Have you ever had a child that was just a puzzle?
You’ve tried to make sense of his behavior.
You have worried.
You have stressed.
You have been frustrated.
You have had him tested.
You have pondered.
I have a child like this.
Ty is my third child, and is now 7 years old. When he was born, he was super quiet–like I forgot he was even there with my other two little ones literally screaming for attention. As soon as he could walk, he would run back and forth in a straight line. He attended a special preschool for speech delay (as have most of my kids–I’m told it’s genetic). During that time, he would fight us to wear long pants, long sleeves, or a jacket (which is bad when it’s below freezing with 6 inches of snow on the ground and still falling). We deduced that he had Sensory Processing Disorder.
I read a book about it.
Frankly, I think we are all somewhere on that spectrum.
Then, he stopped having break downs when he had to wear pants or jackets (and then actually did the opposite–he wore his jacket the whole summer), and moved on to more obsessive behaviors. He had to hug and kiss his dad when he left for work, not out of love necessarily, but out of routine. In fact, after this routine was performed, if my husband came back in for something then we had to have a repeat hug and kiss. Ty had to have his toys a certain way, always had to sit at the same spot at the table, always had to be first. He even deemed that the head of the table–my husband’s place–was 1st, or winning, so he HAD to sit there.
We ran several tests on him–a Behavioral Assessment, BASC. The form that we filled out showed several spikes; the teachers found him to be normal. We talked to the school psychologist and he said it was anxiety and depression and basically you couldn’t do anything until about 3rd grade when you could medicate him. No. Not an option we wanted to pursue.
I left feeling very hopeless.
I had been dwelling on this for some time, when I ran into his teacher. She shared some information with me that left me more hopeful and that matched with what I had started thinking. We continued onward and ended up also doing a test for Asperger’s, which again was inconclusive.
You have to understand, even as he has become older, he throws a tantrum whenever and wherever, if things are not going his way. Even at school or in a parking lot. It’s unsafe. I don’t believe it’s our parenting, since out of 6 kids, he’s the only one to act in such a manner. Often, when you’re talking to him, he stares blankly at you. We have to make him repeat what he’s been told and then he might understand what he’s supposed to do. He has many quirky behaviors that I have yet to understand such as eating cereal dry–no milk. It looks painful. Or, he has no concern to dress like the other kids do at school, which is fine, but I fear that he may become a victim of teasing or bullying at some point.
Recently, we had a MAJOR breakthrough/insight. At our elementary school, the students get ‘take-home’ books that are assigned based on their reading level. I was encouraging him (okay, forcing him) to read his book when he declared, “I don’t like made-up stories!” I asked him what he likes to read. “I just like real life stories.” Later, while talking to my husband about this, my son added, “I just like learning.”
What 7 year old kid would rather read non-fiction and can tell you that he likes learning? The whole thing floored me, but I knew it was an answer to all of my thoughts and ponderings.
A major missing piece to the puzzle.
Many things about him FINALLY made sense. I have noticed that he seems perhaps academically above grade level, and thus, possibly why he is lacking socially. Here’s a little illustration of how he thinks from some homework he had last week:
Seriously, what’s not to love about this kid?
I am still working on figuring out how to be the best parent for him and each of my kids, but I know that through patience, perseverance and love for my children, I can know how to best take care of their needs.
The answers may not come all at once, or for many years. Each child is like a puzzle that comes together piece by piece. Some may be simpler with fewer pieces, some may take more time to figure out. You might need help putting it all together, but, in time, the puzzle will be complete. Don’t give up. Have patience. Keep trying and striving for answers. It will be worth it. Your child is worth it.