Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What's Going On With Little Bean

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.


Annette W. said...

I had noticed that you had been quiet, but I think a lot of bloggers take breaks as needed, so I didn't think too much of it.

Thank you for sharing from your heart. May you continue to find peace and comfort from God, who will give you wisdom!

Something to keep in mind, and I hope you don't mind me saying, is that anger (especially for some of us grown!) is not found in fits of rage, but the slow burning type that leads to cynicism and bitterness. I'm not sure how the slower burning anger looks in children, but anger doesn't always have to end in outward maybe you are right in saying that he needs the tools to help him cope, even if it is the quiet anger.

Love and hugs! Annette

Corina said...

Thanks for sharing your story. My middle son has "issues", too - he's got Seperation Anxiety Disorder. It's hard to know what exactly is going on and often hard to accept that something isn't right, so I hope you get some answers soon.

Valerie said...

Hoping you find the answers you are looking for as you begin the journey to diagnose your son. Sometimes, as mothers, we just know when something isn't quite right...even if we can't put our finger on it or put a name to it.

Whether the answer is AS or not, I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as you help your son to navigate his way in this at-times-challenging world. With you in his corner, he's sure to experience success.

Kirsten, Chris, Jacob, Sarah & Evan said...

You know I'm thinking of you and your family aways. We will always be here for you even if it's just for a listening ear. Little Bean is such a special boy we love him dearly.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to your post. Our daughter has similar traits, which is why we began homeschooling. The mainstream setting was not something she could handle emotionally, and certainly could not learn there. I look forward to following your journey. You are in my prayers.

Chick Hatchers said...

I noticed you're following my blog, so I thought I'd stop by yours. Your son has similar personality traits to my middle daughter. I'd like to encourage you to seek a diagnosis, but don't let it rule his life. It can provide a therapeutic path to help him learn those skills that don't come naturally to him and he can grow and thrive just as any other child. It will, however, help you better understand what goes on in his head. My daughter has benefited greatly from anger therapy. Basically, she has learned how to express her feelings verbally, excuse herself if she needs to be alone, and help her learn techniques to calm down. She has also learned how to express to me when a situation is stressful (like crowded places where she doesn't know anyone.) That can be stressful enough to cause a meltdown there or at home. But as long as I know that, I can remind her of the calming techniques she's learned or give her a quiet place to be comfortable. No matter what state you are, you have a right to services through your school district, but honestly, you will get more out of private services (occupational therapy for sensory disorder, which many HFA kids do, or speech therapy) if you have insurance. The programs through school districts are geared towards helping a kids get through the school day without being too disruptive. Private services are more encompassing.

Keep us all posted on how things come along.

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