*Freaky Friday*

I figured that if I gave my post a title like FREAKY FRIDAY, it might lighten up the subject matter. Lately, it seems Friday has become the day for tragic posts involving my son’s development. As I often do, I’ve entered that stage of acceptance where I begin viewing his newly diagnosed syndrome with humor. Laughter is the best medicine, right?

My little guy and I spent a considerable amount of time in the pediatrician’s office yesterday. Have I told you how much I love our pediatrician? So does Joe.

Yes, he still has ADHD and we’re adjusting his medication to help those symptoms.

It also seems that he has Aspberger Syndrome…which is what I have suspected for quite some time. My gut was right.

When he was two and we were living in Boston, Joe went to an amazing preschool run by an amazing teacher. Her name was Siobhan. Siobhan and I both remarked that he had trouble making eye contact. It was then that I became aware that he didn’t play with the other children. He was just never fully socially engaged. From the age of two, Joe preferred building extremely complex structures with Magnetix. So much so, that one day, Siobhan saved one of his structures to show me. It was two feet tall and perfectly symmetrical in design and color. That structure presented a troubling mixture of amazement and alarm.

That summer, we went to Martha’s Vineyard and I bought Joe a wooden box filled with complicated Curious George puzzles. He sat in a restaurant and completed all four puzzles in less than thirty minutes and without any help.

When he was three, he became obsessed with two DVDs from a NOVA series called The Elegant Universe. He watched it every day, choosing theoretical physics, string theory and Michio Kaku over shows like Sesame Street or Thomas.

My guy has never really made a best friend. He’s not like the other guys. Group situations either cause him to find a solitary task or behave awkwardly.

In New Hampshire, Joe went to the Exeter Day School. It was there that a boy punched our four year old son in the stomach on the playground. Later, at summer camp, I watched a boy push and kick him while I sat in the carpool line. He was yelling at the boy to stop and the teachers leading the camp were nearby, but no one helped him. When we brought the situation to the staff’s attention, the woman said, “Well, Joe tends to go off by himself. He doesn’t play with the other kids…” as if was Joe’s fault that he was being hurt. That woman never apologized or explained why Joe’s behavior was never brought to our attention. We pulled Joe from that camp and cancelled Gwen’s planned preschool attendance.

Kindergarten began and Joe’s issues became more evident. Carpet time proved to be one of the biggest areas of difficulty. Joe wanted to lay down. Joe invaded the space of other children. Joe wasn’t picking up on social cues.

We moved to Maine that year and Joe finished Kindergarten here but his troubles have continued. Trouble with carpet time and coordination and bullying and tears.

Last year, Joe didn’t qualify for the 504 because he is too “academically advanced.” In the meantime, he struggles socially and his self-esteem has plummeted. At bedtime the other night, Joe said, “It’s easier for me to bad than it is for the other kids. For them, it’s easy to be good.” I assured him that he’s a good boy. A smart boy. A kind boy. A loved boy.

His diagnosis doesn’t change the way I view my son. Not at all. However, it makes me more aware of the way he is treated by people who don’t know. Strangers, teachers, family and friends who don’t know or understand that he is not purposely being naughty. I don’t want him to feel labeled, but I do want to empower him. Mostly, I want him to know that he is loved. I want him to go school and enjoy his time there without feeling like a bad boy, or a different boy or a boy who will be picked on.

And so, we begin the journey to give our son what he needs.

Buh, Bye Booger Wall!

As parents, we tend to overlook some of the more ground-breaking hypotheses that our children deliver. Mostly because we’ve been desensitized by their inane chatter. There must be some base instinct aimed at preserving our sanity that has enabled us to tune them out yet, respond to hours-long monotone diatribes about Bakugans and Yoshi’s with a series of non-committal mmm, hmms and random uh, huhs. Lately, Joe has begun to remind me of a character from the movie Meet the Robinsons. The villain who, as a child, suffers from a lack of sleep and seemingly never stops talking. Not ever. Joe has become the child version of Michael “Goob” Yagoobian. 

Joe recently started medication for ADHD of the Inattentive Type and, two days after beginning the medication, David and I endured 40 minutes of incessant talking. Talking with no breaks. If he did happen to take a break say, to breathe, he started over again at the beginning of whatever convoluted and wildly uninteresting tale he was trying to relay.

His droning monologue began in the minivan, continued through two errands, back into the van and finally, mercifully ended in the kitchen. The child didn’t even stop talking when we shut the doors to the van, paused for a breather, then opened the sliders to let the kids out. Gwen had melted into her booster seat, wearing a glazed expression similar to what I imagine the people who have undergone music torture must wear.

We resisted giving him the drugs for nearly a full year after his original diagnosis, so when this new chatty version of Joe evolved, I was concerned. Under the circumstances, I did what any mom would do. I jacked one of his pills to see what it felt like. It is, after all, a form of speed that we’re pushing on our son. However, seeing as I already talk a lot it was, in retrospect, kind of a stupid experiment.  I did, however, learn that going to your physician, explaining that you’ve stolen one of your son’s Adderall and seen the light, then requesting a prescription of your very own probably isn’t the brightest idea. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that they had a good laugh when I left the building.

Where was I going with this? Oh, right…inattentive ADHD and excessive talking.  

Thankfully, Joe’s non-stop talking has leveled to a socially tolerable state and, with his newfound clarity, I’ve begun to tune back in. I’ve discovered that he’s a deep thinker. I mean, I always knew that he had some important stuff tumbling around in that little head, but now he can actually present his theories in an organized and intelligent manner. I’ve been learning something new every day!

This morning Joe was wiping the sand from his eyes when I jokingly told him the Sandman had brought him dreams and, while he was there, he stopped to poop in his eyes (I know, I know… I’m not the most appropriate or mature mother in the world, no need to leave nasty comments).  Without missing a beat he turned and looked at me, “Actually, that’s not true.”  

Oh, really?

I detected a hint of eye roll. “It’s just boogers that go up to your eyes.”

I was intrigued by his reasoning. “What do you mean; it goes up to your eyes?”

As if suddenly realizing that I’m an idiot, he explained, “When you pick your nose it makes some go straight up into your eyes and some goes into your ears.”

“So let me get this straight. Booger picking causes eye boogies and ear wax?”

“Well, not just picking them…you have to eat them too.”

“Okay, so if you pick your nose and eat it you’ll end up with eye boogers and ear wax?”

“Right,” he confirmed.

“So…you’ve been eating boogers then?”

“Right,” was his matter of fact response, “I think I’m going to stop though because I’m thinking that eating boogers gave me that earache a few weeks ago by causing extra ear wax.”

So there you have it. Adderall has provided my boy with the clarity he needed to kick a nasty booger eating habit. He’s taking a stand and knocking that monkey off his back once and for all. Maybe together we’ll tackle the removal of the Booger Wall behind his bunk bed this weekend.

If you have enjoyed this edition of Narragansett No. 7 please take a moment to vote by clicking on the obnoxious flashing brown button down below. One click, once a day casts a vote for No. 7 and tells me that you like me…you really like me. You do, don’t you?

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