The Unknown Begins Again
I never imagined having one special needs kid, but sometimes life throws you a curveball. Julian’s 2011 diagnosis of ADHD (combined) and autism changed our family forever.
Matthew and I did not do well for a few years after. He didn’t take the diagnosis anywhere near the way he should have and I went into a very deep depression, and I did not cope well with that.
Over time, Matthew did realize the damage he had caused to our marriage, but it was too late. I had made plans to leave him, and was 8 days from filing for divorce when Jake (the other man) died. It took a lot of thought, but I decided to stay and see what the future held for our marriage.
What happened to our marriage? Matthew didn’t listen. He blamed me for Julian’s behavior. He asked me why I wouldn’t admit I couldn’t handle him and Lily, who at one point was in early intervention for her developmental delays. He constantly criticized me. He made me feel like I was nothing. We fought constantly.
The kids heard almost all of this, which I tried like hell to prevent. He didn’t even want me to get Julian evaluated. I did anyway and he certainly didn’t like the results. I was devastated, but also relieved. I finally had something to work with.
Round Two Begins
We have always joked about Lily being a bit of a drama queen. I was a huge one as a kid, and my mom can back that up. Lily is very quick to cry and get overwhelmed. She is constantly anxious and hates changes in routine. She daydreams a lot and gets distracted super easily.
As I’m typing this, her room is a complete mess even though I told her to clean it days ago and made her a list of the steps she needs to get it done. We have tried everything I can think of to get this to be an easier task but… nope. It’s still a mess.
Lily had speech, occupational and physical delays as a baby and toddler, and we never knew why. This was called “unknown global delays”. She was born at 37 weeks and a day after a not-so-fun pregnancy. When she finished the early intervention program after two years, on her third birthday, I was told that I shouldn’t be surprised if she was a bit behind in some subjects in school.
This wasn’t completely untrue.
Lily struggled to learn to read, but she improved greatly after she read out loud daily almost everyday in first and second grade. She still does this, especially when she needs help with the bigger words. She also struggles a bit in writing. She absolutely hates math, but then, I do too. (This is one reason I picked psychology as a major- three math classes in five years, y’all.) She does seem to do well with science and social studies- in fact, she did better than both her brothers at the school’s science fair recently.
Her teachers tell me that she is a sweet girl, but does seem a bit emotionally immature for her age. I’ve already realized this.
Currently, she is seeing a therapist, and there have been small improvements. She loves her therapist, which is a good thing. However, she does get distracted when talking to him and we have to take away whatever is in her hands sometimes so she talks.
I’ve lost some sleep and time wondering if she isn’t on the autism spectrum, has ADHD or both. The stats are definitely there- if you have one kid in the family with either, there’s a good chance that another kid will have either or both. She does fit some of the criteria for both, and this worries me. I’ve asked her therapist for an evaluation for both.
For one, she’s 10. Why did I wait so long to get her to a therapist? Why did I wait so long to even think of an eval?
A Few Facts
Most girls with either ADHD or autism are diagnosed late, unless either is severe. I’ve seen this personally in my work with kids with autism. Girls with severe autism is a rarity. Boys? It’s a lot more common with this and ADHD. Boys with ADHD show their symptoms outwardly. For sheer example, Julian broke a foot and an arm before his diagnosis due to his hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Girls usually tend to be more on the inattentive side and that’s harder to see.
I’ve seen the signs in Lily, I just thought that was part of her personality.
She won’t walk to a friend’s house up the street alone, still refuses to ride a bike and stays inside a lot, preferring to color, draw, read or just play with the cats. There are kids she can play with in our neighborhood, she’s just not inclined. She does prefer younger kids or kids her age. I’ve tried to edge her outside a lot, but my efforts aren’t well absorbed.
I’ve focused a lot on Julian over the years. He requires a lot of my brainpower. Thinking about Lily has required a shift in my brain and of course, lots of guilt. Have I ignored her? This was a thought when I realized she had delays.
I wonder about my own ability to handle not one, but two special needs kids. Her therapist is fairly certain that there will be a diagnosis, but is not yet sure which one. Do I even have the ability to deal with this? Will she have to get an IEP for next year?
It’s almost March, which basically means it’s going to be next school year before anything really gets done. Will she have to take meds? Lily hates meds. She doesn’t even like taking meds when she is sick. I can’t imagine trying meds now. She’s gotten this far without them, but that doesn’t mean they won’t help.
So here goes round two. I have no idea what is next. I’m worried. I’m not sure I can do this, but I don’t have a choice but to keep moving.