It’s been an intense ten years of parenting. That one sentence is up for Bloggy Understatement of the Decade. Ten years of worry to nearly the point of an ulcer (but bonus! when your stomach hurts, you don’t eat, and thus your pants fall off! Huzzah!). Ten years of research and reaching out and trying to find help. Ten years of second guessing myself, doubting myself, hating myself.
Because nothing was normal.
I try hard, so hard, to believe that “normal is just a setting on the washing machine.” (Huh. Just looked. Even my washing machine isn’t normal; that word is nowhere to be found on the machine.) My whole life I’ve tried to be normal, with varying degrees of success. I’m married, I have two kids, I have a dog, I have a minivan, I have a mortgage…all normal. Except. Little around here is normal. Poke around this site long enough and you’ll certainly find that.
Normal. Society’s way of forcing us to be like everyone else, even against our own souls. “Watch out for that one, she’s not normal.” “He needs more help, he’s outside the norm.” “Normal kids don’t act like that.”
Normal. Forcing us against our selves, since the dawn of time. Normal kept everyone in line. Normal was safe.
I’ve tried for ten years to get to normal with A. “Oh, if XYZ works, it’ll be normal and everything will be fine.” XYZ could equal getting the ADHD under control, calming the SPD, getting his dangerously underweight self back onto a positive growth arc, strengthening his executive function skills, you name it. The sheer cost of that search horrifies me. Normal.
This afternoon I had a conference with A’s 5th grade team. While I thought things were going reasonably well for him, my gut churned most of the day. New teachers to get up to speed, new expectations, new everything. Fifth grade is the year they start preparing the kids for middle school, so expectations are higher. Add to that the fact that the “odd” years (1st and 3rd grades) of school were painfully challenging, it’s no wonder I was a wreck. I even took the dog for a walk this afternoon to try to calm down. I can’t remember the last time I took Rosie for a walk in the middle of the day. While my mind kept trying to convince me everything was peachy, my gut…well, shoulda listened to my gut.
Three weeks into the school year and there are issues. Issues with attention, with direction, with anything regarding executive function skills. Issues with social interactions, with group projects, with not recognizing how his actions affect others. An hour of getting to know each other so the four of us could help A. Thirty minutes in I was praying we had wine at the house. And throughout it all, a quiet little whisper got gradually louder.
Talking about the next step in RTI, why he doesn’t already have an IEP, and what is twice-exceptional exactly?
Discussing what to do in class, at home, a possible social skills class during recess.
Mentally recalling all the not normal for a ten year old boy actions that are common in our house.
And my gut churned. Because none of this was normal.
A was around two when the big push for Autism recognition and research began. And I remember thinking, “Whew, dodged that bullet. He’s making all his milestones and all is well. He may be hyper and not sleep much, but he’s social and makes eye contact and plays well with others, so whew.”
I should never exhale concerning this child, I swear.
For some time I’ve wondered if A was Aspie. He does have Sensory Processing Disorder, which I’ve always thought of as “Aspie Lite,” but with occupational therapy has gotten much better. He certainly knocks on the door of that diagnosis, if only to play ding-dong-ditch with it. Ring! Run! Ring! Run! He’s always had some of the indications, but never really fit. Now I wonder. It’s almost as though the move has made some of the features more prominent. Asynchronous development in a 2e kid is one thing, but sometimes I think it’s a touch past that.
As the teachers and I chatted…and they really are wonderful women, just confused and flummoxed, as they’ve never had a (ahem) complex kid like this before…another little voice in my head started up.
I tried to get it to STFU, but it evaded my muzzle.
I really don’t need that voice in my head right now. Moving damned near broke us, I’m desperately trying to find a full time job because we’re looking at the third pay cut in three years, and I don’t think I’m strong enough for it.
Seriously, the voices in my head are out of control.
I am scared. I am overwhelmed. I feel alone. I do not know what to do. We have an appointment with a noted ADHD clinic next week for assistance and support, so that will be the first of many steps towards something resembling an answer. But striving for normal has ended. It will never be part of A. He will always be an outlier, that is who he is. Schools are designed for normal, and my son.just.isn’t. I must learn to no longer accept normal myself, so to best help my son. I must do what is right for HIM, and to hell with society. Society wants normal, they ain’t gettin’ it with him, and I’m not going to make him suffer for society.
Normal is now only a town in central Illinois, where I went to school and met my husband. Nothing more.
It no longer has a place in my home.