I almost hesitate to write this, even though it’s the perfect post for today’s GHF Blog Hop on health and wellness with gifted kids. As a lifelong Cubs fan, I have a healthy dose of superstition topped with hard-won experience a la mode. It tastes like an old shoe, the one ready to drop. I’m sure you know that flavor. It’s not one you’re going to find at the local ice cream shop.
A turned 13 last week, and with that milestone Tom and I officially hit nine years of “what the hell?” When he was four we started down that rocky road of “What the hell?” as we tried to figure out…anything. Why the intense meltdowns? Why didn’t he sleep? Why does he have such stomach problems? Why was he always on the move? Why did he fight transitions so intensely? Why did he require such immense detail for bedtime stories about the solar system? Why did it always feel like I was talking through static to get to him? Was it normal that he never asked “why?” but “how’s it work?” instead? Was it normal that he totally understood plate tectonics in preschool? Was it normal that he solved a brand new floor puzzle in 15 minutes? With the image facing the floor? When he was three? Why can’t the school help him? Why isn’t he gaining weight and growing? Why is he nothing like any other kid his age? Why why why?
“What the hell?”
It’s been a very long nine years.
When I do talks and roundtables about twice-exceptional kids, the conversation nearly always shifts to what we can do to help our G2e kids. And it hits me hard every single time when I recount what we’ve done to help A. You name it, we probably did it. Gifted evaluation, occupational therapy, vision therapy, listening therapy, therapy therapy, homeopathy, chiropractic, ear filter for central auditory processing disorder, tutors, sleep studies, tonsillectomy, weighted blankets and lap pads, dietary changes, several different ADHD medications, the IEP evaluation from hell that we eventually halted, four different GI specialists, an endocrinologist, many sucky tests in hospitals, and finally homeschooling. The partridge in a pear tree has been on backorder forever.
Rarely any answers, rarely any lasting improvements. Too many evaluations with the final result of “there’s something going on, but we can’t figure it out because it doesn’t really fit into any of our boxes, so good luck.” And always the whispering mom gut feeling that all of it was connected in some way, that there was nothing really “wrong” with him per se, but that something was off with his sensitive system and if we could find…it? something? the Golden Ticket?…then he would heal, everything would fall into place, and he would be the “him” I could feel was in there trying to break out and shine. This whole time being cried at, “Quit trying to fix me! I’m not broken! I like the way I am!”
The strain of it all has not done us any favors. My stress has been pinned in the red zone for so long that it started to seem normal to be juuuust on the edge of an anxiety attack every day. Always waiting for the next disaster, for the next problem, for the hidden and scary and expensive. I’m sure you can imagine just how awesome I am to live with at that level of high-alert.
But things may have turned a corner.
In January I started a new part time job at a holistic health care center. I love my job and the people I work with. Everything is focused on helping people become their best selves. It is a place of peace, of hope, of healing.
Two months ago I started taking A there, after yet another round of expensive tests once again ended with the result of “there’s something going on, but we can’t figure it out because it doesn’t really fit into any of our boxes, so good luck.” (This is eerily similar to my journey to the acupuncturist six years ago; after western medicine said there was nothing wrong with me that healthy food and a good sleep couldn’t cure, acupuncture brought me back from the adrenal fatigue dead). He’s been working with my boss, a skilled chiropractor/holistic physician who also does energy work.
Believing that I live in a benevolent and supportive universe I will now say it, and know that the other shoe won’t drop.
A’s improvement has been nothing short of stunning. Jaw-dropping. Tom and I look at each other every single day in amazement, afraid to speak of it aloud.
This is a child who didn’t gain a single damn pound in four years. Not one, in four long years. Want to know helpless fear? Watch your tween be outgrown by not only his peers, but his three years younger brother, and doctors didn’t know why. He fell off the weight segment of the growth chart two years ago. Not long after he started working with my boss he had two long-scheduled doctors appointments a week apart; he had gained three pounds in a week.
He is calmer, he is more centered. We took him off his ADHD medications, and have seen no increase in hyperactivity or inattention. He is more engaging, he is more present. He is more relaxed, he is more flexible. He is more affectionate, he is more considerate. On Friday morning we drove to Iowa for Easter; before we left he stumbled into my bedroom apologizing because he thought his slowness was preventing us from leaving on time. He hadn’t slept well the night before and was dragging hard. Recognizing that his behavior and/or reactions were affecting others? That is big, just huge. His sense of humor is through the roof, even when the humor is directed at him; he’s able to laugh at himself better, and play along more. His posture has improved; instead of being hunched into himself, as though he was trying to hide, he is standing more confidently, and occasionally asks if he’s standing up straight. He has taken ownership of his diet, and is strictly following the dietary recommendations of the doctor: no gluten, no dairy, no corn, very very low refined sugar, lots of water. At a recent maker event, he went to the guy leading it, asked a few more questions, then shook his hand and thanked him for his time.
He is more himself than he ever has been.
My parents and brother cannot believe the transformation, and have commented on it several times recently. It’s as though a clouded window has had a corner scrubbed clean and suddenly some light has escaped to shine on everyone, including A himself. When the entire window is sparkling and transparent? That kid is going to blind us all with the light that has been struggling so long and so hard to escape.
The last few weeks Tom and I have started to feel ourselves relax. Just a little; it took 13 years to get to this point, it’s going to take awhile to bring it all the way down. But I’ll tell you…we’re enjoying parenting a lot more lately. Our challenging kid is suddenly fun.
I don’t know what the tipping point was, I really don’t. I just know that by mid-February we had tried everything and were getting nowhere fast. I strongly believe that my kid, with his particular set of issues, desperately needed the kind of holistic medicine and energy work he is getting now. A is doing so well that I’m starting to feel more hopeful about his future, for the first time maybe ever. He still has a long ways to go, mainly because he was being held back by his own system for so long, but he is improving daily.
I know I may get skeptical comments about holistic medicine and energy work, but I don’t give a damn. You don’t have to understand it or believe it, but I have seen the results with my son…and with myself…and with Tom…and I am so very grateful. It works for us.
For me, a rainbow-farting unicorn is a fluid metaphor for what I want and need for twice-exceptional kids. Things like societal recognition and acceptance (this includes the education system), accommodations for challenges in addition to deeper work for the intelligence, and (ohhh, the Holy Grail) a 2e kid with executive function skills that, you know, function. Things like that. Things that, if they suddenly appeared, would ride in on the back of a large unicorn, followed by a glittery rainbow emanating from the hindquarters of the aforementioned mythical creature. Just because I haven’t seen any of these with my own eyes doesn’t mean they don’t exist, so I continue to believe in rainbow-farting unicorns and can’t wait to see one of my own.
I still don’t have my rainbow-farting unicorn, and may likely never have one. Today I’m more okay with that than I ever have been. But I will tell you, for the first time, I smell glitter.
It smells a lot like hope.
Today’s post was part of April’s Gifted Homeschoolers Forum blog hop, on the topic of health and wellness in gifted and twice-exceptional children. Please go check out other blog hop participants!