My son has always been a ray of insanity and sunshine. A ball of endless energy, that earned him the nickname, Hurricane. He is RIDICULOUSLY smart. And I am not just saying that as a mom. Other people told me too, so it MUST be true. When he was 6 months old he chased a moving train toy across the floor, then when he caught it, proceeded to flip it over, study it , and try to understand how it would “go”. He took his finger and pushed on the wheels, then kept his hand on it and set it back down. When it did not move again, he let it go then NODDED, as if he understood. “OK so that thing moving around and around makes it work. Cool”
When he learned to walk at a year old, he never did it in front of us. I always suspected he was walking. But I let him crawl and fake wobble. One day, I left him with a friend while I ran some errands, and he walked clean across her playroom. She called me and said “Why didn’t you tell me he was walking?” I said “He isn’t.” A week later at his grandmothers he was walking pushing his little “push toy car” around her screened in porch. He heard some blue jays and squirrels fighting over peanuts in the yard and let go of the car to run over and investigate. Halfway between the car and the porch door he froze. He looked at us both, looked like he might fake wobble, then instead just grinned. AND SHRUGGED HIS SHOULDERS! And kept on striding
cockily confidently towards the door. Rotten bugger.
He would walk around the He started to talk around 13 months. And he never shut up.
Is that really a shock? His mommy IS a chatterbox He was very well spoken, including, using words in proper context NO two year old should use. We moved when he was 4, and the entire neighborhood was soon telling me how smart he was. But if he had a reaction to something, it was extreme. And they would all say “WOW, I wouldn’t expect Hurricane to act like that. How old is he again?” I started to wonder…
SO, when we had many more moments like these, I started to be concerned about his more trying behavioral situations. He would suddenly have these odd epic meltdowns, over silly things. His shirt felt funny. His clothes/blanket/hands didn’t “smell right”. He would be fine in a small group then all of the sudden get super cranky and run and hide. He would get anxious any time his routine deviated, even if it was a surprise. My normally cheerful and gregarious boy would suddenly be shy and standoffish, but in a super sullen way. I figured he was just having a moment. A stage. But then it didn’t get better. It got worse. WAY worse. He started to withdraw in any social situation where there was more than about 5 kids. I started to do things with our playgroup, with larger groups of kids, and he would literally just shut down. He entered the school environment, and it got even worse. Emotionally he was acting like a 3 year old. At almost 6, this was concerning to me. As a student studying to become a special education teacher, I was seeing behaviors I see in my classroom observations. I wondered if maybe my son might be “on the spectrum”. School has been nearly impossible for him. He is impulsive, sullen, loud, disruptive.He was demanding, then shy. He would get frustrated. Every day I was getting notes about his behavior. I was getting frustrated. They would do one to one time and pull him out and he was fine. The same mostly well behaved kid I had at home. So what gives? I was at the end of my rope. I took him first to our totally amazing pediatrician.
Dr. H has been our doctor for about 3 years now. We talk and she actually listens. She follows up and calls her patients parents to be sure we are doing ok after a visit. After our meeting about his issues she took her pages of notes and told me to let her think on it and she would contact me in a few days. I got the e-mail just a day later. She thought he might have Sensory Integrative Disorder, which was on the Autism spectrum. She recommended I see an OT and get him evaluated by both a developmental pediatrician and a psych. I was so happy to know I was not insane. But what this potential diagnosis meant for me was that I was NOT A FAILURE AS A PARENT. You see, before I had Hurricane I spent 15 years as a preschool teacher and professional nanny. I had successfully raised 22 other kids. And my own child was SO difficult. And so trying. I just HAD to be doing something wrong. Right? I was so excited, I told my Mother in Law and mom about it. A reason. FINALLY. And I was yelled at.
“There is NOTHING WRONG with him! Don’t you DARE let the doctors label him! He is NOT Autistic! What is wrong with you? It IS you. You spoil him. You baby him anyway. You were a helicopter mom. Stop letting them tell you that. He is normal. He is being (insert age here)”
So I started to second guess things I was doing. I was even more frustrated. I had a long talk with my sister in law that put it in perspective. With a label, he might miss out on things as he continues through school. He might not be tested for a gifted program, even though he is showing early signs of amazing math ability. That part I get. I think my moms both think Autism =Rainman. Which is not at all accurate. But if there is something wrong, shouldn’t I be allowed to hear it, understand it, and perhaps CHANGE my parenting style to adapt to his unique situation? I want to be the best mom I can be. And if a label will help my husband and I understand him, and to do things differently, then so be it. You are right. Its for me. AND for him. GET OVER IT.