“Are you listening to me?”
This is a phrase that I repeat several times a day. It is not always a negative question as I have a day-dreamer on my hands. It is a legitimate question so I can be sure he heard everything I said to him. I’ve learned more about parenting than I ever thought I would having a special needs child.
My nephew made parenting look so easy. He wasn’t a fussy baby- B was due to many allergies. He wasn’t picky about food or clothing- B had special diets and hated certain textures so clothing was usually a fight- That sock you just put on my foot was not just right so I’m going to scream and cry until you fix it.
It took many visits to the doctor, the allergist, and the occupational therapist to get B and us on the right track for his needs. He was diagnosed at age 3 with sensory processing disorder, which has many overlapping symptoms as ADHD. We finally felt like we hit a good stride by the time he was 5, just in time for B to start school. We didn’t know he had any learning disabilities until 2nd grade. We thought he had problems mixing up his letters and some numbers just like many kids his age. “He will grow out of it” is what we were told time and time again.
I’ve mentioned before that the school system has failed B and his needs. It took his therapist zoning in on how he processes things to get him the right testing. B and I spent a day at the therapy office going through test after test, we even had to do our own evaluations on him as well as 2 teachers. Once everything was compiled he was diagnosed ADHD- hyperactivity and impulsivity, generalized anxiety disorder and dyslexia.
S and I were not happy with the services from the school so we took matters into our own hands and got him a private tutor. She could tell after a couple sessions that he needed more one on one help than the school was willing to give. He hated having to spend so much time on school work and tutoring. Trying to keep his spirits up was my main focus through the process. The tutoring and therapy is the best thing we could have done for him. He was able to learn in a way that S and I never thought of and he has someone to talk to outside of the family that makes him feel safe and secure.
“Are you listening to me? What did I ask you to do? Repeat back to me the order to do these things.” These aren’t questions to make him feel stupid or less than anyone. They are important questions to pull him out of his head and to get him to re-focus. When I feel the frustration build from repeating myself over and over I have to force myself to stop and put myself in his shoes. He doesn’t mean to forget the one thing out of the four I just gave him. He doesn’t mean to keep kicking the wall as his legs swing back and forth during his schoolwork. He doesn’t mean to make the odd clicking noises with his tongue as he colors with me.
We have many different methods to handle the tics, the emotions, and every now and then the meltdown. We use the “repeat back” method and list 3-4 things, one for each finger for tasks. We change locations if he feels like he has to fidget more during schoolwork. We take more breaks than he ever got in school to pull him back into the task at hand. For those pencil tapping, pen clicking, finger drumming moments- well we have found small stress balls in the shape of animals that he can press or squeeze. His coping methods will change as he grows, and I will be right there with him, learning how to work through it too.
My theme for this year’s meme is ‘Lessons my son has taught me’. No matter our age we are never to old to learn something about ourselves. To read what other’s have written please click here.