Parenting and exhaustion from clinical experts

posted by Jeff | Friday, March 17, 2017, 7:07 PM | comments: 0

When Simon was diagnosed with ASD, I felt like it was just confirmation of a suspicion. I felt like it explained a lot of his behavior, and set him up with success after a lot of therapy and some great teachers.

This year, however, it was apparent that not everything was clicking at school. The district's previous evaluation was that he no longer needed services around the ASD. Various experts and therapists since that time all seem to conclude that the ASD is not a visible challenge, and I'm starting to come around to the idea that it makes sense. For all the time and money spent on therapy and the earlier developmental challenges, we would hope that he can cope with some of those challenges. The occasional meltdown aside, I think he's adapted pretty well with most (but not all) things. He still struggles with social contracts. (Just now: "Simon, you're pretty good at that." "Yes, I know I am.")

Then comes the ADHD diagnosis. I've read the stories from parents, where the immediate recommendation is, "Medicate!" I wasn't crazy about this, because thinking about ASD and projecting my own experience on to him, I just figured that when it comes to school, he doesn't do what doesn't interest him. Still, it made a difference for Simon's cousin, and so he was prescribed an extremely low dose of a relatively new med. Aside from a few instances of him being super highly focused on completing tasks (in an autistic way, I would add), and not being able to turn off his brain, the results in school have been positive. It seems to help.

The most recent concerns, however, center around speech and expressive language, and in particular an issue where he gets overwhelmed by information and doesn't parse out the less relevant parts. Also, he seems to suffer from anxiety around the desire to get it all right, right away. This has manifest itself in art class when he can't draw what he wants, or at home when he must use a ruler to make perfect lines for underlining.

Now take all of this in when you're just trying to get the kid to eat at dinner and not try to snack all night, or get him to take a shower in a reasonable time frame. It's exhausting. I feel like every expert sees the thing that they're looking for, and I'm very cautious about the idea that medicine is the go-to option without therapy. Mostly, I'm just tired of hearing about all of the ways that Simon isn't perfect. I miss the simpler days of him just needing to catch up a little on motor skills or vocabulary.

If there's any bright spot, it's that I can see extraordinary intelligence in our little boy. He's very into examining physics and mechanical things. Heck, even when he plays Planet Coaster on the computer, he likes to zoom in and look at the systems of brakes and motors and things. The challenge, I think, hasn't changed since the autism concerns: We need to do our best to figure out how his wiring best connects to the ability to learn. It's hard for me to stay focused on that when everyone is looking for the next problem.

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