...because we all have our motley moments!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Judging Alex

“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.” 2 Rachel, 27:12. OK, it’s not really from the book of Rachel, that’s just an inside joke from our Circle Bible Study. The verse actually comes from Matthew 7:1, and as a former gossip girl and judger of many, I have often pretended this verse didn’t apply to me. As I grew up and faced more trials, I learned that my rational actions and decisions probably looked crazy to most people: i.e. crying in airports when I was taking infertility drugs. I now understand that God wants us to leave the judging to him because we cannot possible know enough about other people’s lives to accurately judge them.

I say all of this because I am constantly being judged by strangers. Preschoolers draw attention. It is just a way of life for this time in their lives, and my son Alex seems to draw a lot of attention. Everywhere we go, people know who Alex is because he either strikes up a conversation with any given stranger, or they hear me yell his name as I run after him. Alex lives life to the fullest, and pushes the limits whenever possible. Strangers often see Alex as a child whose parent doesn’t make him mind, but that isn’t reality. I know more about him than anyone else, and most of what I know is kept secret.

Denial is the second stage of grieving, and I have been in this stage for over a year now. Last May, we took Alex to a specialist in Chicago because we had some concerns about a few developmental delays. The short story is this: Alex has some adoption-related special needs. They gave us two diagnoses. One I agree with, and one I wish wasn’t true. They are experts in this field of study, so I am sure they are right, but I like to pretend they aren’t.

I was actually hoping they would tell me he had ADD, which they didn’t. I just wanted someone to tell me that Alex has way more energy than any other child ever. The one diagnosis everyone agrees on is this: Alex has SPD, sensory processing disorder. He is a sensory seeking child, who loves to touch everything and always needs to be moving. He loves running and is in heaven if someone is chasing him. If he doesn’t have anything to do, he will chew on anything close. If nothing is close, he will chew on his fingers. Since I didn’t agree with their other diagnosis, I took Alex to another specialist last winter. She said that Alex does have ADD, but she wouldn’t formally diagnosis that until he is 5 or 6. Our family doctor still believes that there is another diagnosis out there, maybe something on the autism spectrum. I think he is probably right.

In two weeks, Alex will have a screening for preschool. I am going to have to share this with them, and I dread it. I am afraid of two things: What if they say there is nothing wrong with him (and all of the unmentioned challenges we face every day are typical, and it’s all in my head)? OR What if they say he does have special needs (they probably will, but I am still in denial!)? I live with a strange dichotomy: I don’t want Alex to have any letters explaining his behavior, but I don’t want to believe his behaviors are typical.

Here is another paradox. I believe people are judging me based on how my child behaves, but if they knew what I knew, they probably wouldn’t judge him. I don’t want anyone to know about his special needs, but they need to know so they can better understand him. I just think he is so great, and I don’t want anyone to see anything less than I see – a terrifically wonderful “perfect for me” kid.


Maria said...

Hello Dear!
I think Alex is great too! Things will work out OK. You are a great Mom.

My suggestion is to take one day at a time and make decisions as you need to at each point.

The future can seem overwhelming sometimes, but if you can look back at all you've been through and how God has helped you, maybe it'll give you more strength to tackle your current issues.

Take care! :)

Liz said...

I'm glad you got such wise counsel from Maria because I didn't know what to say! I think Alex is great, though, and you're a great mom and you're in for a lifetime of good times with him. :)

fawnda said...

Hi Pam,
As a teacher I did not like to read all of my Sp. Ed. reports until the second week of school. I did not want to have my first impression of the student be based on the initials on a piece of paper. But most times once I did look at them I would be like "Oh, now that makes more sense! I knew there was something more to this kid."

I think that there is a balance to letting a child's issues go ignored and letting a label rule their life. I think that it is always good to look at each event/ person separately and decide how much information is best shared. Not everyone needs to know everything.

Really the people who are closest to Alex will know that he is a great kid! I also think that he is really lucky to have you as a mom, who cares what the old cranky lady at the grocery store thinks! : )

Feener said...

wow you just described my daughter and just today i am having her evaluated by a child study team. i decided to hold her another year before kindergarten but now i realize that maybe she is ready and would need to be a classified student. totally relate to your post

Anonymous said...

My son also has SPD, and his teachers have included the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. The good ones always had 2 goals for their classroom: to have it run well, and to set each student up for success. I've found if I phrase "Bud's" special needs in those terms, they tend to be much more receptive. As in, "Bud will be much more successful if he can walk at the front or the end of the line," or "it helps our home run well if Bud is encouraged to seek constructive sensory input." Good luck!

Donna said...

Pam, you're doing an amazing job with your little guy and anyone who can't see how lovable and sweet he is must be blind. Your compassion and careful thought and planning are going to be the greatest catapult to his success and your family's well-being. Keep it up, girl, and trust your instincts when it comes to disclosing his special needs. Those who can play a role in meeting his special needs will benefit from the knowledge.

Good luck with preschool!

Pam said...

Hi everyone - thank you all for the words of support! I am especially glad to hear from someone that knows what SPD is!!!! We do have some other minor issues, but I think the SPD is responsible for most of our challenges to you. I loved to hear from you all! Thanks again!!

Lindsay said...

God created all of us to be unique, and he didn't make mistakes. You are an amazing mother to Alex, and he is an amazing kid. Anyone who meets him can feel in enthusiasim for life. Yes you will run across judgmental people in your lives, but there is no getting around that. Just ignore them and find confidence in God's love.

My husband has Tourette's syndrome, and there is still a possibility that my children will have it (it's not really noticable until they reach the age of 5-7). It took my dh years of testing to diagnosis what he had. But once they had the information they needed they were able to help him be the best person he could be. It took some adjustment but know most people don't even know he has it.

So hang in there! And just keep on doing what you're doing.

Pam said...

Wow Lindsay, I have only seen your dh a few times, but I had no idea. Thank you so much for the encouragement. I will be making a list of Alex's strenghts, and it is great to have qualities from others to add to my list. I am a little biast.