Up until a few months ago the first thought that would come to my head when I seen an unruly child out in public was “He/she needs more discipline” or “His/her parents need to lay down some ground rules” or even “spoiled”. All these thoughts until I finally decided to seek out counseling for our 7 year old.
Our oldest has always been a bit “quirky”. There’s things about him that don’t really fit in to the cookie cutter mold of the average child but we didn’t notice it until he started school. School officials just chalked it up to he was acting out because he was going to be a big brother later that year, but some things didn’t change after the baby was born. When he started 1st grade his teacher would call us because our son was having trouble focusing and staying on task. His outbursts were impulsive and when asked why he would do certain things his reply was always the same. My brain told me to do it and I just couldn’t stop, I did it on purpose. When he told me this my heart would sink, what was going on with my perfectly quirky little boy?
We were referred to a child psychologist a few town over who already had files on our sons behavioral problems at school. It didn’t take long for her to tell us that our son definitely had sensory issues. At the time she wasn’t sure if it was ADHD or autism. Later that month we approached the school to speak with their behavioral specialist and his teacher. I could feel the judgement from the moment we walked in, but in their defense I’m sure they deal with parents who demand special treatment for their child on a daily basis. My wife and I sat there and explained what the therapist had told us and how she told us to ask the school for an IEP for our son. The special education teacher pointed out that usually ADHD kids have a hard time on the bus but our son had no issues all year. Or how Autism kids have a hard time in gym but he does great in gym. She was speaking for Autism and ADHD as a whole, as if being Autistic meant you had to be a certain way when really that’s not the case at all. We informed her we aren’t asking for special treatment, just a little more patience or understanding from his teachers. The only one in the room who seemed to understand what we were asking was his teacher. She had noticed when our son would get over stimulated because he would start chewing his sleeve, and shortly after that he would lose his little mind. We discussed ways to help control his outbursts and jobs he could do in class that would be used as his reward.
The following day when we seen the therapist again she informed me that my son definitely had ADHD and that autism had not been ruled out yet. He could in fact have both.
Even though I do not really like to read I have found myself reading article after article about ADHD and autism. Learning different ways to talk to my son about the little voice inside his head that tells him to keep doing what he’s doing even though he knows it’s wrong.
I am writing this to tell my readers not to judge a book by its cover, and if you think your child needs help to please get them the help they need.