The Leaf

After struggling for several years with BW’s challenging personal and rigid preferences, Charles and I have reached a point where the books we’ve read, the skills we learned from BW’s preschool and seminar’s we’ve attended and the University’s child development classes mastered through hours of study in efforts to help our child have been tapped.

Our energies are exhausted and our souls are worn. After asking many, many friends and searching  for someone to provide us with some sort of conformation that we are not, in fact crazy, and that the boy does have honest to God issues, we have for the second time in his short life had the fortune of stumbling upon someone we hope can help us.

The first time we found someone who had the skills and experience to put into words all that we’d observed, lived through and tried to express, BW was nearly 4 and he was placed into a program established for developmentally challenged kids. After some progress, we were told that he was ready to ‘grade out’ to a typical kindergarten class. But even then, we noticed that many of his idiosyncrasies remained unexplored and unaddressed.

We are not ‘Tin Hats’, Charles and I. Our son, for all of his intellect, his profound thoughts and his inquisitive nature has never been a predictable or even profoundly odd child. It is for his lack of reliability in what will initiate his outbursts or odd behavior that he has not been diagnosed or given some clear direction as to how to best support him.

The issues he suffers from most greatly align with that of Asperger’s, and it is with children who have confirmed cases that he is most himself with. It is with the similar quirky children that he does not have to exhaustingly work at identifying the popular child and follow their social queues with the hope that the other children will be accepting of his being. It is with these similarly rigid children that he doesn’t have to fear the rejection and outward isolation because no matter how hard he tries, he is simply unable to break the illogical rules of emotion and social play into identifiable steps that he understands.

But, BW, while very similar to children diagnosed with Asperger’s, is not one of them. No. BW is ‘somewhere in the middle’. And as much as people whom we have met along the way and who have talked with and been impressed by BW want to help, they are limited by what little funds they have to work with, or by the limitations their program guidelines have to offer.

Our forays into the Feingold diet have been extremely helpful in tempering his outbursts, yet there is far more going on in his little body than diet alone can correct.

Children are not like machines. They cannot be broken down into parts and pieces that can be arranged into logical and researchable mechanical devices. And it is BW’s misfortune that he was programmed to think in this way, to understand only the black and white of facts and findings, of how gears and pieces fit together.

These talents will serve him well in his adult life once he makes it through the rapids of teendom, but it is the challenges of the simplest social interactions that render him sadly and frustratingly alone. Separated from the children he spent his first school years with in the sand box because they are no longer entertained by his eccentric nature or tolerant of his demands.

While his classmates glide through the social consternation of their youth BW is left behind in a world of confusion, and overwhelmed by his lack of social fluency and betrayed by his own overly sensitive nervous system. A typical day at school renders him stressed and over stimulated by the constant stream visual queues, noise of the built environment, the bright lights that are in place to help he and his classmates focus, and the roughness of his jeans or other typically fashionable clothing.

On the rare occasion when I’ve let the more raucous of my views on BW come to light on Facebook, there is always bound to be one person who stands in judgment of my humor, my brief outpouring of frustration and my unspoken begging for support. Without knowing of the conditions under which I’ve posted, they chose to admonish me and offer suggestions as to how I can be a better mother. And then they unfriend and block me because they don’t want my perceived ‘negative attitude’ in their spaces and places.

It remains to be seen if we have met and begun working with someone who is able to help BW turn a new leaf, or if we will continue to more closely analyze the current one. But one thing is for certain. It is good to know that we aren’t in fact suffering from overly active imaginations and that the boy does indeed suffer from some sort of hypersensitivity condition.

In spite of the fact that we continue to have a challenging road yet to travel and a great deal of work to be done, that simple confirmation has been far too long in coming.

Some days are certainly more challenging than ever. But there should never, ever be even the slightest doubt that BW is so very, very much loved.

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