Everyone’s child is a Special Snowflake. Some, more than others.
Mine, more than most, apparently.
She was a more or less effortless baby, who grew into a chatty toddler. Then we sent her to preschool and the fun began. “Jillian is great, but… she screeches.”
We know. The child is enthusiastic about life and that used to manifest as a window-shattering screech. Lucky for all of us, there were only 6 kids in her preschool class and she was easily managed.
Then Kindergarten happened. From time to time, Jillian’s teacher would walk her down to dismissal, an apologetic look on her face. A sad look on Jillian’s face. “Jillian is great, but… she is too much.”
We know. Too much talking. Too much moving. Too much too much too much.
“She’ll grow out of it,” the doctor said. Her academic performance was fine, so we nodded and kept on.
First grade. “Jillian is great, but…”
Different doctor: “She’s completely normal, she’ll grow out of it.” You don’t think we should screen her for… ADHD, say? “No.” Okay.
Second grade. “We had to remove Jillian from the classroom today for being disruptive.”
(Second grade was not our favorite grade)
Yet Another Doctor AND TWO THERAPISTS: “She’s fine. She just needs to understand that there are consequences for her behavior. She’ll grow out of it.” Are you SURE we shouldn’t have her screened for ADHD or similar? “Not at all!” Okay.
And now… third grade. “Jillian is great, but…”
The Mama Instinct is a thing that I advise all my friends to heed. It’s there for a reason, and it is very rarely wrong. When the behavior pattern started up again this year, I decided that three doctors and two therapists were out of their minds and had Jillian tested for everything. We were referred to a Developmental Pediatric practice that would be able to take a good hard look at Jill and how she moves through the world. The intake paperwork was thirty pages long and covered everything that has ever happened to her since before birth to now.
A three-hour appointment happened, and they checked her out from head to toe and then spent some time talking with us (and – more importantly – LISTENING TO US) before they worked with her. A battery of tests later, and we have some actual concrete data with which to solve this problem.
The doctor showed us the charts for the intelligence tests he gave Jillian and then he showed us how she is literally off the high end of them. We knew that. The doctor asked us if we thought Jillian was bored in school and I nearly died out of relief. We know she’s smart, she just can’t sit still, ever.
Because: the diagnosis came back as ADHD/Combined. That’s alllllll the ADHD you can have, with extra sprinkles. I knew it. Three doctors and two therapists told me no, but I knew. I’m her mother.
I hate to put that label on her, but it fits. So many of her behaviors are so annoying but now we know that she can’t really help it. The fidgeting, the half-on, half-off the chair (which results in some spectacular falls from time to time), the singing, the constant changing of direction, the inability to focus on more than two directions at a time, etc. It’s all there.
And now we can fix it! Very soon, we shall have the full written evaluation from the doctor. Armed with that, we will get a plan in place at school that will help Jillian survive in the classroom without anyone wanting to wring her neck. I hope that she will be allowed some accommodations for this year’s round of gifted-program testing, which will [we hope] elevate her into that program where she should have been these past two years.
[We could have appealed her test scores but by the time the end of the school year rolls around, we’re all just so exhausted by her that nobody had the mental energy to even know where to begin. So.]
I’ve got a new role, too. Advocate. I am going to be spending the next little while reading everything I can get my hands on about girls with ADHD (because our Special Snowflake is ever so special – of all the kids diagnosed with ADHD, the overwhelming majority of them are boys), coming up with a list of things that her teachers can do for her in the classroom (I hope), making checklists and charts for home, and just… learning to adapt to being an ADHD parent (who maaaaay or may not have undiagnosed ADHD of her own. Let’s just say that a lot of the questions I answered on those forms felt awfully famililar). It’s going to be a busy time.