Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Broken Funny Bone

No, I'm not injured. Just be warned that this isn't a funny post.

My AM needs prayers. As those of you reading this know (and for the benefit of anyone, though I'm not sure who that would be, that doesn't know), AM has sensory issues with certain sounds. His main "triggers" are sudden, higher-pitched sounds that he can't control. In other words, if it's loud but he knows it's going to be loud (and when it will be loud), he's fine.

Unfortunately, babies and kids can just suddenly scream and he doesn't know when it will happen....and it causes him a LOT of anxiety. This is a result of being born waaaaay too early (born at 23 weeks weighing a staggering 1lb 2oz) and his little brain being barraged by more stimulus/sound then it was ready to cope with.

We knew that he would have a hard time when NR was born and took measures to try and help him cope.

He is doing better, though he still struggles quite a bit. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt for bringing this kind of anxiety into his life, but the reality is that he's got to learn how to cope. Not only at home, but in public as well.

Added to this is something most of you DON'T know. AM has really struggled in school. Since kindergarten, actually. He doesn't struggle with the actual subjects, but he has had very real problems staying on task. Initially we hoped it was a maturity thing that would work itself out. It hasn't worked itself out.

We were told, repeatedly, that he was at an extremely high risk for learning disabilities (including ADHD or ADD). In fact, it's one of the reasons we put him in private school. The public schools had his file "flagged" as high risk (he received speech and occupational therapy through the public schools from age 3-6). I wanted him to prove he DID have a problem, not have to try and prove he didn't (when they were already looking for problems).

This year was the "straw that broke the camels back", so to speak. AM is a pleaser and it really affects him when he disappoints someone, especially his parents or teacher. Therefore it was totally out-of-character for him to simply not care that he disappointed people when it came to school work. Completely out-of-character. Plus, it DID bother just didn't change anything.

He was officially diagnosed with ADD right after the start of the school year. I HATE even typing that, because there is so much "stigma" attached to it. It has been SO over-diagnosed that I have found people practically sneer at me when I mention he has it.

However, if I want people to pray for my son, I feel like they need to know what they are praying for. I'll just hope that people know me well enough to know I F-O-U-G-H-T this diagnosis for three years. It came to the point where I had to decide whether to keep denying there was a problem and let him fall behind, or swallow my hang-ups and get my child help. I chose the later and cried about it for two weeks.

Yes, before anyone asks, we decided to put him on medication (hence my two weeks of crying). It was one of the hardest things I've done as his parent, putting him on meds for something I knew would cause some people to think less of me as his mother. The reality is that he has something wrong with his brain. If he had diabetes or heart disease, I'd hardly expect him to just "get over it" and I can't expect him to get over this (though heaven knows we've tried).

We also started taking him to neurofeedback sessions (which, of course, insurance doesn't cover.......why would they cover something that might make it cheaper for them in the long run?) in hopes that it will help him get back off the medication.

The brain bleed he had as a baby, combined with the over stimulus of his brain, obviously did more damage then we realized. I cannot tell you how badly that hurts my heart. He beat more odds then we could have EVER hoped he would beat. To have him not beat this one hurts me down deep in that part of the heart that aches fiercely for our kids when they struggle. Perhaps it's selfish of me to have wished he'd beat one more odd, when God has already brought him through so much, but the truth is that he had to struggle so hard just to LIVE that I wanted things to be smooth sailing for him.

I do take comfort in the fact that God is working in this situation and will use it for good. It's still hard to see your child struggle.

So why am I posting about this now? AM's teacher has noticed problems again in the classroom starting several weeks ago. Last night she sent me an email and said her biggest concern was that he'd lost his "spark".

I knew he was struggling to adjust to NR at home, but didn't think it was affecting him at school. He walked around here for a few weeks simply not being himself. He just acted sad. I knew it was due to trying to figure out the new order of things. How he "fit" in this new family dynamic. He was an only child for eight years and this has been an enormous change for him. He's so sensitive to peoples' feelings that he would NEVER tell us he was mad/sad at us, but it was obvious he was.

To find out that he's even sad at school makes my heart clench.

How are these things related? His teacher believes that his current troubles in school are related to NR's birth and I tend to agree with her. I don't know if he's bringing homework home because it forces me to sit with him at the table (even though we play family games at night if his homework is done, so he actually gets MORE positive attention without homework) or if he's just so preoccupied with the changes going on at home that he can't focus at school.

Complicating things is the fact that NR IS just a baby and AM is eight. That means I can't just leave NR to give AM undivided attention to try and work through this. Babies need to be changed, fed, etc... Plus, a HUGE component of all of this is NR's crying. Luckily he's a happy baby, but when he cries it is VERY loud and AM reacts strongly. I know that's part of the problem with him staying on task at home, but what is the solution? If I sit in the kitchen with NR, AM is anxious that's he's so close. If I leave NR in the living room, he's unattended and will just cry from there.

Thankfully, things have improved in that area. AM no longer runs to his room and hides when NR starts to fuss. He just plugs his ears or puts his ear muffs on. He is starting to be interested in his little brother (talking to him more, asking about his day, etc...) where before there was indifference and even resentment (though he never said anything, his body language and the fact that he avoided NR spoke volumes).

Over the past week, and especially this past weekend, he started acting like himself again. Perhaps we've seen the worst, but he is still having a hard time in school.

So please just pray that he figures out how to cope with everything that's going on. And thank you for reading this VERY long post :).


mommy4life said...

You are not a bad mother. You are doing what you have to do to help your child.

I will pray.

All children go thru an adjustment when they have been an only for so long, and yours is compounded by other issues. Know you are not alone!

Chaos-Jamie said...

What she said.

AND those of us that have issues with medication is the medication of children that DON'T need it. Not the ones that do.

Mr. and Mrs. Nurse Boy said...

As a teacher AND as a parent, I admire how you have fought for your child and addressed his needs!!!! I, too, will cover him in prayer. He really is a walking miracle! His story is inspiring! Please don't feel guilty about putting him on medication. You tried everything else. Some kids NEED medication. God can use the medical field to bless and heal. I know you agree. I also know many Christians who do not. I encourage you not to walk in guilt, but to be proud that you have done everything you have known to do as a parent. Most parents never fight that hard for their children. EVER. Your children are blessed to have the two of you as parents.

Sorry about the long comment. I know, I should blog on my own blog. Your post brought tears to my eyes and made me emotional. It is parents like you that shouldn't feel judged. I will pray for the two of you as well. That God will give you wisdom, comfort, and peace.

Mrs. Nurse Boy

Anonymous said...

You are not a bad mother by any means.

I have ADD, too. Since I always did well in school, and didn't display any signs of hyperactivity, I wasn't diagnosed until just recently. Though I always got my homework done, I would never do things until the last minute. It was like pulling teeth to get down to work. Luckily, I had teachers who understood my learning style, and would work with me. If your son has trouble doing homework, it might help to see if the teacher could just accept a verbal explanation of the work instead of a written one. At this age, a lot of the worksheets are just made up to reinforce concepts and ensure that the students understand the material. If your son could find an alternate means of meeting this goal, it could save him a lot of stress.

I'll be praying for you!