19 April 2010

Admitting you need help--and getting it

I may have mentioned before that my son, who is now ten (and whose comment as a three year old inspired the name of my blog :) ) is a unique child. Complicated, in the words of the school psychologist. We had a meeting this morning and it was a really good meeting. It lasted for an hour and a half, and I just felt good when I left.

Moe has been diagnosed with ADHD, and shows significant signs of Asperger's Syndrome, as well as some OCD-type traits, but not enough to warrant an actual clinical diagnosis of either. Aside from the ADHD, about which there is no question, he doesn't really fit neatly into any particular category. He takes medication for the ADHD and up until recently he had been seeing a psychologist on a somewhat regular basis. The problem with the psychologist is that she is on the other side of the city, and has limited after school hours. So, it's a good 45 minutes, one way, an hour wait while he sees her, and 45 minutes on the way home. After school. In traffic. With two other kids. It's been difficult to stay in a regular pattern and over last summer and the beginning of this school year, we've just stopped going.

You know how when you have a cold, you try to take it easy for a couple of days? Maybe you call in sick, or ask your neighbor to walk your kids to the bus stop? Take medicine and try to get a little extra rest? You do that for a day or two (or three) and when you start to feel better, you stop doing those extra things. I've sort of regarded our interventions for Moe in the same way. Things had been going pretty well, and so we kind of slacked off doing the things he needs, in order to cope with his challenges.

Bad idea.

He needs help, and he's going to continue to need help. Just because he's managing to get through his days doesn't mean his needs are any less. I realized that this morning while I was talking to Dr. B. I've sort of harbored this suspicion that maybe I let him watch too much Sesame Street when he was a baby, or that I shouldn't have had those glasses of wine when I was first pregnant with him and didn't know it. Like it's somehow something I did or didn't do, that saddled him with these special needs.

I'm really hard on him sometimes too....I have high expectations of my kids and I don't apologize for that. But sometimes I wonder if I'm too hard, especially on him. At the same time, I don't want to let him off the hook....just because he has ADHD, that doesn't mean he gets a free pass for bad behavior that goes uncorrected.

We had a really bad weekend in terms of unacceptable behavior and I hate to admit it....but I need help. He needs help. It feels a bit like I've failed him, as his mom, that I can't help him on my own, that we need to call in the experts.

We're all so conditioned to disdain needing help and looking or being weak, not able to handle things on our own. I hate saying publicly that sometimes I can't handle my kid's behavior, or that I just don't know what to do to help him. But it is what it is, and we both need a little help. Sometimes I forget how difficult it is for him.

He's a fantastic kid, very bright with an incredibly vivid imagination. He is sweet and caring and affectionate. And, man, does he know his animals. He wants to be a conservationist when he grows up....he told me this in first grade. He doesn't want to get married, because, in his words, it will make more room in his house for the animals he wants to rescue. Just a great kid.

I don't want my frustration with my own inability to help him learn to behave in socially acceptable ways, to squash that beauty in him.

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