From the time I felt his first little kick in my tummy, my middle son has been moving nonstop. From the time I brought him home from the hospital I could tell that he was going to be so different from my older son. As he grew I noticed that he hated wearing clothes, but constantly wanted rocked and cuddled. I was fine with the cuddles….I love me some cuddles. As he started growing into toddlerhood and I became pregnant with my 3rd child, I wondered how I was ever going to do it.
My oldest was pretty self sufficient since he was 5 when my son was born, but my middle son was only 2 when I had my daughter and he demanded so much of my attention. Eventually, like every family, we got into our rhythm. He would never sit still and getting him into a stroller or shopping cart was impossible. I hated going anywhere because I felt like I was constantly chasing him around. I had to invent way to make him feel like he was helping to get him to stay with me, but even then he was easily distracted and would gravitate to whatever held his attention at that moment.
My child had NO fear of anything. At 2 he learned how to climb to the top of the fridge, AND he wasn’t afraid to jump down. At 3 he decided he was done with “baby” training wheels on his bike and demanded that we take them off. By the next weekend he could ride a 2wheeler bike.
At 4 he climbed to the top of the fridge and shut his finger in his dad’s pocket knife. Instead of screaming about it, he calmly walked to me to show me a bloodied finger that obviously needed stitches (at which point I turned white). I took him to the local medexpress so that I wouldn’t have to wait 4 hours at the ED…the dr. wanted to transfer him to the ED since he was so small so that they could put him to sleep to stitch. I insisted that if we explained exactly what was going to happen that he would be fine. The part he didn’t like was when they strapped him into a restraint to keep him from moving. He got upset when the nurse kept blocking his view from the stitching….he thought it was the coolest thing ever that they were sewing his finger. The dr. couldn’t believe he was so calm.
He dives off the high board, does wheelies with his bike, picks scabs, lives with absolutely NO fear of getting hurt. He craves the movement and the touch. I knew from early on that there was something different about him. Not really bad or wrong, just different. I was told everything from “middle child syndrome” to ADHD (which, don’t get me wrong, some people have…but I believe is way overly diagnosed).
His difference became extremely apparent when he started 1st grade. The transition from preschool and Kindergarten to the more structured 1st grade and beyond is tough for just about every kid. But when I started receiving notes about his “bad” behavior in the 2nd week of school I knew it was going to always be a struggle. I started believing the people that told me he needed to be medicated for ADHD and I started feeling like a bad mom. I didn’t want my son to be labeled. During the summer before he started 1st grade, my friend’s son was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (aka SPD). Before that we would exchange stories about our kids and it was quickly apparent that we had the same son, just at different ages. I started researching SPD online through links that my friend suggested. And the more I read the more I came to the realization that THIS IS MY SON!
The things I read about this disorder explained so many things that he had done from infancy. So, my first step was to go to his pediatrician and get a referral to have him tested. I took him my list of things I noticed and he said it was definitely worth a better look. My next step was a 3-5 hour testing to decide if A. he actually has SPD and B. which type of SPD he has. Just like everything else, SPD has a very wide range. Once the occupational therapist confirmed what I had suspected, it was time to get him the help he needed. Right away we started weekly OT sessions to help him process his senses correctly.
So far this has all been easy peasy right? WRONG…my biggest hurdle has been the school system. Before I even had a diagnosis I mentioned it to his new teacher. I could tell right away that she didn’t accept SPD as a credible diagnosis. She tried to tell me he had ADHD (which I knew he never had). When I wasn’t buying that, she suggested he had poor eyesight (also did NOT have). I got notes constantly about his behavior and his problems focusing and sitting still in class. If the teacher would have just listen to me, she would have known that these are part of his SPD. I also had multiple meetings with the principal and teacher about how to help him. The teacher always blew me and my suggestions off, but the principal had been really helpful.
This was not my first battle, and I know it won’t be my last. But until he can stick up for himself, I am his best defense. I will always be there to set people straight when they try to label my son as “bad”. I will be there to fight for him when someone isn’t willing to learn about SPD. I will be there to teach the ones that need taught….whether they want to learn or not. The school system will know who I am when I walk in the door, people will call me some not so nice names, but I don’t really care. The job of a mom is to fight for their kids….and fight is exactly what I will do so that my children will have the best chance at life. What mom wouldn’t? And, by the way, his 2nd grade year has been going so much better. The teacher he was placed with couldn’t have been more perfect. And thanks to her, and her willingness to learn about SPD and about my son, I have seen him excel. He enjoys going to school and he actually tries to do his best. Homework isn’t a struggle and he doesn’t get so mad when he doesn’t understand.
He has hope…in himself and in his future. And all I can think is “YES! Finally, people see what I see when I look at him!”.