I do love learning new things. It's a wonderful feeling, and I get to feel like I'm doing something to help Mad Natter, even if all I'm doing is thinking up new things to bring up to his doctor when we go in for his med review. This week, though, learning has created a bit of an issue for me. I learned some new things about Mad Natter, and I learned a few things about how his care has been horribly wrong despite best efforts, and while I do love learning new things, it's made me stop and think and try to reconcile.
I'm learning quickly that parenting Mad Natter is an adventure in second guessing myself. I do it consistently, wondering if I'm screwing things up by advancing him, or if it would be worse to do things differently. But what I learned this week feels so much more important.
You see, I learned that Mad Natter has a habit of melting down in hockey (this part I knew), insisting tearfully that the other kids on the team hate him (this part I didn't). He gets frustrated, and can't explain himself properly. He feels like he's terrible at the game. He feels like he's not part of the team, that all his teammates are against him, and he doesn't understand.
Then, I learned that his frustration stems from the inability to appropriately express what he wants to - either he can't get the words around what he wants to say, or his body isn't doing the actions he is telling it to. He gets overwhelmed, and it's like his brain can't untangle enough to get out of the immediate situation, and he melts down. He's certain he's awful at what he's doing, that everyone hates him, that everything is terrible, he's never going to get better, and he should just quit.
Following that, I learned - from the pediatrician! - that low self-esteem and high levels of frustration are hallmarks of ADD/ADHD. And then, going through some of the meager ADHD books I have in the house, I learned that children who exhibit symptoms of ADHD in pre-k, JK, or SK ages (as Mad Natter very clearly did) are at particular risk, and that early intervention is critical. Critical.
The very first time I wanted to try alternative methods to work with Mad Natter? We should have had his care followed. When we presented, looking to see if there really was a problem, as we had no luck with those methods, we should have been seen right away. We weren't. We were told to come back in three years. So we tried again. We were given a bogus diagnosis, told we were crappy parents, and sent on our way. So we tried again. We were told that Mad Natter likely had elements of SPD (we already knew) and ADHD, but come back in two years. So we tried again. We sat on a waiting list, and are now 18 months into our wait, and only just now coming into the possibility of evaluation. So we tried yet again. We were told to come back when Mad Natter was seven. The fact that we kept going, over and over and over again is the only reason I'm not furious with myself. We knew something was wrong, and we kept on it. The medical establishment, which insists early intervention is critical, has failed my son. Repeatedly. I'm glad we've finally managed to get the help we need - and I do mean *we,* as this has worn on each and every one of us, not just Mad Natter. But it shouldn't have been like this.
Mad Natter shouldn't have had to wonder if his teammates hate him. He shouldn't be convinced that he sucks at everything at which he's not instantly successful. He shouldn't be telling me that he likes being sick because it slows his brain down enough for him to think. He shouldn't be only just now realizing that his brain really does work - and well - it just needs a little help getting its brakes. And so, as I learn more and more about what ADHD does and can do, I do the best I can to mitigate the damage that my sweet, sunshine-y little boy has had to deal with - all without my even knowing it was going on. But at least we're trying. And we're moving forward. And he knows that no matter what, his mama is on his side.