I saw a post yesterday about kids with special powers. It was written in conjunction with a campaign to stop the use of the R Word. Mental Retardation used to be a medical diagnosis. However, it is no longer used. In fact, in 2010, Congress replaced terms like 'Mental Retardation' and 'Mentally Retarded' in Federal health, education and labor laws with the term 'Intellectual Disability'. You can find more facts here. Yesterday, March 6th, was the fifth annual day of awareness for Spread The Word To End The Word. It's a worthy cause. Hurtful words are never necessary.
Here I am today. A day late. It's pretty par for course, though. I admit it.
When I read Beth Woolsey's post, I had just returned home from a meeting at the school with my son's "team". The meeting was to determine if my son still qualified for Special Education. There was no question as to whether or not he needed Special Ed, it was a formality. But testing and evaluations and forms - lots and lots of forms - had to be completed.
My son has a great team of educators surrounding him at his school. They not only care deeply about his education, but about him, as an individual, and about me. They do a lot of good work. They are extremely flexible with his assignments, his homework, and his testing. I feel really lucky about where he is. I have heard a lot of horror stories about the difficulty in working with the public school system. Other than a lot of "red tape" and procedure, however, we have had a great experience so far.
Boy 1 is developmentally delayed. He has ADHD and Anxiety. There has been talk of an attachment disorder, and because of some characteristics and behaviors, Autism keeps getting thrown into the conversation. He not only has a educational team, but a team of medical professionals. And it looks like we're going to have to add to that team with an Occupational Therapist for his fine motor skills. Every person we meet with says basically the same thing, "Your son is a complicated kid."
His attention trouble affects every part of this boy's life. The educators administering the tests even acknowledged that it is unknown if his test scores are accurate. While most are consistently below average, we get these seemingly out-of-the-blue just-about-average scores that surprise everyone. Everyone, that is, except for me and his daddy.
Our job, other than just loving the kid to pieces and helping him make his place and feel secure there, is to find the right combination to unlocking and freeing that complicated brain of his. One part of the combination might be time itself. Other parts might include diet, medication, special tutoring, and most importantly of all, reaching out to those that can help and support - not only our son, but us.
As he gets older, my son is noticing the differences between himself and the other kids. Just like any other eight-year-old, he wants to be accepted by his peers. What makes that difficult, is that he has trouble connecting with other kids. His extreme impulsivity means that instead of building trust between friends, Boy 1 is taking things from their desks, and saying things that he doesn't mean, or maybe even doesn't understand. He's not only being distracted by every move and sound, he's being the distraction to those around him.
I know how hard it can be - how tiring, how irritating. He can push my buttons - and he does. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Still, there are so many that are kind, and many more that are, at least, tolerant. I just hope that they get to see the boy that I see. Because while my son can be annoying, and impulsive, and exhausting. He also is one of the greatest joys in my life. He is a boy that loves to run and move. A boy that is loving, and has an amazing memory. He loves recess, and video games, and computers. He is a boy that has a great sense of humor, a boy that loves pens, and likes to color, and a boy that tries so hard to keep it together, day after day.
While I wish I could make things easier for him, (and I don't know how to say this without sounding like an after school special) I don't want to change him. So that's our challenge. Help him cope, help him navigate, help him adjust, help him to do his best. I want to be the kind of mom that does that. And you know what? I'm not all the way there yet.
I'm pretty sure that I drive him crazy EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Yep, I'm complicated, too.