And Now We Know

Some of y’all who have been following this blog over the past few years know that our parenting experience with Baby Girl has been challenging in ways. We kept waiting for her to outgrow certain behaviors (I can’t tell you how many times we were told it was all a phase), but that never happened. At the end of last year, BG’s pediatrician referred her to a specialist. We saw a family PA prior, and she always brushed us off about BG’s issues. The pediatrician found the behaviors alarming, so she referred her to a specialist and also got the ball rolling to start speech therapy and occupational therapy. The specialist didn’t seem very concerned about the meltdowns, though, and thought she has ADHD. The appointment was very short, though, and when LM was diagnosed with ADHD, his doctor took several appointments to come to that.

We decided to get a second opinion. We wanted to meet up with the folks from her school before summer ends with a better idea of what was going on so we could all be on the same page and develop a game plan.  We expressed our concerns with the new doctor in the initial appointment, and he said he wanted to do a thorough evaluation to look at different possibilities for what was going on with her, but that he was primarily concerned about autism. 

Over the past couple of months, BG saw the psychologist several times, we did a shit ton of questionnaires, and he talked to her preschool teacher. On Friday, we got the results. First, he agreed with the other specialist and said she does have ADHD. He came to that conclusion after spending more than 10-15 minutes with her (which is what the other specialist did, sigh), so we were comfortable with that. Next, he said that she also has high functioning autism. He spent about an hour going over the tests and stuff and showed us how everything supports his diagnosis. The doctor said that it can be tough to diagnose in gifted younger girls, but that she was a textbook case of a little kid with HFA.

I was surprised. I knew autism was a possibility, of course, but still didn’t expect it. And I was flabbergasted at first on how she would be considered a textbook case. She can be very outgoing and chatty when she wants to be, she can be very charming, she doesn’t stim (or so I thought), she made a couple of friends at preschool last year, and she isn’t terrible with making eye contact. She has such a feisty and mischievous little personality, too. BG just has a real spark to her.

Granted, there are “buts” to some of those things. Like, she can be outgoing and chatty, BUT it’s usually her talking on and on about the stuff she’s into. And with her friends, she told me how she doesn’t play with them at the same time, but switches up depending on who will do what she wants. As far as eye contact goes, sometimes she does okay and sometimes she doesn’t make it at all. Like last week when she and I met with her teacher, BG talked excitedly about her birthday for a few minutes, and then wouldn’t make eye contact with her teacher at all, would barely speak outside of “yes” or “no” questions, and talked in the flattest voice ever. It was like someone flipped a light switch. She can be in her own little world a lot, though, so it’s hard to say that when she doesn’t make eye contact (or doesn’t maintain it well) that it’s because of a specific reason.

Aside from not having any of the severe behavioral issues that BG has, LM seemed to be a better fit for that when he was tested around age 7 or 8. My husband, on the other hand, later told me he wasn’t surprised at all and said he knew she had autism, that it’s obvious, and it was just a matter of getting it diagnosed. I don’t remember him ever saying that before, but okay. He also pointed out that LM was also chatty and charming when he was younger, which I guess I had forgotten since he is now a moody tween. At his theater camp, he wouldn’t even sit with the other kids…he wanted to sit by himself and look at his Pokemon cards. I asked why and he said, “None of those kids will be in my class next year, so why should I try to be friendly with them when it doesn’t matter?” As an introvert, I can relate so hard, but as a mom, c’mon, kid!

When I brought up that non-textbook stuff with the doctor, he reminded me that it’s a spectrum disorder and that girls with it present differently from boys. Being outgoing can be normal, he said she does stim (but it isn’t obvious like hand flapping would be, but he considers the nail biting, skin picking, and licking stuff to be stimming). He also said girls like her are excellent as masking and can come off as being “normal,” which is part of why it can be tough to diagnose.

All righty, then.

This has been quite a year for her. She was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder this year, she has been in speech and occupational therapy all year, and now this. It has been a lot, but I am SO glad we are figuring things out and getting her help. She’ll also start therapies for social skills and helping her learn to cope better (thereby reducing the meltdowns, I hope). The doctor said doing diagnosing her early and adding in those extra therapies now will make a world of difference down the road.

And, oh…remember how BG often acts like she can spell or read a lot? She didn’t hold back for the doctor, who said she tested as reading on a second grade level.

Yeah.

This is long enough, but I have a lot more to say — especially regarding the stuff the diagnosis explains the hell out of — so I’ll tackle that in the coming days/weeks.

We Have A 5-Year-Old

Our weekend was a busy one since our sweet girl had her birthday! She’s five now, which she is equal parts thrilled and angry over. Thrilled because, “I’m five and have been wanting to be five my whole life” and angry because “I’m not a baby anymore and want to stay four forever.” She cracks me up.

She had her preschool party last month since we hoped having it early would ensure most of her classmates would come. (It did not, sigh.) And we had her family party on Saturday and spent Sunday just the four of us. Usually I make a special birthday breakfast, but she wanted to go for McDonald’s for breakfast, so that’s what we did. And her special birthday dinner was a grilled cheese sandwich. She was easy to please at least.

We went to see Toy Story 4 yesterday, too, and I cried more than I did over Toy Story 3. (But not as much as Endgame, which is the most I’ve cried over any movie ever.) I won’t give away any spoilers, but despite the crying, it was probably the worst of the series. And by “worst,” I mean it was really good, but probably only a B+ compared to the A or A+ the other movies are.

We got the girl a few birthday presents, and her favorite was a uterus/ovary plush. She has been obsessed with body organs lately and requested a bunch of different plush organs. She wanted a fetus, which I ordered, but it got canceled. We’ll see how long she sticks with that obsession. I think she’s shifting gears to space stuff from her other obsession (road signs), as she’s been talking about the solar system a lot. If that obsession would have kicked in earlier, it would have been much easier to find gifts for.

She told her teacher all about how much she loved body organs at our meeting last week, and the look on that woman’s face was priceless. Especially when she mentioned getting a uterus cake. And then BG broke out her “About Me” bag, which included a tiny gallbladder and stomach. After recovering, the teacher said she couldn’t wait to tell her assistant about that since that was the most interesting student interest she has seen.

The kiddo is sick today. After seeming fine all day yesterday, she got a headache and started running a fever last night. Same thing today and no other symptoms. We’ve been passing bugs around for the past month (of the 24-hour variety), so hopefully that’s all this is. If we can get by without projectile vomiting again, that’d be nice.

We Don’t Love Her Anymore

When Little Man was Baby Girl’s age, there wasn’t a lot of drama. Aside from him telling a kid he was going to hell (he said “hot place”) for telling a lie and for claiming we broke his heart when he was upset once, we didn’t get a lot of over-the-top stuff with him. (That came later.) Baby Girl, on the other hand, has a flair for the dramatic. She has been this way quite some time (she has tried giving her brother away on several occasions), and whenever she gets upset with us, she lobs all sorts of accusations at us.

When Baby Girl doesn’t get her way, sometimes she handles it fine, but other times we get the little pint-sized tyrant raging around, stomping her foot and other nonsense. The other nonsense these days is telling us we don’t love her anymore.

“Nobody likes me! There’s not a person in this house who loves me. I wish my mommy and daddy loved me. I’m so sad now.”

Lord. We tried reassuring her that we love her when she first started that, but now our reactions are more like RDJr’s above.

And, in addition to not loving her, she also isn’t our friend anymore. No screen time? “I’ll never be your best friend again!” She also uses this one when kids don’t play with her, whether she knows them or not.

She also accuses us of trying to starve her. The kid is a picky eater, which is frustrating (although I am, too, so I can’t complain too much), but I can deal with that.  Some folks wag their fingers at parents who fix more than one meal, but I’ve been there myself and know that with certain head-strong children, they’d rather go days without eating than give in. So, we make sure to get something she likes whenever we’re eating something she won’t go near. Sometimes, though, she refuses to eat the things she likes and even the things she asked for minutes earlier. I’m flexible, but I have my limits. If you don’t eat what you asked for, there’s no way in hell I’m making/getting something different.

(I hope she never mentions us starving her when we’re at an appointment with her pediatrician. She is a petite little thing.)

This doesn’t sit well with BG, of course. After grumbling, she eventually tells us, “You just want me to starve to death! I’m going to starve and you don’t care!”

Lord.

So…we don’t love the girl, we aren’t her best friends, and we try to starve her. What else? Well, one of her most recent comments wasn’t as dramatic as the others, but there was still an attempt.

After watching a TV show, she wanted another. I told her “No,” because we try to limit her screen time. Too much, and you’ll have a moody devil child on your hands. She wasn’t quite at that point when I told her “No” the other day, but she still voiced her displeasure.

“I just want a good mommy,” she told me.

Is a second RDJr eye-rolling gif too much? I don’t know what the poor child has done to deserve someone like me.

The drama will only increase, I imagine.

Hell Month

There are certain months of the year that I call Hell Months. Those are the months where there are hardly any blank spots on my calendar. It can be overwhelming, and some of us with our sanity intact more so than others. As it turns out, with both kids getting older, we have more of those types of months than not. (So it’ll become normal instead of overwhelming soon enough.) June is one of those months.

Before summer started, I added on extra appointments each week for BG’s speech and occupational therapies. I wanted to do twice per week for each one to try to get her as close to being ready for kindergarten as possible. And then the teacher she’ll have for 5K contacted me about a program that helps with kindergarten readiness. That is once per week for several weeks. The appointments are supposed to be an hour long, but BG blows through them in under 15 minutes. Her issue with readiness has nothing to do with the academic side of things, which is what these sessions are focused on. I’d rather not drive all the way into town for this, but at least she’s getting better acquainted with her teacher.

At the last appointment, Miss “I don’t know how to spell anything” used letter tiles to create words on her own and wrote words on a sheet of paper without being prompted. For whatever reason, she likes to pretend like she doesn’t know jack at home much of the time. I can ask her to read or spell a simple word like “did,” and she’ll usually act clueless. But then I’ll catch her spelling and printing out words on my label maker. I guess she likes telling us “no” so much that it’s just second nature for her to refuse to do something that she can easily do.

Back to June busyness.

So, after the therapy and school appointments were put in place, we then added on a few psychologist visits. A visit to the ENT. (She recently tested for a higher frequency hearing loss, so they’re gonna double check that. If she does indeed have that, it would explain why she struggles with certain sounds, which are also in the higher frequency range.) Another visit to the ENT to discuss possibly removing her tonsils. (Sleep apnea.) LM’s basketball camp. Plus some other random stuff. Since most of those appointments take place in the city an hour+ away, we have/will put some miles on the car this month. Therapies aside, though, July is looking much slower. (KNOCK ON WOOD.)

This week is one of those weeks were we have at least one appointment per day and sometimes two. Plus the girl’s birthday parties. It’s gonna be long, but will end on a great and fun note! BG has a very peculiar cake request, which I’ll be sure to share pictures of later. And we’re going to take her to see Toy Story 4 on her birthday. I hope it’s a little more lighthearted than Toy Story 3, because that one about broke me when we took LM to see it at the theater (he was 2, I believe).

How is your month looking?

Growing Up

It feels nice coming back to this blog. Kinda like coming home from a long vacation, except without all the suitcases to unpack and dirty laundry to wash. (Well, maybe not, since I’ll be airing out some stuff…expect lots of posts soon…but ya know.)

I’ve been lingering around the blogverse since late 2014, back when I had an infant and a first grader. And here we are, heading off to middle school and kindergarten. It’s funny how the first six years with LM didn’t fly by that quickly, but the last five have. You know, I expected to be a train wreck for the last part of May, when their graduations were taking place. Milestones — especially major ones like that — always get me. Jeez, when LM graduated from preschool, I was probably more of a train wreck than at any time in the past few years of blogging, so some of y’all know that’s saying something. (Being 29 and feeling all old for being so close to 30 didn’t help.)

I teared up at the preschool graduation, but only at the end when they showed photos from the year, including a baby photo of each graduate with a sound clip of those sweet little voices saying what they wanted to be when they grew up. One kid said Spider-Man (not mine, shockingly), a bunch of kids said teachers or firefighters or police officers, and mine (and her best friend) said doctor. That got to me. So much hope in those voices, so much innocence, and so much confidence because the world hasn’t knocked them down yet.

The boy’s graduation got to me a bit, too. Y’all know that song 7 Years by Lukas Graham? (I’ll link it at the end.) LM started listening to it when he was 7 years old, and now he’s 11 (another age that is referenced in the song), so it already makes my eyes wet. Well, some monster who really wanted to fuck with everyone’s emotions changed it to 5 Years and was about going from kindergarten to fifth grade. I don’t think there was a dry eye there, and a couple of the girls singing started bawling during the song. The rest of the kids faces looked like stone — you could tell they were really struggling to keep it together.

Once I was 5 years old
My mama told me
Go make yourself some friends in kindergarten
Once I was 5 years old

Soon, I’ll be all grown up
Right before your eyes, remember that we’re making lots of memories
I make my teachers happy when I use vocabulary
I hope my classes are just as fun as elementary
Soon, I’ll be all grown up
I will find success with lots of friends to support me
Soon, I’ll be all grown up
Soon, I’ll be all grown up
Will my parents be proud of me? Will I become what they hope for me?
Soon, I’ll be all grown up

That’s not all of it, just some from the beginning and the end, but you get the gist of it. I was glad the ceremony was outside so I had on sunglasses. I told LM that if he ever has to sing anything like that again to warn us. Or at least pass out xanax with the programs. Really, though, that part aside, it wasn’t that tough emotionally. Lots of happiness, lots of pride.

I didn’t really intend to write a post just about the kids growing up, but *shrugs*. I’m feeling all sentimental now, but next week I’ll probably write about some of Baby Girl’s more stressful antics and the hellishness of tweendom. (For real, though, why didn’t some of y’all warn me?!)