Most of us mother's out there who have always wanted to have children never think of the scary battles we have to endure as our children grow up. We never think of the possibilities our children can develop this or develop that or never think of those "Well this won't be a struggle with my kid." Truth be told, unfortunately, there is always a possibility for everything no matter the things we do correctly during pregnancy or the healthy diet we provide for our children. I am one of those mothers who thought these things and who is a strict health nut, but I never realized what struggles or battles this would entitle. Here is my story.
When my son was born he was the most precious little peanut a mother could ask for. He was such a beautiful baby and I loved him already. Little did I know, there was more I was not aware of. My son was born with jaundice, a breathing apnea, his stomach was sensitive to lactose, and he had an infection. He spent five days in the NICU. A mother's worst fear is something going wrong during childbirth. We can't plan or prepare for these possibilities, we just have to face these challenges as they arise. Not knowing what is wrong right away is probably the scariest feeling especially since we all know doctor's don't like to give us the 411 right away. I made sure the whole time he was in NICU, I spent as much time with him as I could. Seeing your child with a breathing tube and IV's is not something I would ever wish upon another mother to ever have to go through. It's a sad heartbreaking feeling but you just have to push through for that little child you are fighting for. I can tell you that spending every moment you can with your newborn is not a moment I would ever take for granted and when he was finally able to come home, I couldn't be happier.
He didn't start walking til around the age of one. I just had these gut feeling from the beginning when he first started developing that there was something off but then again us mothers are always overprotective so we do everything we can to keep our child safe. The struggles with the allergies to lactose was still in play but as he kept developing, there were more challenges I would have to face. His speech delay was one of those challenges. The way he spoke, the words he tried to pronounce and the fact that he could not speak complete sentences was only half the battle. I talked to his pediatrician with my concerns and she sent him to a specialist for an evaluation of his speech. He was later diagnosed with a speech delay and placed into therapy. He was only two years old.
From there, I started noticing other things like he would smack himself in the head when frustrated. He also rocked back and forth quite a bit and he would always line up his toys by color and what type of toy. I even tried a theory where I would move one his toys a different way to see if he would notice and sure enough, he would move it back the way he placed it before. The challenges continued as potty training time was among us. I had read many books and tried many many different things but he just wasn't understanding the concept of poop and pee has to go into the potty. Not to mention because of the struggle with his speech, he didn't really know how to tell me he needed to go to the bathroom or how he was feeling. Repetition is a major component in potty training and you really just have to continue. With him, putting him on the potty backwards and letting him draw with dry erase markers on the back of the toilet seat was a real winner in getting him to potty train. He was finally potty trained at a mere four years old.
The challenges didn't end there. I faced super hyperactivity from him, he didn't know how to interact or what to do with other children, he would still smack himself in the head out of frustration, he would rock back and forth sort of chanting his own made-up words sort of like he was in his own world, he would also repeat the same things over and over again until he got what he wanted and the speech was still a problem. I decided to get him evaluated through a special needs preschool so he could go to a preschool that specialized in children that were delayed. He was qualified just by the simple fact of his speech and the hyperness was a concern for the school. He went to school five days a week for two-and-a-half hours. It honestly really helped him. I am so glad he went because it helped with structure, social skills, interacting with children and learning. He was later diagnosed with developmental delay and severe ADHD. This was all from the diagnosis of the preschool from three meetings later to see how he was progressing. The school gave me an IEP for him and suggested special needs kindergarten with a smaller classroom for him and continued repetitive structure. I agreed because this school he would be going to offered occupational therapy, speech therapy, and more beneficial things for him.
For me, I had more concerns. As you mothers know, we moms ask too many questions, but when it comes to our kids there is never enough answers. I had tried putting him in daycare for him to get more interaction with children and a major plus was this daycare also was a bit of a continuing education for him. My mind was in the right place for him and I really thought this would help him even more. Well, I didn't think things could get any more unreal. He would roam around the classroom as if unsure what to do and since daycare had really no strict structure, I think he was somewhat anxious with lack of direction. He would destroy other children's projects for no reason, he would make a mess of toys when he was throwing fits, didn't like sharing with other kids and would get nervous when another child invaded his play space because he thought they would take his toys, argue and disrespect the daycare teachers, and if he didn't like stopping one activity to start another without transition warning, he would just get crazy. I tried explaining to him many times we have to respect the teachers, we have to be nice to kids, share and do as we are told. No matter how many times I tried to talk with him, the whole daycare thing just was not working so I pulled him out of it. I talked with his pediatrician again and explained the situation to her. She thought what I was telling her was unreal. She and I both thought maybe it was something with that particular daycare but I didn't keep him in long enough to even find that out. She referred him to a therapist, a psychologist (for the ADHD) and a neurologist for autism screening and his developmental delay. I had even spoken with his preschool teacher and expressed my concerns with her because I never got so many negative feedback from her like the daycare had given me. She was fairly upset about what she had heard because my son had never thrown toys, ruined kids projects or disrespected teachers when he was in class. But for me, I believed it was because it was a more structured environment and plus I just don't think the daycare was qualified to handle a special type of child. Between the preschool and the things that were going on in the daycare, things were becoming more and more clear to me. My son was definitely struggling more than I had even realized.
Since getting his referrals from his pediatrician and the challenges we faced with his special needs preschool, he does not go to any type of unstructured facility. He is in his special needs kindergarten class, he sees a therapist once a week who has already diagnosed his autism, and is scheduled to see a psychologist and a neurologist. The therapy really is helping him with one on one interaction with appropriate play, manners and acquiring more talking words. His kindergarten teacher has been wonderful. She calls me occasionally and will write notes each day about how he is doing each day. He has structure, repetition, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and different education tools to teach him properly. I have talks with him each and every day to remind him what is expected of him in school, and I always give him praise when he is doing something correctly. I can tell you now, it really does make a difference. Having a child with ADHD, developmental delay, and autism is a real-life challenge each day, but no matter what our kids depend on us and no matter the struggle, there is always more we can do to help our kids succeed. I will tell you what I have done that really helps with this type of child. At home, he is on a structured schedule each day because a strict repetitive plan is necessary for this type of child so that they understand what is expected and it truly helps them understand by the repetition and of course always make sure you use to transition from one activity to another so the child understands what will be expected next which does help with tantrums. Simple straight to the point rules specifically to this type of child so they understand the things that are just not acceptable. Redirection is another helpful and safe way to get the child's mind off of things that may not be possible at the time and also to avoid tantrums and keep the child from repeating the unacceptable behavior. Each and every day is still a challenge but over the course of now five years, I have been doing whatever I can do to help my child and to continue in the aid of his future. Like I said earlier, us mothers will always do what we have to do to provide the best for our children and mothers please remember, always ask questions and if you have a gut instinct something doesn't seem right, speak up. We know our children and we must stay aware!