Earlier this month, our oldest visited with a psychologist that has diagnosed him with ADHD-Combined Type and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a type of autism spectrum disorder. Like a lot, if not all parents, we have balked at the notion that there is some sort of medically inclined answer to why our son acts out, pinches, attempts to bite, kicks, and screams. He is three, almost four, and a boy. What more do you need than that. The psychologist than suggested that we find a pediatrician that would prescribe a child under five Zoloft. Really?!?!?!
We have talked with so many other parents and professionals (without their professional hats on), and all have said the same thing: “You’re son is not cut out to be a cookie cutter child.” What does it mean to be cookie cutter? We have two other boys that attend the same daycare, starting in the infant room where Lion started in the two’s and three’s. He was an only child for nearly two years, we didn’t take him to the park every day so he could learn certain social-emotional skills, and we never thought that we would have to teach him some things until he became older, like kindergarten age.
Lion was able to spend time with a friend of mine who studied music therapy. Really, I don’t know where I would be without her guidance now; as well as the guidance of the other mom’s I meet with once a week (when I think about this, I think about how I have become one of those moms that I always made fun of. Karma is hilarious!). It is never “you’re doing this absolutely wrong!” It’s been refreshing to listen to other mom’s who are super sweet and make suggestions that are helpful, and lots of encouragement along the way. My friend saw things we had never seen before and asked me questions. I asked my husband and we realized we didn’t know our son at all.
My friend introduced us to whole new world of parenting, one she said even she balked at when she first heard about it. When she first told me about positive discipline, images of hippies letting their kids do whatever they want and not actually learning from their mistakes ran through my mind. I mean really, how does an oxymoron attempt help our child? At that point though, I was willing to try anything.
I learned a lot from the books she let me borrow. I found out what kind of parent I am. I grew up military, very strict and very religious. I knew only one way to live and one way to discipline. A parent is a parent and they are the authority of authority in the life of a child. There are so many things wrong with these last three sentences.
The two weeks our son was not at the daycare center was refreshing for all of us and an eye-opener for my husband and I. We learned a lot about our son that we never really paid attention to. You’re not a bad parent when you don’t see these things. It just means you need to slow down and take a breath, which is what we had to do. Our lives have been so caught up in work, school, and home routines that we felt more like the disciplinarians and not the parents. We were being the teachers without being the friend. As much as we heard it when we were younger, the parent does need to be a friend to their child. We are our kids first friends. In a way, it feels like maybe we lost sight of what it meant to see the world from a preschoolers view and only saw the world from our own two eyes.
Positive discipline was just the first step that has changed our lives and our way of parenting. There were still issues that we needed to iron out. There was only so much we could do before it felt like positive discipline wasn’t working. I continued to read more and more about Lion’s diagnosis and realized that he just isn’t there with either one of them. There were so many other issues listed that Lion did not have that I wondered how the psychologist was able to come to the conclusion he had. So I turned to my friends on Facebook. There had to be someone who had an idea, even a thought about what else we could try.
A friend told me about Nutrition Deficit Disorder. This was coined by Dr. Sears and is misdiagnosed as ADHD. What the heck. We haven’t tried it yet and haven’t been told too much about food factors, except you are what you eat. I did some minor research, told my husband what I found and he said we would check it out. Lion’s first day back at school, the 14th of October, was the first day of complete change! By Wednesday the staff at the center was asking me what we did that made Lion turn a complete 180.
We had noticed the difference and was so thrilled to hear their remarks. Thursday was a different story as we had gone back to an old routine. However Friday was a repeat of the days earlier in the week since we corrected our mistake. We will be making an appointment with the pediatrician to see if there is a test for protein deficiency. We made several changes to our diet as well as our home.
My husband realized we were all burnt out on the extreme change we made earlier this year: moving from a two-story, four bedroom home to a single floor two bedroom apartment. He rearranged our room and the living room. Lion was amazed at the change and he and Frog were loving helping daddy make the changes. We found several cookbooks on eating for autism spectrum disorders and ADHD. Unfortunately all of them suggest changing to a gluten-free lifestyle.
This has been a tough decision for us. Reading about what wheat may do to the nervous system still hasn’t been enough of a push for us. We’ve cut back on the grains and have added more vegetables and proteins to our diet. Our problem with going gluten-free is none of us, even Lion, is allergic. He hasn’t even shown any symptoms to having an intolerance to gluten. Our biggest fear is we take away the gluten, then what? He’s missing several of those key nutrients found in gluten based foods. A vitamin is no help as it only supplements and does not replace what’s missing. Because he’s not allergic or have an intolerance, we can’t see making the change to something that may harm him.
We have heard from some people who have said how they feel great since making the change. My only problem is these are all adults. As adults we can handle the change as we realize what’s going on. Children don’t know what’s going on and they are easily confused. That time period between change and the body evening out to the change can be a long stretch for a preschooler.
Without going gluten-free, only making changes to Lion’s regular diet, we have noticed a significant change in his behavior. It has been absolutely amazing! Short of changing our diet to gluten-free, we have seen remarkable change.
The point to this is: don’t be quick to accept a doctor’s diagnosis, no matter what their practice. Question it and find answers yourself if you don’t agree with the diagnosis. Get another opinion. Join a support group. Be around other parents who have share the same as you do. Having an exceptional child is not the end of the world. Learning how to become a different, better, and new parent is an adventure all on its own that requires patience and guidance.