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I Think My Child Has ADHD – When to Know Your Child Needs Help

You know that gut feeling, right?

The one someone wise mentions to you at some point during your early parenting years when you’re seeking help?

Well, maybe I am that person to you, today, right now, as you read this….and you’re gut feeling is telling you that your child needs something more and is unique in some way…

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“The only real valuable thing is intuition.” – Albert Einstein

People would tell me that my now 5.5 year old son has a “strong personality”, or a “one track mind”, or that he is “stubborn”. Others would say to me: “He’s not even three yet. Give him time.”

Labels suck.

Our Defining Moment

The defining moment for me occurred in October 2013. For weeks, my son, then a few months shy of 3 years old, had been regressing across the board. His toileting was literally at a stand still. Yes, that is exactly what I mean. He wasn’t going. Or he was having an accident, then two, then three accidents at school, at home, and so on. {You can read more about that journey in these posts: Why You Need to Take Your Child to a Urologist and Why You Should Act Fast If Your Kids Won’t Poop.}

I worked at the school my son attended that fall. One afternoon, I snuck a glance and caught the eyes of his teacher as he briskly walked through an open space between our classrooms. He was clutching a soiled work mat. His teeth were clenched. All he said was “this was your child.”

You see, working at the school was both a blessing and a curse.

When to Know Your Child Needs Help

One afternoon shortly after that exchange with my son’s teacher, I decided to pick up my son a bit early. At the time I was a few months pregnant and not feeling well. I wandered into my son’s classroom to find it empty. “Oh, yeah, ” I thought as I glanced out the window to see his classmate’s cheerfully playing in the sunshine. I moved toward the door but stopped at a nearby sound.

Shuffling.

Whimpering.

I poked my head around the corner to identify the source of the sound. I saw my son. He was standing in the bathroom with the door wide open, wearing no pants, staring with what I can only describe as a look of sadness and shame. He was holding tightly onto a paper towel scrubbing the seat to clean up the evidence.

The assistant in his classroom whipped around the corner and jumped when she saw me. I could see she was embarrassed but I assured her that all was well as she quickly tried to explain why she had to run to the lost and found to grab clothes for him. This accident was his third today and he had no extra clothes left.

I took a quick, deep breath, noticed the clothing she held in her arms, took my sweater off, and wrapped it around his naked body. I swept him up in my arms and took him to our car whispering in his ear, “I am here. I am here.”

The ride home I suffocated as I literally choked my tears back. I didn’t want him to see my pain. I needed to be calm and a leader. That is what he needs from me.

I withdrew him from school the next day and submitted my resignation.

My child needed me.

Help FB Post

Fast Forward to 2016

My now 5.5 year old is the most well behaved child in his classroom. He is sweet, kind, caring, thoughtful, the best listener, and follows all the rules. Self regulation is the name of his game. That it his nature. He has a big heart. He is a thinker and feels the world around him. He cares so much about people that this quality serves as a weakness and a strength.

His teachers tell me about how fortunate they feel to have had him in their classroom, that he is a special person, and will do big things in life. I smile, feeling the warmth of his hand holding mine, knowing that we’re a ticking time bomb, that in a few short moments, he will unleash on himself, on his family, and on our home.

We are a work in progress but are self aware, proactive, and accepting.

Signs I Knew My Child Needed More

  • He had trouble potty training (and inability to let go of control)
  • He has trouble shifting gears and explodes even when I try to make him a part of the solution (a lag in problem solving skills)
  • “I never appreciated the fact that my oldest son didn’t have temper tantrums.” I said this early on when he was only 18 months thinking this stage was the “terrible twos”…and now four years later, he still has three to four massive meltdowns a day.
  • “He needs his toast cut in four pieces and make sure not to get any jelly on the sides, ” I said to my mother and I noticed she held her breath and her words back.
  • Eye rolling from a pediatric urologist when an abdominal x ray (that I demanded) revealed sever constipation (football sized mass in a 3 year old). Bittersweet parenting moment.
  • “In my experience, the bigger deal mom and dad make of it, the bigger deal it becomes.” His teacher said these words to me. He was three. My gut told me there was a lot more going on and I had to risk being the “crazy mom”.
  • “Something is wrong with your son. Like really wrong,” said a babysitter on her first day. She never returned but her words stung long enough that I knew she was sending a message.
  • My son did not want to be without me. Separation anxiety was at the max.
  • My gut feeling.

Our Sensory Processing Story

  • We don’t qualify as being on the “spectrum”. We don’t have a diagnosis. We do have an extreme child. He is angry. He is explosive. He is aggressive. I hope this story resonates with those of you struggling with these same extraordinary qualities and circumstances with your child.
  • We studied Dr. Ross Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving Approach and Parent Child Interaction Therapy. These approaches were not solutions but certainly help us gain more command of the situation and in helping him.
  • We integrated a Sensory Diet and use many Sensory Integration Tools to help him.
  • We accept and honor who he is and will do whatever it takes to turn his challenging qualities into positive attributes in his adult life.
  • We’re considering medication for him, which breaks my heart. I feel he is truly unhappy. His pain is evident and is all I can process.

That is my story.

Marnie

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