So, there we were managing the best we could with the tools we had. A great deal of what we did was based on the fact that boys are still fundamentally different than girls, and that Ben is relatively young. His birthday is in September, which puts him behind the curve when compared to kids that were born in January and the rest of the first half of the year.
As the school year went on, we began to notice a few patterns start to emerge. If it was a week when my husband traveled, we could expect Ben to be much less agreeable than the weeks when the family was together. And the wiggle factor was HUGE. Days where the class had recess or gym, or days when we could get outside and play, were guaranteed to be better.
Ben still had trouble sitting in school - both in terms of sitting still as long as was required of him, and in terms of sitting properly. He has a lot of trouble sitting “criss-cross applesauce” style. So if he has to sit that way, he’s way more likely to fidget.
When the second report card came, and I met with his teacher, we were beginning to realize that Ben had more going on than just immaturity. She recommended that we start the process of getting him evaluated, so that he could start receiving therapy at school. Given my husband’s own history, we agreed. Now we could get some answers.
We made appointments and pulled Ben from school for three days at the end of May. Before that happened, my husband and I sat with the neuropsychologists ourselves, filled out paperwork and answered our own set of questions. Everything dating back to “What was your pregnancy like?” was taken into consideration.
And then Ben’s part. He sat with them for nine hours, broken up over three days. I was astonished at how well he did. Lastly, the therapist came to his class to observe him there.
Then she delivered her report.
Ben has Attention Deficit Disorder, with hyperactivity, or ADHD (depending on who you’re talking to.) He’s also extremely bright, but has a word recall delay (meaning, he has trouble thinking of a word from time to time) AND he has sensory-seeking behaviors.
Nothing surprised me. I’d suspected he had ADD all along, the other parts were interesting. And even better, now that we had names for what was going on in his head, we could start helping him.
By that point, it was summer, and we couldn’t get any help for him at school. So, I found a fantastic OT for him that we saw all summer long. Claudia was sweet, capable and helped him in so many ways. She taught him some coping strategies and gave us some tools to add to his “sensory diet.” We have a yoga ball, and a climbing bar for the apartment. My mother-in-law helped to - showing us some deep tissue massage techniques that calm him when he’s starting to go haywire.
A bit more about that climbing bar. I cannot recommend the Gorilla Gym enough. It is a chin-up bar that braces into a door frame. In addition, it has a swing, trapeze, rope ladder, set of rings and a climbing rope that all attach to it with carabiners.
One of the most effective activities for Ben is swinging. Having that tool in the apartment has been a life saver.
And that was summer.
First grade was on the horizon and things for Ben were going to change. But that, my friends, is a story for another day.