Okay, I happen to be something of an over-diagnoser. I am not hypochondriac and tend more to disbelieve something is wrong than assume it is wrong. Nonetheless I am big on learning about health, wellness, nutrition, development, etc. and maybe because I know SO much about what can cause issues I might be seeing more than is there. That being said, my kid does not seem 'normal' either. I don't know many kids well (like beyond a 2 hour playdate) so I have little perspective. So maybe you all can give me some?
My son is 4.5 and has always been somewhat intense. Nursed a lot until I weaned him at 25 months--he was still nursing every 2-3 hours, day and night. He started showing signs of 'giftedness' early on, like doing mental math at 2 and using advanced reasoning and language very early, too. Now at 4.5 he's clearly bright, but not reading or doing division or anything--then again he's not had much exposure and no lessons, educational (or any) TV, leapfrog, etc.
He's always been pretty high energy, but with the ability to also have stellar attention, sit quietly for an hour-long meal or a long book with few/no pictures. It's like his highs are higher, bigger, louder, etc while his times of calm and attention (at least at 2 or 3) were impressive for his age, now they seem average in that regard.
He feels others' emotions very keenly, if anyone is upset (even a baby we don't know crying at a restaurant, but especially if it's my husband or I) he gets angry, aggressive (not physically anymore, but his words and general energy are loud, hard, angry). He seems to have anxiety in certain situations, while being a very outgoing and social kid. Some kids cling to mom when unsure of a situation--he gets louder and more crazy, or angry even. Everyone within earshot knows when he's in a bad mood!
In the last several months he has been going through periods of what looks like OCD. At one point he had to pee every time he had even a sip of water, he still does that a little, but not as obsessively. Now he has to kiss himself constantly--by this I mean he kisses his fingertips and then touches the fingertips to various parts of his body. Some days it is only at story time and bedtime. Some days it is non-stop. Some days he does it to other things, too, like all over the grocery store. He is generally not upset while doing this, doesn't even seem to really notice he is doing it. When we call attention to it, it seems to get worse/more frequent. Sometimes he says he's kissing a boo boo (like if his leg barely brushes something) and other times he says he's cleaning himself/something else. He does not have any issues around cleanliness at all, loves to get dirty, wet, etc, No issues with clothing, tags, etc. Does not care about how things are arranged nor what order he gets dressed, where things go, how he eats his food. He eats anything and everything--all textures, mixed up or separate. Eggs cooked any way I do it. Does not care if others touch him, is a little more touchy-feeling than his peers, but not like he has to touch everyone all the time.
It does seem worse on grey/rainy days, when we don't get out or get physical as much, and when he's getting sick.
He's never been a great sleeper, waking up many times as a baby and toddler, and probably 3 times a night at 3 and 4--usually to pee and then go right back to sleep. He had some night terrors at 2.5 but only for a month or so. And then one every now and then since (like every few months). He asks if he's safe "Mommy, am I safe?" anytime he goes to another floor (alone) in our house, also when falling asleep. He does not sound or act scared at all when asking this.
I have had so many theories about what makes him worse or better. Lately salicylates *seem* to bother him when in high amounts, but I am already second guessing that as he's been low sals for a week and the last two days have been worse (it is also been grey/rainy for 2 days and we've been inside mostly).
Lastly, his diet is really clean and always has been--no artificial anything, no neurotoxins, traditional foods whole diet. He's had no vaccines, no antibiotics, no medications of any kind except homeopathics and herbs on occasion. He's never had any illnesses past a minor cold or self-limiting fever/virus. Hasn't even been to a doctor in over 2 years. He's tall and solid, never had digestive problems, never had skin problems, not a moment of reflux as a baby, never an ear infection or any known infection. Physically he is the picture of health. (we went gluten/grain-free last month and saw some improvement at first, but now not so much). He has been skin-prick tested for common food allergies--only very mild reaction to citrus, which we avoided for a year, reintroduced for a few months with unsure results, and now have removed in the last few weeks. He DID have some gluten on Saturday for the first time in 3.5 weeks, but he was fine Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday started acting 'odd' again (with weather change).
Oh, and one more (important) thing--I suffer from generalized anxiety (self-diagnosed, but kind of a 'duh') that is well managed with diet/lifestyle, but his first few months I was having severe PP anxiety and I have had it mildly on and off since. Overall I am peaceful, happy, and calm, though. Maybe not as often as I'd like for his sake, though.
Thanks for any insight! This post is years in the making, I have been too nervous to put this much out there, be gentle!!
I hear you about being an over diagnoser. I am a special education teacher so I have been on the watch for signs and symptoms since my son was in the womb. In saying that I was still somewhat shocked when our pediatrician suggested his issue and symptoms could be ADHD. My son is 5 and in Kindergarten, and youngest in the class due to birthday. I could see the hyper and extra energy part but never bothered me that much- I figured that was healthy and better than a kid who sits in front of the TV all day. To me he always had a long attention span from an early age (other adults had commented on this as well). He was early or average to do everything. He is reading and learned to read fairly fast- and same here- mental math from an early age. Turns out his attention span is not as great in a school setting as it is not always things he is interested in. He gets frustrated easily and tantrums. He does get aggressive sometimes with adults, but never other kids. He has lots of sensory issues and obsessive type things- which have gotten better with age. He plays in weird ways more so now as he has gotten older. He sorts things, makes up games with specific rules, does things repetitively, etc. He does not have social or communication issues so far I do not feel he is on the spectrum. I do think some repetitive or obsessive behavior is normal for kids and many develop a sudden fear of the dark. I am still trying to sort my son's behavior too. We began a low dose stimulant med for the ADHD and to my surprise it seemed to work. He suddenly was getting "good" stickers on his behavior chart and standing still in the line at the store. But I still see some OCD tendencies perfectionism when it comes to certain things- can't do them wrong- they have to be done perfectly or he loses it and has a meltdown. Especially school work, if he doesn't write a letter "perfectly" or color in the lines he becomes very distressed. His coloring and writing are very good and no matter how many times I tell him it is good work and things do not have to be perfect he cannot let it go. My doctor said there can be a "co morbidity" with ADHD and often OCD or ODD does go hand in hand. I was hoping the meds would address the perfectionistic stuff . It does make it better- for example, he is not having as much frustration at school and is completing his work. I see it more at home after the med wears off and he is doing homework. Have you had your son evaluated? I actually felt relieved to get a diagnosis as I always "knew" something wasn't right with my son and began driving myself crazy with the constant research and guessing and analyzing. Oh by the way my doc said ADHD is often a disorder that afflicts highly intelligent children.
Grandma, who is a teacher with master's in education and very, very experienced with and in-tune with kids, was over today carving pumpkins with DS. He was somewhat loud and a bit crazy, but mostly sat in a chair and painted a pumpkin and then tried to help her carve. He did some not listening, and some very good listening. I asked her at one point if she saw any ADD/ADHD in him and she laughed and said no, lots of smarts and a decent amount of energy, but she said he looks nothing like her ADHD kids. I know she is not an expert, but she has more experience/perpective than I do! She surely noticed the kissing/licking thing (you can't miss it) but she agrees with QueenOfTheMeadow about it likely being a quirky 4.5 year old boy thing. Either way, I know he's not the most calm, easy-going kid out there, but as usual when I go through these periods of worry, I seem to be settling back on the fact that he's somewhere under the line for actually 'having' anything--I'm very interested to see how these things look at 5 and 6. Thanks for the input ladies!!
What does an ADHD kid look like? My ds was always better behaved for Nana (better one on one in general) and apparently I didn't look like an "ADHD kid" either.
We also went through periods of worry, then periods where we accepted that ds was "all boy" -- it would have been better for everyone if we had acted on our concerns earlier. I don't know if what you described necessarily points to ADHD, but I would get on the list for an appointment with a developmental-behavioral pediatrician -- it often takes 9-12 months to get into a DBP so by the time the appointment happens he'll likely be 5 and close to starting K.
Well, obviously I don't know what ADHD looks like! But I agree with her that ADHD doesn't really suit my son. It was really OCD I was thinking of in this post, and I am definitely still watching that and I think it will come down to either he is OCD and it will show up in more places as he gets older OR this is a phase and it will taper off as he gets older. We are homeschoolers, so I am not concerned about having a diagnosis for school purposes.