Katie - posted on 05/23/2010 ( 2 moms have responded )
For years, I had struggled as a mother. O was a handful on the good days, an absolute terror on the bad days. He bit people. He hit people. He was rude and demanding. He knew the rules, but he couldn't seem to follow them. He seemed incapable of genuine empathy. He did not play well with others and could never lose.
It became routine for me to pick him up from preschool, to hear about how he was acting out and they weren't able to control him. Or that his emotions are intense, he seems out of sorts, he was really weepy today, etc.
I tried everything to get him to behave. I did the reward charts and celebrated his good behavior. I punished him (usually by "grounding" him, for his bad behavior). I tried bribes, threats, promises.
It wasn't long before I really started doubting my capabilities as a mother. I would look at the other children with their mothers and think, "Why can't my son do that? What am I doing wrong? What's wrong with me?" I clearly explained to O what my expectations were. I was consistent with my parenting. Still... nothing seemed to work.
I wasn't the only person who thought I was a failure as a mother. Other Moms didn't have any viable advice for me. Parents of O's classmates gossiped about me. People complained, shook their heads at me, and told me what I should and shouldn't be doing with my son. I cried constantly, thinking I just wasn't cut out to be a mother.
I read "The Out of Sync Child" cover to cover more than once. It went into explicit detail of sensory issues. Many of which O exhibited and introduced Autism Spectrum Disorders, such as Asperger's. I remember very clearly the feeling I had when I read those words. Could it be? Does my son have something, some "disorder", that would cause him to behave the way he does? This fits! I finally had some hope. The more I read, the more I knew, without a doubt, that O had Sensory Integration Dysfunction and possibly Asperger's Syndrome. I just knew. Several months later, we're building the official diagnosis.
I suspected an issue since he was 2, and was sick of hearing he'll grow out of it or he's only (insert age here) or just being a boy, so I had him evaluated at the beginning of the year and was written off to the same immaturity that all 4 year old boys have. I was angry & frustrated beyond belief. As a Mom, I know things about my child that our families and friends do not - it is instinctive/innate.
After spending every Tuesday in his class, assisting his teachers and observing his behaviors I was CONVINCED it wasn't in my head. I BEGGED the OT at his school for 2.5 hours of her life to observe him for 1 class to prove to me right or call me a crazy oversensitive Mom so I can leave her alone. FINALLY, this time it was different. She noticed the sensory issues that were GLARINGLY obvious, right off the bat and then the others struggles and issues were noticed as well. The extent of his struggles and needs can be classified as falling into the Autism Spectrum as Apsergers. This was the news I go the Thursday before Mothers' Day. And it's changed my world.
Now we need to find out how to make it "official." His teacher, the OT and I are all on the same page but to make it on the IEP we need the diagnosis or certification. If anyone knows who can evaluate my 5 year-old in Metro-Detroit PLEASE let me know.
My goal is make other people understand is that there is nothing "wrong" with Owen - this is the way he is and what we need to do is teach him/assist him in establishing appropriate social relationships and conversations with those around him and how to cope with his own needs. This is no different, other than the degree or extent, than what is taught to any other 4 or 5 year old in school. Now we have something to build on and map out the future with. It will constantly evolve as will O, and it will always be a challenge but he is destined to succeed.
It's an incredibly emotional & frustrating ride so far with many more bumps ahead. There are good days and bad ones but it's officially not in my head, so that's a start. And the good days, make it all worth it.