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Am I giving my child everything he needs?

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Am I giving my child everything he needs?

Do you ever wonder if you're doing the right thing as a parent?

Do you ever wonder if the choices you're making today will have a negative impact on your child's future?

We have some behavior issues with our oldest. We've always had them. He's not your average kid, and that's fine. He's a little different. Not everybody gets him. Most days, I don't even get him.

He has always struggled with behavior in the classroom and at home. In his younger years he struggled a great deal, and some of those disturbing behaviors are still present. Some days I just wonder if I'm doing everything I can to give him what he needs.

He has come a long way, and I know that's partly due to homeschool. The stress of being "different", was just too much for him at public school. Teachers did not understand him, and most students didn't either. He never struggled academically, and always made straight A's and high test scores, so he was pretty much just a nuisance to teachers. The student you don't have time to work with because he's not failing. He's just a behavior problem, nothing more. Not a great kid who needs someone to understand him, not a child who has loads of potential, just a distraction. I didn't feel like that was fair. He was a great kid who was always in trouble. He needed more than he was getting in the classroom setting.

So we decided to homeschool. But, some days I worry if we made the right choice. I've posted before about our decision to homeschool, and most days, I'm so glad we're doing it. But, it's hard. He's acting out again, and I just wish I knew what the triggers were.

We've never really been able to pin point the root of his behavioral issues.

We've seen psychologists, therapists, neurologists, and psychiatrists over the years. He's 12 now. We had our first visit with a psychologist  when he was 7. We just never really got anywhere-with anyone!

It's exhausting to see these specialists and feel like you get nowhere. It's hard for him too. It makes him feel awful to see this person or that person to try to figure out what's "wrong" with him. Especially, now that he's older. He's embarrassed. Going to appointments like that make him feel bad about himselfself. I hate puting him through it. Especially when we have never really gotten any solid results. What's the point?

For the last year or so, we decided to just chill out, and focus on the positive. He's a great kid. We thought we'd just embrace the challenges. Except the things that were hard, and love him no matter what.

Is that like denial? Am I doing a disservice to him. We're his only advocates. What if he needs something we're not giving?

Ironically, his social behavior is like NIGHT AND DAY (in a good way) since we've been homeschooling. He has blossomed more in that area than any other. I'm so proud of him! He's building relationships, and his overall social interaction skills are wonderful compared to a couple of years ago.

Many people have the misconception that your kids are at a social disadvantage when they are homeschooled, but it's not true! He's been able to really build relationships in the past year that have been wonderful for him. It has given him the chance to have more time than the lunch room allows to build friendships. He's not able to connect that fast, and it was hard for him to make connections at school with such a limited amount of social time allowed.

He's an awesome kid! He's brilliant, funny, caring, loving...did I say FUNNY? 'Cause this kid is a a hoot!

But most days, he feels bad about himself. Because he's struggled with his day, or had an outburst or meltdown. There are days when I run out of patience, and wonder if I'm expecting more than he can give me.

No one can ever really give me solid answers that help.

Because he has a hard time focusing sometimes, and has some other ADHD tendencies, that's always the direction the pro help leans toward. We're not against that theory, at all! But medication didn't help him, and in fact, it made his behavior WAY WORSE. It didn't help him focus, and had no positive side effects. Needless to say, we stopped.

I have this gut feeling that there's something else. I've wondered is he has a mild form of autism. I've asked about this, but I just get shrugged off like the hated mom who does her own research online. Maybe I'm way off base? Maybe there's nothing going on. But, perhaps he's so below spectrum that it's just being shrugged off as ADHD? He has other symptoms. But, I feel like all people ever hear is "lack of focus".

He has senstivity issues, OCD tendancies, sensory and processing can be a problem sometimes. Sigh...why doesn't anyone ever hear those things?

It depends where you go. If you see a psychologist, he'll tell you he's "gifted", "his intelligence causes a disability for him", blah, blah, blah. If I take him to a psychiatrist, he's diagnosed with ADHD in 5 minutes.
I just don't know.

Other pros have said he has anxiety, depression. I believe that, but I also think the anxiety and depression stems from a lack of being able to cope with whatever the REAL problem is.

I know we've tried medicine and it doesn't work. We've tried weekly therapy to give him coping and life skills. We've tried just plain old love and understanding, but we're missing something.

It's the worst feeling.

Most days, I believe his attitude is his biggest road block, but sometimes I think he's really trying and feels like a failure. I hate that! One of the reasons I began homeschooling him was to help build his confidence back up. I think it has some, but he has a way to go.

Sometimes I feel ill-equipped. Does he need more than I can give him?

Part of me feels like no one knows him better that me. The other part of me realizes I know nothing!

I've had days when I'm questioning whether or not homeschool is the best thing for him. We go back and forth, and always end up with a "YES", and deep down I think we're right. When hubs and I sit down and really talk about the alternative, we always end up realizing that this is best right now. If we put him back in PS, we'd still have the same problems, and most likely they would increase. He would regress emotionally for sure, and any progress we've made would be canceled out. It's not really a matter of where he goes to school. It's a matter of figuring out how to help him, no matter what setting.

Not to mention, we didnt get the guidance we needed when he was in PS.
Not to mention, he doesn't want to go back!

I hate when family members (none of which really truly support homeschool) ask when he's going back to public school. They see his progress socially, and think, "Oh he's fine." But, they have no idea what we deal with everyday. They don't really KNOW my child. They don't really KNOW what PS was like for him.

Sometimes I just wish I could get an email confirmation.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. X:

Thank you for your interest in our All-knowing Parenting Program. We are sending you this email as confirmation that your son will in fact go to college, succeed in life, grow to be a productive member of society, have a job he loves that also provides for his family, marry  a sweet girl who treats him right, be an excellent father and husband, and will thank you for all of your hard work, love, and care.

Your confirmation number is: GHF1259JL

Please print this for your records.

Thank you for your inquiry.

We look forward to working with you again,
The All Knowing Parenting Team

Since this will not be coming to my inbox anytime soon, I will rest assured knowing I'm doing everything I can. In the big picture, I expected things to take a few years to see any real positive changes. I've already seen some.

I will just have to be patient. I love him with all of my heart, and only want what's best for him.

It's so hard making decisions that will affect our children.

It's so hard to think they need our help, and we just don't know how to help them.

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At February 9, 2011 at 10:07 AM , Blogger VandyJ said...

I sympathize. As a parent we only want what is best for our kids--it's just hard sometimes to know what best is. Keep trying, that's what I do.

At February 9, 2011 at 10:31 AM , Anonymous heidi @ wonder woman wannabe said...

Oh, girl - - -
I think this post nothing but reflects that you ARE in fact doing everything in your power to meet his needs.

Take confidence that the Lord made YOU his mama. You have everything needed to raise your little guy up (with His help, of course)

Keep asking for wisdom, and I'm confident the Lord will provide it. (James 1:5)

Keep listening to your child and your 'mommy gut' maybe even find a community of other H.S.moms with challenging kiddos that can're doing GREAT!


At February 9, 2011 at 12:45 PM , Anonymous Craig said...

Adrienne. I heart your love for your kids. You are an awesome mom.

They may have “experts” at the public school – but none of them has your love.

You can read, and learn, but they can and never will love.

God Bless and Keep You and Yours

At February 9, 2011 at 1:21 PM , Blogger Shell said...

I want an email like that, please!

It is SO HARD to know if we are doing the right thing with our kids.

So hard.

But, you are a such a caring and dedicated mama.

At February 9, 2011 at 2:55 PM , Blogger Lady Jennie said...

Hi Adrienne,

Visiting you from Shell's. Forgive my "help" as I know it can be so annoying from people who don't know you or your circumstance, but sometimes just right on. Have you tried diet? "Feast Without Yeast" is written by doctors who were trying to help (even save) their son.

Okay I'll say no more on that - if it helps great if not, let me not chew your ear off.

I don't home school and don't need to, but I have never seen a home school project gone bad. Never. It's amazing the progress you've made with him already. Keep up the good work.

And go you for loving and loving, even when it's difficult.

Hugs :)

At February 9, 2011 at 7:20 PM , Blogger Sara {Sara's Closet} said...

As I was reading your post...I too, though maybe he has a form of Autism. My son, Benjamin, was diagnosed at the at of 2. He is now four. But as you described in your post, I felt like he might have Asperger's Syndrome. This disorder is on the ASD spectrum (Autism). Because Autism can have a range rather than a "one-size fits all" diagnosis. Aspergers is a high-functioning form of Autism. they have difficulty in social situations, interactions and are amazing in academics(geniuses). But of course, this is only an opinion of one mother, I can't diagnosis him, I don't know anything about him. I hope not to scare you, it's nothing to be scared of, your son will always be "himself", no matter what physical label the world puts on him. Knowing the "answer", if there is one, would just set you in the direction for helping your son. There is so much help for children with Autism and Aspergers, with it...they can help them process the world around them and bring them a sense of peace. It is something to look into and see if your insurance has a way of giving you the correct outlets to get him professionally diagnosed. they normally set you up to see an occuaptional therapist, psychologist and speech therapist. Go with your instincts and remember you know your son better than anyone else. YOU are his only advocate. Pray for strength and guidance and I know you will find it. good luck and keep us posted =)

At February 9, 2011 at 7:40 PM , Blogger blueviolet said...

In your heart and in your gut, you know you're doing the best you can for your child, and that's what matters. Love the letter!

At February 10, 2011 at 12:56 AM , Blogger platanosandmangoes said...

Your sweet boy sounds like two of my friends sons( both have aspergers syndrome)Keep advocating for your son regardless of what the Dr.'s tell you!Especially if you're discerning something else is going on as well!

At February 11, 2011 at 12:00 PM , Blogger Catheryn @ PinkBibs said...

Hi Adrienne,

It is hard to decide if we are doing things right for our kids but one thing for sure, you are doing the best you can for them. God bless you, your journey of motherhood and your loved ones. Keep up the good work and being such a wonderful and sincere mom :)

At February 13, 2011 at 7:55 PM , Anonymous Bonny said...

My sister brought me to your blog. And I'm so glad she did. We have 4 boys. One of which is exactly like you have described your son here. I understand your frustration with the situation and public school. Your post actually made me cry because I realized that someone else out there gets what I'm going through. I am not a home school kind of mom but I have toyed with the idea for this son in particular. We also have seen a number of specialists to try and figure out what is going on with him. We too, have met the same roadblocks and opinion from these specialists. And like you, we have come to the same conclusion about a mild form of autism. All while being told that he is fine, it's all in my head or that he is ADHD. My friends and family can see that he is different but even they have no idea what every day is like with him. Thank you so much for your blog.

At April 4, 2011 at 6:01 PM , Blogger Erin said...

Hi! I'm here from SITS and went wandering around your site to see what you had to say about homeschooling (we homeschool, too). I definitely know what you mean about wondering if you're doing enough! I heard a parenting expert once say that we are not responsible for how our kids turn out, God is. They come to us with their own personalities and their own paths to walk. So as long as we do the best we can, God will make up the difference and take them where they need to be, because He loves them even more than we do! So we have to have faith in that. That thought has helped me a lot in the process of raising kids, so whether you ever find some kind of "diagnosis" for your son, or if you just do your best and he just grows up a little "different", I hope it will help you too!

At April 4, 2011 at 7:30 PM , Anonymous Caren with a "C" said...

Isn't it wonderful to see your child make big strides!!! Your son sounds like my 12 year old son. In first grade we worked with National Association of Child Development (NACD) instead of doing meds. We worked on processing issues. It got too expensive though for our budget. Every year we had social issues at school and to make that worse, his teacher we had been waiting to get for 5th grade died two months into the school year. For 6th grade we started California Virtual Academy (CAVA) using K12 which is a way in California to homeschool. I wasn't gutsy enough to think I could give him everything academically he needed without some curriculum help. I have seen my son make big strides this year (our first year homeschooling) and he has really grown in maturity. We have found that perhaps my son has Expressive Writing disorder (and my daughter also). My husband has it and was just like them, but he wasn't lucky enough to have parents notice and take him out of school to give him the one on one academic and social attention that he needed.
I'll be interested in seeing how things play out for your boys. Best Wishes!

At April 26, 2011 at 10:58 AM , Blogger LisaAnn said...

Adrienne dear I know that you are a great Mom who is doing all you can for your son! The fact that you care enough to homeschool and research proves that (although, knowing you personnally I can attest to your wonderfulness!).

I think it does sound like mild asperger's sydrome. I have a niece on one side of the family and a nephew on the other side of the family with it and they sound so much alike! That said, I don't believe medication helps them at all. Have you tried eliminating food dyes and artificial flavorings? There are many studies showing these things really irritate issues such as these. Give me a call if you want to chat about it.


At April 26, 2011 at 11:00 AM , Blogger LisaAnn said...

OH- also, you have to realize that he is at the leading edge of adoslesence- he is going to have mood, behaviorlal issues for the next several years that may be more extreme than the average kid.

At December 29, 2011 at 11:40 AM , Blogger Adrian's Crazy Life said...

My son is almost exactly like yours. Funny, adorable, and very smart, but just a tiny bit "off". Scouts has been a big help for him and I also did a lot of early intervention for him when he was younger that I think was a big help. I have a recent post called "They Make Blind Children See" about the program we went through.

One of the things that was very helpful for us was a book called "It's so much work to be your friend". Great practical advice on social skills that most kids pick up on automatically, but our kids really struggle with. By Richard Lavoie. I need to re-read it when I get a chance. Good luck to you.


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