My regular readers may have noticed that I've been pretty quiet lately. I have a ton of stuff going on in my personal life that has kept me busy and kept me from feeling like posting. One of the things we've been dealing with as a family has to do with Little Bean. I thought I'd share about it here, only because who knows, others may be dealing with similar challenges, and also just to record my thoughts during this unique time in our lives.
We have always known that Little Bean was...different. He has always been highly intelligent, learning to talk very early and possessing a truly mind-boggling memory. He has also always been an anxious little boy, prefering his routines and becoming easily frustrated with anything that he couldn't master immediately. While his behavior outside the home has always been fantastic, whenever it was just the family, he would often throw tantrums and just go off his rocker at the slightest thing. It's like he has two emotional switches--on and off, and nothing in between. In the past, we always attributed his great behavior in public as a side effect of being a shy person. But lately, we've been examining his challenging behavior a little more closely, and it's led us to speaking with our pediatrician.
After hearing about our concerns, she referred us to a psychologist. We had a really nice appointment with her, and she suggested that he be tested for Asperger's Syndrome. It was so ironic that she mentioned that because when we started thinking more about his different issues and challenges, I mentioned to my dh that his problems reminded me of the limited knowledge I had of Asperger's Sydrome. I even purchased a book on Aspergers prior to our appointment. He has a lot of the characteristics of Aspergers (basically, high-functioning autism) like sensory issues, problems making friends, problems reading non-verbal social cues, anxiety, etc. But other things don't really fit him, like he doesn't have any of the repetitive speech or movements, and though he has a special interest (which is a characteristic of those with autism), it's not one of the typical kinds of special interests that I've read about. We are moving forward with the testing, but aren't sure when it will happen or how long it will take. In the mean time, a wonderful friend from church, who actually happens to be his Sunday School teacher, and has a son with Aspergers/HFA, has loaned me some books on the subject, so I've been busy reading and learning as much as I can. She is such a blessing in this time, because as his teacher in Sunday School and with her knowledge of AS, she can let me know of anything different she notices while he is with her. It's the faithfulness of God, I tell ya!
The therapist also suggested that he attend anger classes. Outsiders would never guess Little Bean has an anger problem....and actually I don't think he has an anger problem per say, it's more that he lacks the necessary tools to help him keep calm, so he has frequent tantrums and emotional outbursts over what seem like very small things to most people. I also think he tends to "hold it all in" in public and then when he comes home the anxiety from the day just spills out in the form of anger. We start the classes at the end of October, and I'm hopeful that he will gain some tools to help him manage his frustration from this class.
So right now, everything is like one big question mark--does he have Aspergers? If yes, what services are available to him? Does he have to be a public school student to receive services through the state? If he doesn't have it, what else could be causing the anxiety and social problems? I'll actually be relieved once all the testing is done and we have a firm yes or no; I've known for a long time that something wasn't right, now I just want to know what it is and how we can help him be a happy, successful, little boy.