Perplexed Mom

by Crystal
(Northern CA)

I have a question. My son is 9. He has been home schooled all his life and we are just now seeing some major difficulties with him. He is starting the 4th grade and is having difficulty transitioning to a more rigorous school routine.


I noticed very early on that he needed a lot more movement, coaxing, goal incentives, and just plain patience than did his older brothers or younger sisters. In the home school environment he could build with Legos or hold hot wheels while doing his reading and phonics orally with no problems. Now math is harder and though we use a manipulative based program he is all over the place. Today we did one math problem multiple times in 3 different ways and he just stared at me with a puzzled face. I asked him which way made more sense and he said none! He is great with me but has a very difficult time submitting to any other authority ie. baby sitter, enrichment teacher/ tutor etc. He is very lively and funny, incredibly creative and bright. His standardized test scores showed him way below basic and even with no correct answers in several language and math areas.

I think the oddest thing that I have been trying to figure out for years is that he rocks himself at night. Sometimes he is actually asleep rocking against a pillow propped up on the wall. Other times he is in a half wake sleep type state. He has done this since he could sit up. The pediatrician said he would grow out of it. It still happens although less frequently than it used too. He also is very loving and clingy. Sometimes he hugs so long and hard that I think he would climb inside me if he could get there. He takes forever to do the most simple things like tying his shoes. Certain things have to be Just So... the laces tight and tucked in so that they don't dangle at all. Clothing is often an issue for no discernible reason. He will wear one pair of pants over and over until I have to pull them off him to wash them and then they go right back on when they are clean.

His moods change very rapidly. He can go from a total pity party fit to laughing and giggling over some silly expression or word in and instant. The other day we received some terrible news about a friend of my 11 year old. The boy was in the hospital, had an emergency surgery to remove his appendix and then had a stroke and was being air lifted to the nearest major medical center. My 9 year old started laughing at the news. I was sure it was because he did not know how to handle the emotions he was feeling, but his brother was so angry that he would laugh at such a thing. I really want to help him and I have a hard time identifying where or how. He is amazing and so sensitive and I hate to see him misjudged for something he cannot seem to help.

Although I have been seeing many of these things for a long while, I was assured he would outgrow them and with maturity would be just fine. Now I am not so sure. I had never heard of anything that fit so many of the the oddities we have experienced with him. Where do I start?

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Feb 02, 2009
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I understand what you are going through!
by: Sheila

Hi, I am mom to two wonderful children, ages 10 and 11. My 10 year old son had symptoms of sensory problems that showed up from the age of two when he began feeding himself and didn't like to touch his lips to spoon. He is really sweet, but still has separation anxiety. If we spends the night with a friend, we usually have to go and pick him up during the night. He started out in private school and we had a really difficult time getting him to stay. I'm home schooling him now and he does better with one on one instruction.

I would advise you to talk to your doctor about being referred to a good pediatric neurologist. The obsession with clothes sounds similar to my child who obsesses about lots of things, but it could be something similar to OCD and less complicated. It's a good ideal to make notes of everything you want to talk to your doctor about before you go.

Once you know what is going on, things will get better. Trust me, it's not knowing and understanding that makes things worse. You will learn to work with him to help him learn to cope with whatever issues he has.

Sep 11, 2008
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Get him evaluated
by: Jessi

If I were you, I would start making appointments to get him evaluated. I'd get him to an occupational therapist to be evaluated for SPD (definitely sounds like he could have it); also, with him scoring low on standardized tests, I'd take him to a developmental pediatrician. I took my son when he was three and she got us into speech and occupational therapy. Also, if he's having trouble in school, they should run there own tests and get him help if he needs it. I can imagine that it is hard to adjust to school after home schooling, but from what you've noticed his whole life, that's not the only thing going on.

I understand how it can hurt a mother's heart to know that there are people out there who don't see how wonderful your son is because they can't get past his 'quirks'. My poor baby just used to scream the whole time we were in a store and I got so many 'bad mother' or 'bad kid' looks that it was depressing! I KNEW he wasn't bad - he's one of the most cuddly and loving kids I've ever met. It sounds like your son is the same way. Definitely look into getting him some help - wherever you can get it, it will improve both of your lives.

Lucky me, I came across SPD on the internet when my son was around 3 and that's when we went to the dev. pediatrician. He started OT and speech therapy soon after. Now he's 4 and has been in therapy for almost a year...it is indescribable the difference it has made in both of our lives. Of course, he still has his days when he's just 'off'. But he is more and more accepted by other kids (and adults) as time goes on. He's happier and so am I. Our lives are SO much less stressful. You sound like a wonderful mother and I'm sure you'll do anything you can to help your son. Good Luck!

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