There is no manual or ‘how to’ book. I am basically ‘winging’ it. I never thought I would need to worry about finding special resources for my child with school or be concerned with if we are doing what is right for him. My child was diagnosed with ADHD last year during his year in 1st grade. It truly explained a lot and a sense of relief washed over me when it all finally came together. The early years of him crawling under the table at restaurants while the other kids at the table sat and ate their meals. The incessant talking and question asking in the car. The first signs even showed up while he was an infant while he was feeding. He would need to move about while nursing and as he got bigger it became more difficult to sooth him, naps being dropped early. I would hear from fellow moms their children were still napping clear up to kindergarten and meanwhile nap time at school for my guy was a self influenced yoga session over in the corner, he would crawl up the side of the wall with his feet. The teachers needed to place him away from the other children so he would not disturb them. At this time there was no discussion it was just the opinion he was a boy. Let him run let him be free.
The true concern began in kindergarten. We had the very best teacher, young and a mom herself who had many years of experience in the classroom. I remember sitting down with her at the parent teacher conference and she knew she had to start the conversation. I could tell it was difficult for her. She could not tell me exactly what she thought could be thee trouble but we both knew he was not like the other kids. She pointed out an art project on the wall of bears the kids had made, created out of construction paper and paper plates. The plate was the round body and the construction paper was supposed to be cut out into pieces to represent arms head legs etc. I scanned the line up all the projects looked like clones one after the other until the very last one…the head was in the bottom of the plate where the tail should be and everything else was mixed up. Yes this was my child’s project. I normally appreciate art for what it is yet this was a lesson of following directions. My child was unable to copy and remember the instructions.
I remember our first visit to the doctor to see about occupational therapy. He was too young to be diagnosed with anything at this point so we were hoping he needed help with strengthening his hands for writing etc. Unfortunately the evaluation came back normal citing the school he is at is known to be a very rigorous place.
Finally in first grade we knew there was a problem as essays to be written in class and posted in the wall were showing up with an empty space in his spot. He was daydreaming in class and unable to read. The children were starting to notice the difference and he was being made fun of, in first grade!
Finally a full three day evaluation came to the conclusion he has ADHD and Dyslexia. I was stunned but also relieved. It all made sense now.
However how does one parent a child with special needs? I have days I don’t know if I am being too hard or asking too much of my child. I am still raising a future adult right? So I used the suggestions from the doctor for the teachers at home. I was able to translate them for home life. It is not perfect. I have days where I am quite impatient and need to connect time frames. For example, having to remind him to put his shoes in his closet and dirty clothes in his hamper. It never fails no matter how many times I say it the shoes end up partly sticking out of his closet and clothes well I end up putting them in the hamper.
I never thought I would be saying my child has special needs. I have been preoccupied with fighting my battle with cancer, being my own advocate. I now have a new chapter to this crazy rabbit hole of a life. I feel as if the years of learning how to navigate cancer is helping me learn how to cope with finding ways to help my son. It is a challenge yet we are going to do it. We are going to help give him the tools he needs so in ten years when he steps off to college he is prepared. The daily mental approach I need to take? One day at a time!