Even though I have shared only mere snippets of my son’s SPD journey here and on our family blog Training Happy Hearts, I bet it is evident to anyone who has read my posts that both my husband and I – along with friends, family and many “lettered folks” – have spent a fair amount of time questioning what diagnoses, if any, best fit my boy.
Currently, my son is officially diagnosed with ADHD with “sensory challenges” or “sensory issues” (since no local lettered folks seem to have the desire to actually use the term “SPD” in regards to our son.) Yet, a full alphabet soup of other possibilities has been stirred about in conversation as well. Letters have included OCD (ruled out by recent survey from neurologist), ODD (never officially looked at yet), ASD (deemed unlikely by neuropysch and neurologist, but therapists think he’s a possible Aspie) and, most recently, Anxiety (suggested by neurologist).
As anyone who is journeying a parallel path knows, a large part of the diagnosis process rests on observations, surveys and conjecture. I’ve recently realized I have failed my son to a degree with these three things. You see, despite observing and sometimes even explaining some of my son’s quirks to the doctors and therapists we’ve seen, I have never considered any of them “stimming”. In fact, on almost every survey I have filled out, I have answered that my son does NOT stim.
So THAT is stimming?
Then, the other day, I watched Elizabeth’s video of her Pumpkin stimming over at Creative Learning Fun. Oh dear. I thought. Is THAT really stimming? I had had a few children on the spectrum in my classes back when I taught public school and their “stimming” was far more pronounced and dramatic. Thus, my vision of what stimming “really” is was as well. When I aw Pumpkin’s stimming episode I recognized what I have for years just passed off as one of my son’s own benign quirks. Not a symptom or a sign, just something he does, particularly when excited by something in a video.
Now, I realize that my judgment may have been incorrect. Watching Elizabeth’s video prompted me to do a youtube search. Some of what I found was more in line with what I’ve always thought of as stimming. Some was very much like what I see my son doing.
So, now the question in my head is, So my son stims, but does it matter? His stimming isn’t constant (although it is rather evident almost every time he is allowed time to watch videos) and it rarely affects our lives or relationships adversely (unless you consider the time when I took all three of my children to see Rio at the library and while my 18 month old and four-year old were fine with it, as were all the other children who were there, my six year old son voiced sheer fright for much of this seemingly innocuous and, as well as squirming, calling out and needing me to hold him, did what I now recognize as stimming, which all, in truth, caused mere embarrassment, not a true problem.) So, does it matter? Is it something I need to look into more? Is it a clear sign of ASD that I should discuss with his doctors and therapists who have never had the occasion to experience it first-hand? Does it just speak further of the SPD my son has, even if no one but his father and I really want to call it that? Is it something I need to offer him strategies for? Or, do I just keep on considering it a quirk – part of what makes my son, his thoughts and his actions and reactions unique? Moreover, is it something I should spend time and energy researching and thinking about?
I have not gleaned the answers to any of these questions yet. I am fully open to hearing from others who have faced them, though. I welcome shared experiences, thoughts, links for resources, facts and opinions. And, I thank Elizabeth, who without even knowing it, uncovered a piece of my son’s puzzle that I wasn’t even aware existed.