ADHD vs Autism Spectrum Story part 3

I was so sure my son had ADHD. With the blessing of his TK teacher, I had him tested through the public school district. Because my son was not officially in Kindergarten, he would qualify for services through the public school district if needed. After a slew of paperwork, parent and teacher evaluations, my son was ready for testing. He saw a speech pathologist, an occupational therapist, a psychologist and educator who gave general academic testing to see where he was academically. My son was above average in the academic arena. He sounded out his first words at two and a half. His fine motor skills were lacking . He was fidgety during testing. After all the data came back, I was told that my son qualified for OT, to help him with his writing skills and pencil grip, speech therapy if we wanted it, however they did not see any major issues and did not recommend he see a speech pathologist. The psychologist approached me and  asked me point blank;” Have you ever though of possible autism?” Wow, I was a bit taken back. A family member asked me the same thing a while back when they were visiting but they used the word Aspergers. I was told that my son would qualify for a friendship connection class through the school district. This would help with his social skills. When your child has no idea what personal space means, or that a stranger is not your best friend, has issues with losing, its a definite sign they may need help in the social skills department. The classes were great! I was sad to say goodbye to the counselors when his time was up. I was equipped with so many tools and information to help my son. I started him on Omega 3’s, used lists, and cared for him as if he had autism even though I did not have an official diagnosis. My son finally entered Kindergarten and had issues with getting too close to other children and overreacting emotionally. He would cry easily but because the teacher was so phenominal, with her classroom management, he thrived! Fast forward to 1st grade with a less structured environment. The teacher truly understood my son. She herself had a son with  special needs and just got it! Because my son was continuing to struggle with his verbal outbursts and distractibility, I took him to a Neurologist. He was tested and the neurologist told me that he had Aspergers. What was that!!?? It was apparently a high functioning form of autism. He recommended that my son be put on a particular medication to help with his concentration and impulsivity. It would wear off after the school day and I could skip the weekends. Giving my son medication was the Most difficult decision I ever made. I cried, I prayed. It was not a decision I took lightly. It was the Best decision. My son started to pay attention in class. He was improving! The neurologist stressed that the medication was only something he would need until he became older and more aware of his actions and most of the time when kids hit the age of 10, they do not need it any more. My son was on the medication until  December of his 3nd grade year. I decided to take him off of it and what do you think happened? He made the principals list! All A’s! He figured it out. The medication basically trained him. When off of it, he was able to resume and succeed! I took my son to a child psychologist to make sure he was ok. The psychologist diagnosed him with Aspergers. I did research. ADHD and ASD (autism spectrum disorders) which are neurological disorders, can mimic ADHD. As far as I’m concerned ADHD IS on the autism spectrum. No child is alike. This is why they call it the spectrum. Some children fixate on a particular subject, some are very anti social and some overly social. I divulged the information with my family only. If I had difficulty understanding ,so would others. telling my son was NOT in the equation, though many parents do. I did not see any point and saw this being  destructive information rather than anything that would help. My son would think he was dying or was weird. This was his thinking and I knew him better than any bystander. Educating myself wherever I could was key to helping him. Aspergers is mainly a social deficit so I re enrolled him into a private social skills program to continue his therapy. He recently graduated from the program. Fast forward to 4th grade. The teacher said he was a very sweet boy with a kind heart. No behavior issues and did not have the need to sit in the front row all year long! He was on the Honor roll the entire school year. YES! The Aspergers traits were disappearing, and he was learning how to socialize and fit in. Not the most popular kid, but he had friends, or shall I say has friends. Friends….this is what he craves. I pray that 5th grade is even better. My son has come a long way. With early intervention, support and prayer, all is well. I did tell a few friends of my sons diagnosis, however I am still err on the side of caution. Some people just don’t understand or they start to talk in front of their own kids. My son does not need a label. Temple Grandin wrote back to me after I asked her if I should tell my son of his diagnosis. She responded ; “People put too many labels on things. Use it to get services.” Smart woman! And so there you have it! He is doing well, still overly social and a tad quirky but you may never guess he was diagnosed with ASD, not ADHD.

Reward System to get siblings to behave and work Together

 

Siblings fight! Plain and simple! Mine do love each other but because of the 5 year age gap, there are conflicts. My son likes to play with his lego’s Alone! He does not want anyone hearing him as he goes into his own land of make believe and therefore barricades his door so little sister does not enter to interrupt him. She is persistent and raps on his door, yelling and crying to get in. I run upstairs and try to coax her down. When that doesn’t work, I carry her wriggling, fighting body down with screaming tears attached. Arrrg! The conflicts continue throughout the day with one taking another’s toy and running away with it, laughing like a mad scientist and or when they mutually try to one up each other stating who is better at stacking blocks or who ate the most green beans at dinner. “I’m the winner!” “NO! I’m the winner!”

“STOP!!!! the mama is the Winner and will always be the winner!” Ok, so I lose it once in a while. Over the years I have devised reward systems for the children, however they were always crafted on an individual basis. This time would be different! I have a plan!

I decided to use a 10 point system With  a reward! Yes! You don’t work for free and neither do kids, So a reward system for their good work is encouraged. Here is the catch! Both children need to aquire 10 points by the end of the day otherwise neither of them receives their reward. If one received a point for telling the other they love them and the other reciprocates, they both receive a point on a piece of paper. One name in one column and one in the other. If one says a naughty word, a point gets taken away. The children strive to receive the same points as they go. They start to encourage each other to make the right choices and they are forced to stop and think about what they are going to say or do before they do it. Its almost like brainwashing them to have more compassion toward each other as well as me, their parent. Chores get done without moaning or a point gets taken away. Manners start to improve and harmony enters the room. I went easy on them the first few days so they could reach their 10 point goal and feel success. Once they knew the treats and prizes were just around the corner, they would work harder at attaining those precious last points. So, what was the result? Some pretty fantastic harmonious days! My 5 yr old daughter only said the  forbidden “ST” word, as she and my son coined it a total of two times in two days. The naughty word is Stupid! Don’t like it, especially coming out of my 5 yr old. So, this is my point system plan as of now and it is going quite well, I have to admit! Will it last the duration of the Summer? Maybe…but for now its all good and a bag of treats!

 

The ADHD vs Austism Spectrum Story Part 1

This will be Part ONE of my journey with my son starting with his birth

After 5 long years of marriage, I was finally expecting! I was hospitalized for a horrendous bladder infection at 6 months and was also working. Its a good thing I had just hired an employee to take over for me. I was currently teaching a fitness and motor skills program for preschool through 2nd grade. It was a physical job and I needed to stop. I made it through and was fine for the rest of the pregnancy, thankfully! No, I did not want to know the sex of the baby, but many of my dreams indicated that I was going to have a boy! Boy oh Boy! I had a boy! He was born by C section 3 weeks early! We named him while I was in surgery, which was a complete nightmare for me! An unexpected  early surprise. My husband was deemed my hero for sure! He took such good care of me and he changed the baby’s first diaper, and the second and third…and I was completely depressed! I mean come on! The mama is supposed to do that right?! At least the First diaper! My boy’s Apgar score was like 10! When he was born his cry was loud!!! My gosh! I can still hear it! His cry literally sounded like “Wa! Wa! Wa! Wa!”  He was one healthy baby boy!

The nurses saw how exhausted I was after he was born and my state of weepiness. They took him into the nursery so I could sleep. I partially blame the pain meds for my state of mind. They were horrible and made me hallucinate! I do not do well with pain meds today either! My boy was deemed the calmest baby in the nursery. That made me happy. So, when I finally took him home, I was expecting the same. NOT! He would not stop crying, he did not nurse well. He was all over the place. I had No clue how to take care of an infant, after all , I was a preschool teacher. Please God! I prayed, just fast forward him to 3! I will know what to do then! I was so distraught that I asked my husband to please take him back to the hospital because something was wrong. He did have jaundice but we were able to take care of that at home with some sunlight . He had one shot in the hospital for which I at the time did not know I could refuse. I believe it caused his jaundice. He had difficulty at feedings! He had horrible gas and colic and I did everything to help him. Some babies give you  warning when the are hungry or want a change of scenery with the 1, 2 or 3 “cry alarms” Alarm 1 is a soft whimper, 2 is a definite cry and 3 is full blown crying screaming combo. Well, my lil guy went strait to alarm 3! Zero warning! It was exhausting. The saving grace with him was our 100  gallon salt water fish tank. This thing calmed him down every time! My brother could calm him down with something he called “fly baby!” He would hold him like he was super man and fly him around the room. I seemed to have  had a very emotional child on my hands.

From birth, I knew something “was up” At the age of two, he was not speaking. He would say a few words here and there, but could not make a partial sentence. He learned how to sign so things would not be as frustrating for him. I took a sign language class in college before I was married and had retained quite a bit. I was now ready to use my skills with my own child. Those skills were pre planned by God, because It was an actual necessity, not just a cute thing a mom teaches her baby. I was worried about the language delay. A red flag went up for me and this is where my journey began. To be continued…..

All I wanna do is sleep

Seems like after your children turn 5, you should be getting adequate sleep by now?? Ha! Fat chance! Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel for new sleep deprived moms, however getting older has its challenges as well. When we added a brand new bathroom in my 5 yr olds bedroom we were overjoyed with the thought of her using the bathroom at night by herself! Alas! A bathroom of her own! But… Don’t get to excited! At 3:00 am, I hear a screaming child, calling out for mommy! ” mommy! I haf to go potty!!” So in I run to help her out. With two high powered night lights lighting up her room and bathroom, she still manages to be afraid to get up and go. Ok, ok, mommy is here. Zzzzz…. Then back to bed. An hour later, it’s my 10 yr old by my bed side! He had a bad dream. All I wanna do is sleep…