I was just trying to help my son with his fourth grade math paper, and he became so frustrated, it was like having to talk him down from a ledge. His frustration takes off like a rocket and trying to rein it back in is like trying to rope the wind, at times. He’ll erase the paper so ferociously that it tears, especially if there is not much left of the eraser (he’s in such a state that he won’t even notice if there is eraser left on the pencil until he’s already tried to use it).
He’ll know in his head what he wants to do, but the translation between his mind and the paper is often not a smooth one. And then there’s the issue of multiplication tables. These are not ingrained in his mind. Going over and over and over these tables does not make his brain access the answers any quicker or easier. He has to figure the answer. Luckily, he can count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s. He can do 7’s by adding the answers to a 2 times _ and a 5 times _. He works his way around his times tables, and that takes time.
At this point, grammar is Greek. Punctuation is not happening yet. And patience is something that other people have. These are things I know about my son. I understand him. And I have learned that he gets confused and not sure of what’s being asked of him in school. This is when, instead of being able to ask for help and receive clarity, he still most often shuts down, floats out of his body, and daydreams. And for some reason, if he has a cold, or is congested, the thinking process becomes even more difficult.
Why do I write about this? Why share our personal, daily challenges? Because if you have a child who is not wired like mainstream children, you may live with some of these same issues and frustrations. And you may be able to relate. But if your child enjoys going to school, and enjoys doing worksheets on their own time, that is something I can not relate to, except in my own childhood.
* * * * * * * * *
I recently read a fantastic article called, Five Stages of The Special Needs Parent. I never really considered myself a parent of a “special needs” child, just a different needs child. But when I read these five stages, I related on a level that surprised me.
Stage 1 Pre-diagnosis: infanthood – preschool Central theme: lost fantasy of parenthood
- “The experience of parenting this child is nothing like I thought it would be.”
- “I can’t enjoy playgroup, story time at the library or other chances to spend time with other parents and kids, because my child’s behavior is too hard to manage.”
- “I expected standard discipline tactics to work, but they just don’t. I seek out new parenting strategies, but they don’t work either.”
- “Other adults—family, parents of other kids, even strangers in the grocery store—believe I’m the cause of my child’s behavioral problems.”
- “My child’s behavior problems must be my fault. I’ve stopped trusting my parenting instincts. I’m not the calm, firm but loving parent I thought I would be.”
- “I give this child my all. I have no energy left for myself, my spouse or my other children.”
I experienced every single one of these things, except I never thought my son’s behavior problems were my fault. However, being pushed to my limits on a daily basis brought out sides of me that were not firm but loving at all. And what was most difficult was the last one: I have no energy left for myself or my spouse. When my son was an infant and toddler, I was fried.
Stage 2 Evaluation & diagnosis: preschool – early elementary Central theme: consumed with research
- “If we can just put a name to this problem, then we’ll be able to fix it.”
- “In the back of my mind I expected this diagnosis, so why is it so hard to hear it?”
- “If I research and learn enough, I’ll find a solution to my child’s problems.”
- “Intellectually, I can accept that my child needs medication, but my feelings about medicating him are complex and often painful.”
When Little Man was in preschool, we had one main diagnosis, with a bunch of what was called developmental delays. I was definitely in the stage of “if I research and learn enough, I’ll find a solution to my child’s problems.” Medication hadn’t come into play yet; that came later.
Stage 3 Learning as we go: early elementary – middle school Central theme: “I ache for my child when…”
- “I dread hearing the phone ring, because I’m afraid it’s another call from school.”
- “It hurts so much that my child doesn’t have friends; I ache for him when he’s excluded, teased or bullied.”
- “I agree with my child’s primary diagnosis, but my gut tells me there’s more going on than a simple case of xxxx.”
We are definitely in this stage in a lot of ways. I ache for my child when he dreads going to school, and when he feels so different from other kids, and when he gets teased. After years of going on one diagnosis, it became painfully obvious that there were more pieces to the puzzle. And after more professional evaluation, there are a few more diagnoses, making extra help available to him in school. Thankfully, my son does pretty well socially, and has friends. Also, as difficult as it can be for him to make it through a school day, he’s able to keep his behavior in check and doesn’t get in trouble. Most recently, I went through the denial and then acceptance of the idea of medication. And after doing a medication trial, it became painfully obvious that ADHD meds are not the way for Little Man.
Stage 4 Learning as we go: middle school – high school Central theme: moving toward acceptance & self-assurance, finding support
- “I’ve regained some confidence in myself as a parent, if only by learning that my child’s problems are brain-based; they are not my fault.
- “I’ve met a few other parents (online or in person) whose kids have similar issues. These people get it. They know how it feels to be judged, so they are not about to judge others.”
- “I’m no longer trying to ‘fix’ my child’s problems, to ‘cure’ his condition. Instead, I focus on finding coping skills and tools to help him.”
- “I’ve learned that each small accomplishment deserves a celebration.”
- “I worry constantly about my child’s future.”
I am also in stage 4. I know my son’s difficulties are brain based. I have some close friends and some family who understand, and do not judge. And, I am still working on ways to help my son; not cure or fix him, but help. And Energy Medicine is a big part of it. Each time he grows and changes and something new in him clicks, we celebrate it. I do not worry constantly about my child’s future. I know he’ll be ok.
Stage 5 Looking back: young adulthood Central theme: “Who would have thought…?”
- “My child still has symptoms to manage, but he is managing.”
- “I now see that my child was coming into his own, finding his niche, starting to have confidence in himself, before I began to have confidence in him.”
- “I revised my expectations for my child, and by those standards, my child is a success. I’m proud of him.”
Stage 5 is still ahead of us, but I know we’ll get there. This, I am very much looking forward to.
To read the entire article, click here.