PART 2 – Let’s Go Back A Bit, Shall We?

July 6, 2010

CONTINUED from Part 1 – Let’s Go Back a Bit, Shall We?

Upon realizing that D’s behavior and abilities were potentially putting him in harm’s way, I brought the issue up with our family doctor. Of course, it took some time (and several visits) to convince him that D was displaying behavior that was out of the ordinary for a child his age.

Every time I took D in for an appointment, he would smile and babble for the doctor and nurses, sit up straight in his chair, and act the part of the perfect angel. Each time, the doctor would send me home, telling me that what D was doing was what an average child his age did. He thought I was overreacting to the simple realities of parenting a toddler. I knew better. Call it mother’s intuition. I knew my child was struggling with something outside of his control and I knew he needed me to help him.

So I persevered. I took copious notes and logged everything from naps to feedings to ‘time spent running in circles’. I read every parenting book I could get my hands on and when I returned to the doctor’s office, I felt armed and ready. After several more visits to our family doctor and several more incidents of D’s risk-taking behavior, we were finally referred to see a child psychologist in a town two hours away.

There, D was ‘diagnosed’ with ADD. The psychologist explained that at such a young age, while it was evident that his symptoms were severe, it was difficult to know whether he was displaying ADD characteristics because he was truly struggling with the condition, or whether these characteristics were simply pointing to a lack of discipline in the home. The suggestion that my parenting was the cause of his challenges was hard to swallow because I was working so hard to be clear and consistent and I had tried so many strategies in the hopes of finding what worked for him. Oh, the star charts and time-outs. I did the Super Nanny proud and still nothing was working.

I remember sitting in the child psychologist’s office on that windy Autumn day and thinking that our situation was utterly hopeless. I feared that I was to blame for the difficulties he was having and the danger he was in and I felt bad for him because he had me as a mom.

More than anything though, I was terrified that I couldn’t protect him from this condition I didn’t fully understand. The psychologist wasn’t offering much in the way of suggestions and we wouldn’t be seeing her again for another 6 months. I was afraid and felt very alone. I didn’t have a support system around me to help me deal with this challenge and there was no time to waste. The thought of my life without this beautiful, bright and funny little boy wasn’t worth living and so I knew I would have to take matters into my own hands.

Despite feeling very sad and overwhelmed as I left her office that day, I also remember feeling grateful for finally having a diagnosis that made sense to me. I had a name for my frustration and something to tackle.

As I drove the two hours home listening to D babbling and singing in the backseat of the car, I thought to myself, “Now, where do I start?”

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