ADD/ADHD Forums (This forum is an awesome source of information, commiseration, encouragement, and ideas)
Additude Magazine (A great resource, tons of articles on everything from parenting to living with your own AD/HD)
Attention Deficit Disorder Resources (Articles, community, support, general info)
Attention Deficit Disorder Association (Resources for adults with AD/HD)
CHADD (Children and Adults with ADD, resources, articles, information, advocacy for adults and children with AD/HD)