Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Journey Begins: Awaiting a Diagnosis

Loving the Kid with Behavior Issues

I realized recently that I often walk on egg shells, wondering how Christopher is going to act up that day. When he was in pre-school, I used to dread picking him up because I never knew if I'd walk to to hear about what he did to some other kid on the playground. One time he pushed a kid off the top of the slide and the kid fell on his back, lost his breath and scared the living daylights out of everyone. (Luckily the little boy recovered quickly). Another time, he smashed his friend’s sunglasses and denied it. There are just so many stories of hitting pushing and the list goes on and on. 

It got so bad that the pre-school wouldn’t let him play outside anymore. This upset him terribly but it was also a strain on me. After work every night, I had to take him to the park near our house so he could get his energy out. I’m exhausted after a long day but he’s bouncing off the walls. We wouldn't get home until 7pm and only then could I start dinner, cleaning, baths and books. It made for a pretty exhausting day for me. 

So what’s a mom to do?

Christopher’s out of pre-school for the summer and spending Monday through Friday with a nanny. The one-on-one attention is great for him and for the most part all is going well. However there are still issues. For example, Christopher threatened to hit her on the second day of her job and she called me at work in tears. She almost quit and I had to rush home and beg her to stay. Turns out Christopher was upset about leaving his pre-school friends and lashed out at the nanny because he didn't know how else to express himself. Once I had a conversation with him, he understood that he could still see his friends but that he couldn't threaten to hurt the nanny anymore. He actually got better after I scheduled a play date with his friend Eva and the crisis was averted. The nanny, to her credit, stayed on.

All had been going well until this week. Just the other day she took Christopher to the Children's Museum. At first all seemed to be going well. She texted me pictures of Christopher sitting with baby ducks and having so much fun. I loved it. A few hours later the text came that I dread though: “Is it okay if I call you?” That’s never a good message.

I was on a conference call but asked her if Christopher was okay. She said yes but that they had been escorted out of the museum by security because Christopher was hitting other kids with a stick. She was pretty freaked out. Oh dear.

I talked to her and found out that they were on the playground and Christopher started fighting with some kids. Next thing you know he’s hitting them with a stick. And out they go.  The end.

This upset me (obviously) so I called the pediatrician to see if he could help me get my evaluation with Children’s Hospital prioritized. (I've been waiting for six months now!) I feel like Christopher’s behavior is getting worse in some ways, just because he's bigger and can cause more harm. This is scary for me. The receptionist said the doctor wasn’t available today but that there is a program that they could refer me to if the behaviors are becoming dangerous. I think about it for a bit and said I would talk to the doctor when he’s available tomorrow. I’m not sure about this. I know he’s got issues but should he be going to a program for kids who are suicidal? Who cut themselves? Christopher just has impulse control issues. Isn’t Children’s Hospital good enough?

The thing is…I don’t know. I genuinely don’t know what to do. Can Children’s Hospital help? Should I just try out this other option? Is that too much program or just the right program for him? I am so out of my element here and it is all too overwhelming for me.

I spoke with Christopher's therapeutic mentor and decided that we could just wait for the Children's Hospital appointment. I don't think his condition is extreme enough for this other program. I really do think when I meet with Children's, that we'll get a diagnosis of ADHD with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. But we need treatment and we need it now. When the pediatrician called me, I asked him if it would be possible to expedite our appointment and he said he'd try. I would really like for Christopher to have his assessment before he starts kindergarten in just a few weeks. I need to know what to tell his teachers before we start the first day so they have some idea how to handle him. I want to start school on the right foot. I want him to do well in school and I want him to make friends. I know untreated ADHD leads to social isolation, lower grade point averages and depression. I want to ensure none of that happens to my child. I want him to be happy and well adjusted.

Today I really thought, I did not sign up for this when I decided to become a mom. Is it so wrong to just want a “normal” kid?

On the other hand, I love Christopher with all my heart and feel like if it wasn't for me, then he wouldn't have a decent life. So I am glad I was able to save this kid so that he has a future. It sucks that it has to come at the expense of our present though. 

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