When I was dating my husband, he confessed that he had odd habits as a child. "I used to walk around and mess with my fingers while pretending. I also used to flap my hands." His friend teased him about flipping his pencil incessantly during exams. I began to suspect that my husband had undiagnosed ADHD and that flipping things around was his coping mechanism. It didn't help that my husband marvels that I can "sit and stair at the walls" or that he has to shush me while driving because he can't talk and drive at the same time very well. Sometimes he makes wrong turns. If he gets distracted in the morning, he forgets where he was in his "morning routine" and will forget to do things like brush his teeth.
Last summer I suspected that HB's rambunctious behavior was ADHD related. It didn't help that he clutched to small objects, thus reminding me of my husband's need for flapping pencils. My babysitter was ADHD so I asked her her thoughts. She said that once he started school they would figure it out, but she kindly loaned me a book about ADHD. I read the first bit of it. The author says that she can say with almost certainty that a child who cries a lot during infancy (outside having an underlining medical condition) will develop ADHD. My face falls. That describes HB's infancy.
We start school and the teachers notice something is up too. But the doctor calls us in saying he suspected Autism (although not ruling out ADHD). I find myself crying. Not because ASD is something awful, but because it feels wrong. It's so frustrating, and I can see HB trying so hard. I don't want him to feel discouraged. It's pinnacle that he have the right diagnosis.
The doctor wants some more of HB's background so I contact his previous school from the States. The school that's run by the department of psychology. She tells me she doesn't think he has autism. She's worked with ASD kids. He never displayed any classic symptoms, but he seems like a candidate for ADHD. Waves of relief. Perhaps the doctor will bare weight to her thoughts.
I pick up HB from school. Almost every afternoon, I can see he's exhausted from having to focus so much. He let's it go on the walk back home so I have to prod him. "Look, there's C and her grandma. Let's go catch up to her." "Okay." he chirps gleefully. He runs up ahead to catch up to her. He walks behind them for a while until he finds a stick or a big snow pile and then he bends over to examine it. I prod him to catch back up. He waits with them at the cross walk looking around him, but clearly encouraging me to stand close to him. Sometimes he has so much trouble not dawdling that I put in the stroller.
He needs some help in the bathroom. I lean over and end up bumping my head. "Ouch! That hurt." I say. "Did you hurt your head? Oh, I'm sorry. Here let me kiss it, Mama." And he kisses my head.
Later I'm in the kitchen and he runs into to give me a just because hug.
He goes upstairs at night and his dad helps him to brush and floss his teeth. "Mom!" he shouts. "I brushed AND flossed my teeth!" He's so proud.
None of it looks like ASD to me. I just want my kid to have the right diagnosis. I want him to focus on both the things he enjoys and the things he doesn't so much. I want the fits that he throws over transitioning from to a new activity to subside. He's trying. But it's tough.