Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Son Has Autism


After a long day of testing on Monday, my husband and I were told that our youngest son has autism (formerly Asperger's), ADHD and a possible mood disorder like his oldest brother. She called it “The Trifecta” because one condition is triggering the other.

It’s strange for me to type those words. Though my gut knew it to be true, it still feels weird to declare it. It gives me mixed feelings.

I admit that my first feeling is relief. I understand that my son will now have an opportunity to get the help he needs. After the appointment, I hugged my husband and cried in the waiting room. I could feel a weight being lifted off me. It felt so good. This was good news in a weird sort of way. Not that any parent wants their child to have a label, but when you’re watching your child struggle everyday, a diagnosis is the first step in turning things around. And let’s be honest, this news isn’t giving him a label for the first time, instead, it’s replacing the current label people have given him such as “brat”, “odd” or “difficult.” A label of autism may bring patience and understanding where it wasn’t before.

After the feeling of relief comes reality.

My son has autism.

And a possible mood disorder too?

What does that mean?

What will his future look like?

How will we be able to help him?

I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of worry, but there are feelings a parent needs to process whenever your child gets a diagnosis. A diagnosis that will impact their child’s entire life. Sadness is one of them. My husband and I are going through that now.

There are still feelings of anger for having been dismissed by his previous doctor over a year and a half ago, but after talking to the current doctor, she was able to explain that my son “presents well” and that can lead to a misdiagnosis. But she explained that after spending enough time with him, she could see him slip into the ASD behaviors. She also pointed out that a lot of kids higher up on the spectrum don’t get diagnosed until they are older and to a certain extent they can handle things pretty well, like in a clinical setting, until enough stressors surround them, then they completely fall apart. Forth grade was that tipping point for our son.

On a positive note, she smiled and told us how adorable, bright and funny he is. Then she told me that I should read up on “2e kids”. These are twice exceptional kids, intellectually above average, but diagnosed with one or more disabilities. She believes this describes our son. She said it’s like a coin, you have one side that has all the struggles and if you flip it over, you have something pretty special.

I can’t argue with her, he is pretty darn special.

Then I have a final feeling. And would you know it... it’s hope.

Kinda funny after I recently said I was letting go of hope. But there it is, once again floating in front of me like a pretty, shiny balloon.

I have hope that my son will be approved for services and that we’ll be able to give him the support he needs in his school and at home.

I have hope that I will have access to the support I need in order to raise my son.

I have hope that we can now make a difference.

I have hope again.

Hello, old familiar friend.












Saturday, November 1, 2014

Autism—Will they see it too?



The day is fast approaching when our youngest son has his second assessment for autism. Honestly, I’m filled with anxiety. It’s making me sick. I find myself wrestling with anger, disappointment and great concern that the second opinion will also be unproductive. I feel it in my heart and in my gut that my son has Asperger’s. Yet the first assessment didn’t see it.

What do I do with that? How can something be so true to me, yet go unseen by a professional?

My husband and I have gone through the entire DSM 5 guidelines for Autism and my son meets every criteria. This process only proved to create more frustration as we questioned how it wasn’t diagnosed the first time.

I’ve read time and time again that Asperger’s, now referred to as autism or ASD, is hard to diagnose in high functioning kids. I’ve read that they’re often misdiagnosed, or simply considered gifted, that is until years later when it becomes more apparent.

How can we avoid this wasted time? How can we get the help he needs today? How can I be sure that on Monday the doctor will see what so many others have seen. From relatives to close friends, even strangers, all have expressed their sense that my son is on the spectrum.

Just this past Sunday I spied on my son after he ran out of service 10 minutes in. I found him where I always find him, he was outside playing video games in his head. As I watched him, I saw his rhymetic pattern, jumping over invisible walls and entering into new levels in his mental “video game”. It was a ritualistic dance, one I now refer to as mental stimming. When my husband approached him my son informed my husband that he was now up to 9,312 points! He was alone, isolated from everyone and was as happy as could be. As I stood there, enjoying his dance, an elder from the church approached me. As an usher, he’s had the pleasure of watching my son play outside every Sunday. Today was the first time he spoke to me. He looked over my shoulder to where my son played and said, “Have you ever seen the TV show Parenthood?” I replied, “Yes, I love that show,” knowing full well where he was headed with his innocent question. He smiled and said, “You know the character Max, the boy with Asperger’s?” With another smile I said, “Yes,” and pointed to my son who was jumping to the next level and said, “does it look familiar?” He only smiled and gave me a look of acknowledgment before he walked away.

This by no means is an indicator that my son is on the spectrum, I have lists of behaviors, 504 plan and interviews with family and teachers to support that, however this simple exchange reminded me that there is something there that people see. It is real, whether or not the doctor sees it, it is real.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Letting Go of Hope


I’ve had an emotional week this week after facing another unexpected challenge in our life. It feels like these trials just keep coming. Sometimes it feels like we’re cursed.

I’ve lived on hope for such a long time, for years, celebrating the New Year with enthusiasm because, “This is our year when things finally get better.” Or getting through another hurdle telling myself that things will get better, “just around the corner.”

But after this recent setback, I find myself losing that hope altogether. It’s not that I’ve given up, but I think I need to move towards accepting that things may never go as I’d desired and what lies around the corner is another challenge I have to face. That the waves of trouble will keep on coming.

That realization makes me angry and sad. I’m so tired of things not going our way. I’m struggling with jealousy as I watch others move so gracefully through life. Seeing videos and photos of other families is painful, why can’t things be like that for us?

My boys are growing and changing so much and it feels like it’s happening faster than I’d anticipated. I think a part of me had always hoped that our life would finally achieve that balance and that we’d experience a period of peace instead of feeling like we’re, “hanging on for life,” all the time. This latest blow, makes me face the fact that my children may grow through their entire childhood with this weight over us. That we may never achieve that place of peace.

With that comes a feeling of being a failure as a mother. I didn’t get to nurture my boys the way I wanted to. I didn’t help them grow spiritually the way I’d wished to. I didn’t have enough fun with them the way I desired to. It feels like there were so many obstacles in our life that I didn’t get to be the mom I wanted to be.

At the same time, I realize that if I continue to sulk and complain about feeling cheated, I’ll miss this precious time left with my boys. That if I’m not careful, I will miss all the good surrounding me. I don’t want to look back on these years of raising my boys with regret because I didn’t appreciate all that I did have.

So with that realization, I’m working towards a new resolution of letting go of hope and trying to embrace what I’m blessed with.

Because I really do have it good.




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Our First Suspension


Our youngest son received his first suspension this week. It wasn’t a surprise since he’s had 3 days in a row of escalating behavior at school, spending at least half the day in the office each day. On one occasion, I was told to pick him up early since he was already in the office three times.

His suspension was a result of his explosive behavior in the classroom. He got frustrated over his math work, combine that with his embarrassment over the class laughing at a word problem that he thought was making fun of him. “He instantly went from 0-60!”, said the teacher, as he described him ripping up his assignment, throwing his books, shoving his desk across the room and hitting two kids after being removed from the class.

It was noticeable that these tough days at school where taking its toll. Everyday after school he would make himself feel better by taking two long baths. It was pretty effective, he would come out completely refreshed and ready to take on his homework.

In order to avoid rewarding him with a home suspension, which is what he would prefer, he served his suspension in the office all day.

It was interesting to see that after his day long suspension, he was great. As the principal reported, “He did fabulously today. He completed all of the work he was given before the end of the school day.” My son shared that he loved the office since it was nice and quiet. It’s obvious to me that the classroom is overwhelming him, leading him to these outbursts. Once we removed the sensory minefield, he did great and he didn’t take a single bath when we got home.

This school challenge is new territory for me. It’s pretty much the opposite of my oldest son who kept it together all day at school, then exploded at home. With my youngest, the worst is happening at school.

Homeschooling is definitely worth exploring.

As for good news, I’m pleased to share that a state agency for autism in my area has reviewed my son’s case and has decided to accept him into their clinic to conduct a second opinion assessment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

I’m so thankful to hear this news, especially since they told me that they don’t typically do second assessments with the exception of rare cases. They also said that they’ll be reviewing every documented I provide and will be including it into their assessment. Which is such a relief since our first medical team didn’t review any of this information that documents first hand accounts from family, relatives, teachers etc. As well as the list of behaviors and symptoms we’ve seen over the years. I feel like this is our only hope at this point.

I still realize that my son may be too high functioning to make it on the spectrum, but I’m hoping that the end result will be help, regardless of the diagnosis.

Along with my thankfulness comes anger.

Last night I was feeling a lot of anger over this whole process. When my husband and I reviewed the current DSM for ASD, it seemed to fit my son in every category. He’s definitely mild on the spectrum compared to others, but it’s having a major impact on his life. The principal has already explained how the kids are scared of my son. He’s socially isolated and he’s scaring the kids with his outbursts. The principal explained that if he had a diagnosis, he could teach the other kids about it and help them understand.

Another reason why labels matter.

I’m disappointed that the first doctor that performed the assessment didn’t take into account his history of behaviors. I later learned that this is part of the new DSM, doctors are suppose to use any past behaviors as qualifying behaviors for a diagnosis. Unfortunately in our case, the doctor used only what he saw at the time of the evaluation.

It makes me feel like we’ve wasted a year.

And my boy is now suffering because of it.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Still Looks Like Asperger’s



My youngest son continues to struggle with growing anxiety, but I keep circling back to another feature.

Asperger’s.

I know that the first assessment done a year ago concluded that he wasn’t on the spectrum, but the admission of the evaluator not reading the notes we gave him on current and past behaviors, leaves me with so many doubtful questions.

It’s my understanding that under the new DSM-5 that for the first time, doctors will be allowed to consider a patient’s history instead of only the behaviors present at the time of evaluation. Our doctor chose not to do this, but only evaluated our happy-to-participate child. You see, my son was thrilled to be taken out of school for the assessment because he hates school so much, so he was engaged and willing in every test.

What the doctor didn’t see was my son pushing furniture around when becoming frustrated like he does at school and isolating himself, instead he was engaged.

Did this skew his evaluation?

I tried to share many of the behaviors we’ve witnessed over the years, but he dismissed them all. He even dismissed the school psychologist’s assessment that according to a neurologist we saw was screaming, “Your son is autistic”.

Here is one example:
I explained how our son hates toys and only wants to play with video games and talks in long monotone monologs about the game Minecraft.

The doctor’s response was, “We do not take into account ‘electronics’ as a child’s restrictive play.”

However, just tonight my son talked to my husband and I for over an hour about the history of video games. He showed us a chart he made diagramming all video game consoles dating back to 1973! He described in great detail the success and failures of the gaming systems, naming game developers dating back to the 1980s, such as Namco and Kaname. I haven’t even heard of these companies! He was able to provide interesting facts, such as how the sound production of Pac Man changed from the arcade game to the home system and how the home system had very painful game sound effects that failed to match the original arcade game, and as he described, “disappointing users”. This is a game that he’s never experienced first hand, but learned about on his own through online research. He also went into great detail about different gaming controllers and the difference of 1-bit and 32-bit visual graphics over the years. His lecture didn’t stop there, he even pulled up old commercials on YouTube dating back to 1985 showing me the original console advertisements. This all from a 9 year old boy!

How is this any different than a boy with Asperger’s who knows the history of horse racing. Does the fact that it’s electronics really make a difference in an assessment for ASD?

His voice was monotone and uniquely formal at times. He said, “Come again?” when needing me to repeat a question and acknowledged our leading questions by saying, “Ahhh, I see where you are going with this.” This is definitely unique language to our family and seems older than his age.

Our oldest son shared that our youngest sounded like he was giving a lecture to a class when he talks. He added, “He always sounds like that.”

This conversation was a special experience for my husband and I, we were stepping into his world and he was happy to share it with us. Compare that to earlier in the day when he told me that my questions about his day at school were annoying since they were a waste of his time.

Combine that with him spending recess alone everyday at school playing video games inside his head, not wanting to play with the other kids.

I can’t for the life of me see how this example doesn’t qualify as a restricted interest seen on the spectrum that’s affecting his social skills.

And for that matter, all the other features we’re seeing in his behavior.

Why does it matter?

Well considering that I had to pick him up early from school this week after he was acting out and refusing to participate and that his psychiatrist wants to double his dose of Prozac, I need to know what the underlining cause is of his challenges so that I can take the best course of action to help him.

This is why labels matter.

It points me in the right direction towards helping my little man.

So I’m going to seek another assessment.







Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Creating a 504 Once Again



My youngest continues to struggle in school.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to help him. So I’m starting with a 504 plan.

This week he was sent to the office to calm down after acting out in class. It was during the spelling test, he was putting his feet on his desk and refusing to participate. He told his teacher, “I hate school!”

I know for a fact that the spelling words weren’t an issue for him, I tested him the night before and he got them all correct, but still he didn’t want to participate in class.

When I asked him about it he told me that he was frustrated because they already had a spelling test on Monday. It was their pre-test. So in his mind, he had already completed the test.

He sometimes tells me that he hates school since it’s a waste of his time.

“It feels like a prison.”

When I asked him about recess he tells me that he plays by himself a lot. He tells me he’s playing video games inside his head. When I asked him if he would rather play with the other kids, he shrugs it off saying, “No mom, I’m fine, I need my alone time.”

I have a feeling his struggles are going to continue in the years ahead so I think it’s time to get an official 504 plan in place.

Thankfully his new principal agrees, telling me that to him it looks like my son has Aspergers. He also said that regardless of his diagnosis, he’s willing to give him whatever support he needs. I have to say, I’m loving this new principal!

Wish me luck.

* * *

This week I read two great articles I wanted to share with you, check them out!

Jordana Steinberg: ‘A story of overcoming’ mental illness
http://www.sacbee.com/static/sinclair/jordana/index.html

This article is about a girl who goes public with her diagnosis of bipolar disorder. It shares the tough journey through childhood from both the parent’s perspective and her own. It was heart wrenching at times as I read words that struck very close to home. It’s also interesting that the girl’s father is Senator Steinberg who was already fighting for mental health reform before he even knew that he had mental illness in his own family. Her description of her feelings of anger are remarkably close to what my son has shared and the mother’s words felt like my own. This article is worth your time!


“I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” writer Liza Long: I’m not scared of my son anymorehttp://www.salon.com/2014/09/02/i_am_adam_lanzas_mother_writer_liza_long_im_not_scared_of_my_son_anymore/

This article is a follow up to the recent one I posted. I found it interesting that through her public exposure, they were able to get a diagnosis for her son, bipolar disorder. Since then, he was placed on Lithium and has been doing great. His mother no longer fears him.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Mother Shouldn't Have to Choose


From my very first blog post almost 5 years ago, I’ve carried a fear that there’ll be repercussions for writing about my son who has a mental illness. The last thing I ever wanted to do is harm my son or my family. To avoid this, I take steps to protect his identity and act cautiously when communicating with so many of you through email. I would love to post pics to show how my son is thriving, use my real name when communicating to other hurting parents, or respond to national news reporters, but I can’t take the risk of exposing my son.

So you can imagine my interest when I read Liza Long’s original story, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother”, a post that went viral after the Newtown tragedy. I was impressed with her openness and so very thankful, yet I understood the risk she was taking. Which made her post all the more powerful.

Today she has written another post that exposes not her name, but her consequence for going public about her child’s mental illness.

In her recent article she wrote:
“And so my 750 words became an accidental but powerful manifesto for children’s mental health. In retrospect, I think that one of the things that resonated most strongly with parents in similar situations was the raw emotion in the piece. That’s because I, as the writer, was revealing truths to myself that I had been unwilling or unable to face. My first audience was myself.
So for me, and for many other parents, this is what “normal” looks like. People said that I was brave for telling my story. I did not feel brave; I felt helpless.”
I can relate to Long’s words. When I write to you, I write in a desperate place of feeling helpless. I’m a mom anxiously seeking answers for my child who’s suffering a terrible illness. Looking back, my blog has thankfully been a helpful tool for my son’s stability. I’ve been able to receive encouragement, direction, feedback and so much more from a community of parents who would otherwise be invisible to me.

So having experienced the benefits of sharing my child’s illness publicly, I was outraged to read that Long is now facing the consequences of her openness.

She’s being forced to choose between caring for her sick child or her healthy children.

This is a decision that no mother should EVER have to make.

Would a mother writing about her child’s cancer have to later choose between her children? Why is it any different for Long’s children because her child has a brain illness.

Some of you would argue that it’s for the safety of the siblings, but with the right support and medical care this doesn’t have to be an issue.

Long points out a very important reality:
“Families are afraid to speak up about or ask for help for their sick children, for the very real fear that they will lose their healthy ones, either to another parent (as in my case) or to the state.”
I admit, I was fearful of this in the beginning. I remember sharing with my husband that I was concerned about what I should reveal to the therapist at our son’s initial evaluation for fear that something I would say would bring harm to my other children. It felt a little like walking through a land mind. Would I say something that would make my entire family explode?

The stigma of mental illness is hurting not only those suffering, but the family that’s trying to help.

This has to stop.

If society is so scared of our kids, scared of what they can do to others, they need to pull us off the floor and onto our feet and surround us with support and resources. NOT force us back into a closet of isolation.

People need to know that kids get better when parents can ask questions, seek support and receive care publicly.

Research has proven that children surrounded by love and support have very positive outcomes. If we want to prevent the next tragedy, we need to embrace these families and support them, not tear them apart and ignite fear, forcing them to once again remain silent and helpless.

What is happening to Liza Long will only bring more harm to us all.

Out of fear of losing our other children, mothers will stop taking.

And sick children will not get the care they need.

God help us all.


* * *

I highly recommend you read, The Origins -- And the Price -- of My Accidental Manifesto for Children’s Mental Healtha Huff Post article written by Liza Long, the same writer who wrote, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” a blog post that went viral after the Newtown tragedy.

* * *

The Origins -- And the Price -- 
of My Accidental Manifesto for Children's Mental Health
Huff Post
By Liza Long
Posted: 09/04/2014 9:56 am EDT

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Retiring Baby


It’s the night before the first day of school. Everyone is in good spirits, some more excited than others, but it’s good enough. My youngest sat in bed, cuddling his little blue bear, “Baby”. I smiled as I remembered the first time I gave him that bear. He was a small guy, maybe 3 years old. He was going to bed and experiencing his typical nighttime anxiety, not wanting me to leave the room until he was fast asleep. I sat at the edge of his bed and picked up the little blue bear and put it into his arms. He quickly cuddled it. I told him that he needed to be brave to take care of “his” baby. From that day on, “Baby” became part of the family.

As a mom of three boys, this teddy bear was uniquely special. None of my other boys owned a special doll or stuffed animal. It never crossed my mind that all kids didn’t do this, that is until I had all boys.

I remember the panic I felt when we first lost Baby. I thought he dropped him in a craft store while I pushed him and Baby around in the cart. But later that night, I was so relieved to find him safely tucked at the bottom of a closet. I think I cried I was so happy. This bear had become such a precious symbol of my youngest son’s childhood. It had become a treasure.

Fast forward to the night before school this week when my youngest calmly got out of his bed and carried Baby to the closet. Next, he reached up onto his tippy toes and placed Baby on the top shelf of his closet. Then he walked back to his bed, announcing that he was now retiring Baby since he was going into the 4th grade.

And just like that, the little blue bear was put back onto the shelf. He was dirty and worn at the edges, but he represented a job well done, helping my little one feel safe at night for all those years.

My husband heard of this big announcement and declared that we needed a special ceremony to properly retire Baby, so he pulled the little blue bear back down and asked us all to place a hand on him as he spoke sweet words. All the boys giggled at the silly ritual, but I couldn’t help but cry.

My little one was growing up.

I too, no longer had my baby.


* * *





Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer Bipolar Cycles



Summer is coming to an end. Thankfully the boys did better than expected. I have to say it’s been our best summer yet, especially for my oldest. But we still experienced some highs and lows in what appeared to be bipolar cycling over a period of about 1 week.

It all started when my oldest son woke up in a really great mood. He was so happy about his latest computer interest. He talked excitedly about it, following me around the house, chatting up a storm.

That should have been my first clue.

My oldest isn’t usually this “up”. At one point, he didn’t even skip a beat when I closed the door in front of him to go to the bathroom. He continued on in a very excited tone telling me about all his incredible ideas. Throughout the day he continued to update me about his project like an excited child on Christmas morning.

Then day two started with a big shift.

Hello irritability.

My oldest became very argumentative and was irritated by everything we did. As his mood progressed down this path, I started to see old behaviors. Blaming others, initiating fights, threatening us. It was sadly familiar from his younger days that often ended with rages. As I tried to navigate his behaviors, I kept reminding him that this wasn’t him, but his moods being off. Understandably for him, none of that mattered since it felt real. Mood or no mood illness, he was in a mood to fight.

As the day progressed, I tried to help him identify his feelings as they related to his actions. In a calmer moment, he clarified that, “Everything and everyone is bothering me!”

His mood continued for a handful of days. Thankfully he never escalated into a rage. But after a few days we had a light bulb moment.

My son’s sleep patterns had changed during this time. Instead of sleeping in as he normally did all summer, to our surprise, he was waking up early every day because he no longer felt tired. It even surprised himself.

He was cycling.

Once it dawned on us, it put everything into perspective.

He went from a stable, easy going kid who slept in, to a kid who woke up early every morning and cycled between being too happy, to being very miserable.

It really helped once my husband explained this to my son. I think for the first time my son could see proof of his illness outside of his moods. “It’s all connected Mom! I’ve been getting up early every day that my mood has been bad.”

And just like clockwork, the very first day my son slept in, the planets aligned and I had my son back to normal and he’s been doing great ever since.

Even my son recognized the difference when he shared, “I’m feeling better today, my brother was leaning on me and it didn’t even bother me!”

It made me think of all those years and all those rages so long ago.

He was cycling then. 

It was harder to tell since I saw very little stability to know what “normal” looks like for him, but seeing this recent cycle and the return of old behaviors in such contrast to what we have come to now know as “normal,” has validated for me our decision to medicate.

You may laugh and think, “Validation? You still need that?”

Unfortunately yes. I don’t think I’ll ever stop asking the question, “are we doing the right thing?”

But tonight I can rest in peace knowing that, yes, we are doing the right thing for our son.




Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Lithium 3 Years Later—Life is Good.



I’m sitting at a small, wooden desk, nestled into the corner of a beach house with an ocean view. A cool breeze drifts through my window smelling sweet like honeysuckle. Sunlight is dropping into the meadow creating an orange glow in the tall grass surrounding the house. In the distance I can see a mother deer tending to her babies, keeping watch as they nibble on the golden grass. I can’t complain about anything, life is really good right now.

We are 6 days into our week long vacation. I’ve been present, basking in the love of my family. Are things finally perfect? Nah, we still have the occasional meltdown from our youngest who’s easily overwhelmed and our boys still have a gift for finding the other’s weak spot, but considering our journey, life is pretty darn perfect right now.

The month of July marks the 3rd anniversary of our oldest son being on Lithium. Some of you have asked if we’re still seeing the benefits. I’m happy to share that we are. Our oldest continues to thrive in so many areas of his life and he contributes his success to Lithium. While packing for this very vacation our youngest had a friend over and I warned my oldest about the consequences of messing with his brother’s guests and my oldest quickly reminded me, “Don’t worry mom, I won’t do that, remember the last time that happened I wasn’t on my medication.”

He’s right, I don’t need to worry so much anymore. My oldest, now 13 years old (and taller than me) is getting so much more self control now that puberty is settling in, maturity has been a big helper. Sometimes I wonder if he still needs all his medication, then I’m reminded that he does when I see a small crack in his stability. Recently I experienced this when we were in line at a Starbucks. While waiting for a snack, his blood sugar was dropping and he started to have rapid mood changes. He started crying with tears running down his cheeks and seconds later he dropped his head back with uncontrollable laughter. All while strangers looked on. I haven’t seen these mood changes in years, so it surprised us both to say the least. Once he ate and his blood sugar stabilized, he was back to normal. Like I say, we only see small cracks.

My oldest finished his 7th grade year with honors. But that wasn’t his only success. He also did a class presentation all on his own, in front of his peers (a major victory) and socially he has grown too. He has a girlfriend. You might be surprised that I find this to be a good thing. It’s really helped with his self confidence and self esteem. It’s also exposed him to a bigger group of friends, opening up his world a little and giving him the confidence to go to events such as school dances. Their relationship is very innocent, which makes me happy, but I can see how much he has blossomed because of it. He seems to stand a little taller and feels like he fits in more at school. Years of living with a mood disorder can destroy a persons self esteem, but having a girl tell you that she likes you and knowing that she will stand by your side at school goes a long way in allowing him to see that he has value in this world and it’s more than just his mom who thinks so. Don’t we all need that?

Puberty has infected more than just one boy in my house. My middle son, at 11 years old, is already going through puberty and the changes are even more dramatic. Suddenly girls have become the most important thing in his life and the social circles just took on more importance. Gone is the sweet boy and inward comes a young man flexing his muscles and making sure he has on the best looking outfit as he rides by the house of the girl he loves. And texting, well let’s just say that it’s become his first line of communication. Oh man, my boys are changing so fast. I feel like I can’t keep up!

My youngest is doing pretty good. We’re still working on his emotion control. He tends to scream at a drop of a hat and his anxiety is strong too. We’re also trying to work on his social skills, helping him communicate better and we’ve reduced his electronic time to force him into the real world. Ironically, taking away his electronics hasn’t always stopped him from disconnecting from others. Just the other day I found him lying flat on his back on the couch with his eyes closed. When I asked him if he was ok he said, “Yep, I’m just paying a video game inside my head.” I wish I could say that this was the first time that this has happened.

While sitting on the beach earlier today, I watched my middle son fearlessly dive into the crashing waves and swim into deeper waters with confidence. Trailing behind I watched my oldest who’s always more cautious and my youngest whose anxieties keep him from trying new things, slowly inch further into the deeper water. Both keeping their eye on their middle brother. If middle brother was safe in the ocean, they too would be. I watched as my middle son recognized their timidness and joyfully called out to them to join him. They trusted him and followed.

In that moment I recognized that my boys are not on this journey alone. Beyond my husband and I, their middle brother is helping, along with their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, their teachers, their friends and even their girlfriends. They are surrounded by people who love them, who are helping to lead the way, no matter how deep the waters get. 











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