It’s been just over a month since my son was diagnosed with SPD. A week later, I would be given a second opinion which also threw Asperger’s in for the fun of it. My son’s pediatrician, although the only one we’ve ever seen, is also someone I feel comfortable classifying as “the best”. He was referred to J’s father and I upon leaving the hospital with our new preemie. When J reached 2 1/2 years old, I first addressed my concerns about some of my son’s little “quirks”. Although his pediatrician agreed that J was always a little squirrely, he assured me that the amount of change J was experiencing during this time was more than likely causing the behavior changes.
J’s father left in September of 2009. It wasn’t pretty and I sometimes wonder if the anger I felt resulting from that was responsible for his disappearing act for a short while. Because of a lack of child support for a while I had to change J’s daycare/preschool (which ended up being the best decision I could have made for him). There wasn’t a lot of consistency for a long time while we sorted things out in court and unfortunately J missed a lot of time with his dad because of the ugliness his dad and I aimed at each other. Despite all of that and a few other times where I was righteously deciding that his dad was making poor decisions choosing his new life over his son, I’ve come to realize that there were times when I’ve screwed up as well and sometimes still do. What ultimately mattered is that we both loved our son more than anything. J’s dad and I are complete opposites, which I am sure will either incredibly benefit our son or completely screw with him! His dad is the fun-loving, carefree guy who had the energy to swing him upside down for hours. Me? Not so much. Regardless, I’ve learned that communication is key when you’re trying to do the co-parenting thing and although I know this fact, doesn’t mean that either of us have aced it yet. It’s a work in progress.
Towards the end of 2010, I figured things were going well. I had enrolled back in school to finally finish my degree. Work was going great as I had been given a new position. I accepted a co-chair position with a committee associated with the March of Dimes. At the same time, J enjoyed his teacher at school and life was going pretty swell.
The first time I had even heard of SPD was from J’s teacher. She had seen many of J’s symptoms before with someone she knew that had the disorder. She had implemented some little “tricks” that she knew about and they seemed to work. It wasn’t until last month, however, that as I mentioned, I learned that it was official: J was “different”. I remember sitting there in a lame attempt to make sure I followed all the directions his pediatrician was giving me on who to follow up with and when to call him back, and in my mind, all I could think about was how there was something wrong with my son. He was “running in circles” at this point while lying on the ground and I couldn’t understand how a diagnosis of anything made any sense with such a happy child. (Yeah, so I was a little righteous and ignorant – cut me a break!)
After all was said and done, J and I walked out to the car so I could bring him to school. I had explained to him earlier that we were going to the doctor to get a check-up for the doctor to make sure that everything was working fine and that he was nice and healthy. Snapping his seat belt closed, my mind was racing with thoughts of OT services, co-pays, J having behavioral issues forever, learning disabilities, and the increasing amount of stress that I didn’t think I’d be ready to handle. His voice brought me back to the moment, however. “Does Dr. Mike think I’m okay?”
For a little while, I thought I was being punished. How could I possibly accept any more challenges in my life?! Well, aside from realizing that those were incredibly selfish thoughts, I also realized I had been wrong. A week after his diagnosis, I found myself learning crucial information in a parenting class I had taken for “an easy A”. J’s teacher has been there for him from the beginning and has continued to support him and give him that extra bit of love, understanding and attention he needs. Friends and family have proven they’d drop everything to help him out. We are more than just blessed – in fact, I’d say we’re almost perfect. Well, it’s a work-in-progress for me, but I know I’ll eventually get there with him.