Motherly instincts – I realized that I have them. I think I knew I had them, but I didn’t trust them. Now I trust them! I’ll start from the beginning – Braden, my first born, the one who made me a Mother to begin with.
When Braden was a baby he was such a joy to be around, as most parents believe their child to be. He was always smiling, laughing, playing, and showing affection. By 18 months he could speak well enough to form small sentences and by the time he was 2 he had learned his whole alphabet and could count to 20. I would draw the letter or number and he’d indicate which letter or number it was. He was clearly advanced but as a first time Mom I didn’t have anything to compare his development to and didn’t realize how impressive this actually was at his age. He hit every other milestone when he was “supposed” to. He was always a “good” kid. By that I mean he almost always took no for an answer, there were very minimum tantrums, and he stayed away from things the first time he was told. The only thing he took a long time to grasp, was how to use the potty. He wasn’t fully potty trained until he was over FOUR.
Fast forward a little bit to when his younger brother Chase is born and has begun reaching the point where he should be hitting these milestones Braden had hit so early. Chase was an early walker at 11 months. But by 18 months, he wasn’t forming sentences like Braden had been at that age. He couldn’t recognize ANY letters and numbers. I tried my best not to compare but it’s hard not to when they were so close in age, yet so different in development. Chase was always the stubborn, adventurous, and curious child. He had to be told no multiple times, he had infinite tantrums, and he could hurt himself doing something dangerous, yet still attempt to do it again. He was always my wild child. But somehow I knew that was just who he was and there was no underlying issue. (At least not thus far!)
With Braden, my “golden child”, I started to worry about him around the age of 3 when he really began showing a passion for video games and I personally felt like they were consuming him. That’s ALL he wanted to do and when he was focused on it, it was impossible to get his attention or bring him back to reality. He talked about his games endlessly. As someone with ADD I know hyperfocus when I see it, but somehow I didn’t recognize that as hyperfocus, but more as an addiction. He hit a plateau in his learning and it seemed like he was beginning to withdraw and regress. I noticed things about him I hadn’t noticed before, like how he flapped his arms repeatedly when he was excited, and how he never stopped bouncing or moving or flicking his fingers, and how things most chldren would consider trivial made him cry. But none of these things were things I was confident were issues. I thought I was being unreasonable and overly analytical. Kids will be kids, he’s just super active, he’s just sensitive, he’s just growing and developing his personality.
When he started school all my concerns really came to fruition. He was doing well academically but struggling to integrate socially. Struggling probably isn’t the right word, because in his mind nothing was wrong with this. He referred to himself as “shy” quite often when I’d ask him if he made any friends. Once in a while he’d play with a classmate and tell me it made him tired and he needed his space. His teacher was concerned because he was hesitant to participate in group activities with the rest of his class and he often told her and the other teachers that he preferred to play by himself.
This behaviour was alien to me. At home Braden is full of life, he enjoys playing video games, playing with his siblings. The idea that he didn’t want to be around other kids was baffling to me but I kept thinking he’d get over it and it was just a side effect of big changes in his life. His teachers seemed to believe that too, until he didn’t get over it. Nearly 5 months into school and he still struggled to conform. He was still doing well academically but had not shifted on anything else. He was having more frequent meltdowns over things like using the toilet, deciding what to eat for lunch, or taking too long to get ready. When his teacher reached out to me, I was sort of racked with guilt because I had been feeling like something was different about him for a while but ignored my intuition. I justified all his behaviours because he had always been a “typical” kid in every way and I felt like I was putting something on him that wasn’t there. But there is something there.
So we’ve begun the process of having him assessed. Keep in mind there are a lot of symptoms and traits I didn’t include here, because he has so so many. As a woman with ADHD, I see a lot of my own traits in him. That makes me wonder if perhaps he is ADHD rather than on the Autism Spectrum like we originally suspected. But if your instincts tell you there is something different about your child, listen to them. Early intervention can help them so much and it’s totally worth looking into. We are so ready to get the ball rolling on getting a diagnosis for Braden and it feels long overdue.
I can’t wait to begin helping him. He is my golden boy, always.