My oldest child has had behavior and developmental issues since he was about 18 months old. His doctors assured me it was just a phase and he'd outgrow it and things would get easier. I believed them only to realize that they were terribly mistaken.
A little history: I can't help but look back to try and determine the cause as to why my son may be this way. When I was pregnant I could barely eat or drink anything for the first 5 months without throwing it up. This caused me to be extremely fatigued and when I would get up I would get dizzy and one time even passed out. When my son was born he was blue but the doctor said this was normal. I was also very uneducated when I had him and believed friends and family who advised CIO was beneficial and that holding my baby too much or responding to his every cry would spoil him. When my son was about a year old, he tested a bit high on the routine lead test so his doctor referred him to Early Intervention. At the evaluation they noticed right away that my son does indeed have some developmental delays and so they diagnosed him with a speech delay and began therapy services. The therapist also noted behavior issues and tried incorporating it with the therapy but because he was so young, his therapists and doctors truly believed it was just an exaggerated terrible two's phase. When he turned 3 in-home services were no longer provided and at the next evaluation prescribed 2 30 minute-long sessions per week at a designated location about 20 minutes away from where we lived. We had no car at that time and we didn't believe these sessions would be of much benefit to our son so I used what I learned from the therapist that used to come to our home and worked with my son myself.
Fast forward: Now my son is 7 years old and in the 1st grade. He still has these delays and behavior issues and began in-school therapy and learning support towards the end of his Kindergarten year. According to the school compared to other kids his age, he is behind but progressing and in about 2 weeks we have a meeting to set up new goals on his IEP since he has passed the ones from last year. A few months ago we began outside therapy where it was brought to my attention that my son is experiencing proprioceptive sensory issues. I was surprised because I thought the school would have said something about it but after being involved with these new therapists I realized my son's school -that is supposed to be one of the best- hasn't been very helpful or informing at all. In fact, when my son seemed to be having problems with other students, I was made to believe that he was to blame when, it turns out, he was just defending himself. I lost a lot of respect for his teachers and aids but it turned into a blessing because now I know to go to my son about things like this and that I can usually trust him to tell me the truth. These new therapist have been giving me tons of information and encouraging me to try out new ideas every week. Anyways, lately my son comes home from school and everything just turns into chaos. He is fine for the most part in the morning but when he comes home he talks back to everything anyone says, is physically aggressive with his siblings and sometimes even me, and screams and cries when he doesn't get everything he wants. He had his outside therapy yesterday and for the first time someone, being his OT therapist, acknowledged my son's behavior. She said "today we had some safety issues and my heart goes out to you because I can see how his behavior can interfere with regular life activities". I could have hugged her but didn't want to weird her out. She went to say that she also believes that my son "can not control it". For some reason I felt immense relief with this and thanked her from the bottom of my heart. After we got home and the kids went to bed, I hopped in a nice warm bath and cried.
Sometimes, which is becoming more frequently, I feel like I can't do it much longer. I feel like I have been patient and instead of things getting easier, they are becoming more difficult. I love my son very, VERY much and that is what keeps me going. I feel guilty for feeling so angry and frustrated with his behavior most of the time. I feel guilty that I can take my other children for walks, to the park, to the library, and certain special event, or even just go to the store but I can't take him because he is accident-prone and puts himself in danger. I am beginning to believe that he might benefit from medication which I was strictly against since seeing the ill-effects it had on my 17 year old estranged cousin who regularly overdoses himself with his ADHD medication (my mother associates with that family regularly so that is how I know). I am trying to find a neurologist or pediatric developmental specialist to try and find a diagnosis but I fear being pressured into medication. I just want what is best for my son and to be able to do all the things I do with my other children that I currently plan around him being at school. I am also at odds with figuring out if my son is just being a 7 year old, like my great aunt says, or if that is just his personality, if he just is backed up from not being able to get the proprioceptive sensory input I am just learning about, or if he really does need help.
So what do I need help with?
-What do you wise Mothering mama's believe would be the best way to have my son evaluated; Through a neurologist, pediatric developmental specialist, or psychologist? All three have been suggested but I'd like to START somewhere. It is overwhelming.
-Are there any child-safe herbs for children that I might be able to look into before medication
-Any kind of support, advice or suggestions. I am open to anything and would be very appreciative
-Any suggestions for me on how to keep calm and reduce stress and frustration
-We are beginning deep breathing and meditation to help my son, how can I make it easier for him and enhance success
Thanks in advance!
*Cross-posted on Special Needs forum. I didn't realize I should have posted this there first. Sorry.*
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In my town, our hospital has a department called Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics so that's where I tell parents to start as far as getting a screening and possible diagnosis. I don't know what services are available in your area. One idea would be to call your county government offices and ask what services are available to diagnose special needs. Most every county has some agency that is dedicated to the service of diagnosing special needs.
Secondly, I recommend helping your son learn ways to self-calm when he feels overstimulated. I like the Positive Discipline Wheel of Choice idea for helping children learn self-calming skills. A typical seven year old can brainstorm ideas for calming down when he's feeling overwhelmed, then this of course requires lots of practice for him to remember to use one ore more of the ideas BEFORE he gets full blown overstimulated.