I posted a photo on social media of an intake form while I was waiting to see a behavioral therapist for Jack. It was hard to post. But I knew it was necessary. Necessary to break the stigma of admitting you and your child need help.
I’ve talked many time before about Jack’s high needs, strong willed nature. It was obvious from the minute he was born. This is hands down his best quality. He is going to be an amazing leader one day.
But this also makes it very hard to parent him. Like screaming matches at midnight with both of us in tears hard. He can even get Michael to start yelling and fighting—and Michael might be the single most calm person on the planet. I cannot think of one time in our whole relationship he as actually yelled at me. So, its saying a lot that a tiny person can make him mad.
There is also another, more sensitive side to him. He really cannot handle unexpected change well. This also makes it very hard to parent. Like holding him when he’s shaking with anxiety from falling down at the park. And he has this knack for doing stuff like this when you are in a hurry. Making you anxious and angry. Only adding to his anxiety and making it all worse.
There is also the stubbornness. When you tell him to put his shoes on to leave 15 minutes before you need to leave, but he plays on his room instead. When I ask him why his shoes are not on, he says he was not ready to leave yet. You can give him warnings that it’s time to go every 5 minutes for an hour. But if he isn’t ready to go then, he will have a meltdown still. He is also super stubborn about food. But this one I try not to battle over due to his food allergies.
Do all kids do these things? Of course. Does that mean something is wrong with them if they do? Absolutely not. It is only a true problem if it is interfering with their livelihood. And for Jack, it is.
These behaviors have interfered with some friends, his daycare provider, and obviously with his home life. Do I think he is a horrible problem child? Absolutely not. Do I want to fix him to make my life easier? Nope. I just want him to be the best version of himself possible. I want him to be happy. And right now he is not happy with having meltdowns. I don’t want to break his spirit, I just want to help him focus it into proper feelings and behaviors.
Michael and I talked about a therapist for over a year for him. We went through a lot of changes during that time—-, my HG, preterm labor and hospital stays, bringing home preemie baby brother, starting preschool, me going back to work almost full time, and moving twice. We waited until all that settled down in hopes he would get better. But, it actually got worse.
It was painful to say I was asking for a therapist referral to Michael. It was painful to make the appointment. It was painful to talk to the therapist. It was painful to hear the diagnosis. But it was also a major weight lifted off our whole family.
The initial appointment was parents only. Michael took the kids to the park while I went. It was just the way our schedules worked out, he will attend in the future.
I told the therapist my concerns and she asked more questions. Her preliminary diagnosis was adjustment disorder with anxiety. That may change when she meets him and learns more about him in person. But from what she described and what I researched, it seems pretty spot on.
She thinks he is highly intelligent and advanced for his age, but that is inferring with his emotional development. Especially with regards to transitions, change, and not getting his way. The anxiety over change is manifesting as anger or fear.
For now, she recommends we help him learn to regulate himself better by putting him on a better daily routine—mainly focusing on his sleep. We are doing this by making a good sleep routine and sticking to it each night. And dropping his nap and making bed time earlier. That way his brain gets more quality and quantity of sleep in one stretch to help him grow and develop better. (We did something similar with the No-Cry Sleep Solution as a baby, but I admit we fell out of this when Bear was born and I went back to work). She also suggested we give him melatonin to help his body relax.
It’s only been two weeks, so I am still processing as this. I know in terms of behavioral disorders, this is a mild one. But we unfortunately live a society with a stigma about mental illnesses and disorders of any kind. Let’s get rid of the stigma and start talking about it.
Maybe Jack will read this one day and be confused why this was even an issue for me to talk about.