I've been contemplating this post for a few months. Its not something that is easy to share or that we really want to talk about. I dont' want to talk about it, I cry, then I feel stupid, so I mostly avoid the whole conversation.
I'll keep it short and start from the beginning.
Wes was an early talker, from his first word 'pup' (for our dog PuppPupp). His speech was so clear and easy to understand. He loved books, he would cry on and on for books, he couldn't get enough! He loved to jump in his jumper, he would jump for a good hour or two at a time - slobbery but happy!
He would have books memorized at 16 months and 'read' them back to us. We always thought he was pretty smart but we were first time parents and didn't let it get to us because we weren't sure what the norm was.
I started to notice my once fluent boy was stammering and repeating words and his mouth couldn't quite keep up with his brain. He liked to have order and line up his cars and trucks by color or size, none of these things really bothered me at the time. He would obsess over counting sprinklers or signs when we went on walks and would freak out if he missed one and we would have to start over again.
Come Kindergaarten time he had major seperation issues, I remember very clearly the teacher having to hold him down, on the ground while I left the room, he fought so hard to get to me and all I could do was turn and walk away. He had a hard time making friends in school, he wasn't interacting the way he should have, he wasn't paying attention, he couldn't keep his hands off the other kids. We received phone calls about twice a week for his teacher. I was mortified as a parent, I couldn't believe my sweet boy was acting out and being horrible in school! I was embarrassed and ashamed and felt like a horrible parent.
Wes was also starting to act out at home, he would throw terrible tantrums over seemingly small issues. There was no calming him down and all he wanted to do was fight and physically try to hurt us. We tried many forms of discipline, had many people try to tell us what to do and offer us advice and books and 'you need to do this, try this ect... Nothing worked.
1st grade started out so promising, the calls from the school were far less, a few here and there, but Wes seemed happier and was learning by leaps and bounds. He discovered a passion for reading, and I mean an insatiable thirst (he is just finishing up the Lord of the Rings books, and polished off the Chronicles of Narnia in no time at all). We would buy him The Magic Treehouse Books and he would have the first one read within 30 minutes - no kidding! His reading scores were off the charts at school and he was growing bored. His teacher said in her 17 years of teaching she has never seen a students with such high reading scores AND comprehension.
We just thought he was really smart.
Then trouble started happening, he would get in fights at school, other kids would pick on him, he was beat up so badly by some other boys that they were suspended for a week and Wes was moved permanently off the school bus to a different route. My boy had trouble making friends. He couldn't understand the social cues of the other kids, he had no idea how to play imaginary games, he doesn't know how to interact or what it is to be a friend. He has so much anger inside of him over this, it is so hard to see him want friends but not know how to make friends. He plays alone in the schoolyard, mostly kicking snowbanks and watching the other kids play.
We got a call from the school saying they wanted Wes to be observed in the classroom. At this point I assumed it was for behavior issues and I agreed it was a good idea. The woman from the school called me and introduced herself to me and let me know what her job was. I hung up the phone after our conversation and replayed the conversation in my head. Did she just say autism? nope not my kid, not happening, why??...then I started crying, not my son, please God not my son.
We tried not to let it get to us, they still hadn't observed him yet so we don't know for sure. Kyle bought a book on Autism and we started to do our own research. It was all clear now. We originally though he had Aspergers Syndrome, come to find out he has PDD-NOS.
Its hard, he looks like a normal kid and in alot of areas he is! He has horrific meltdowns, people think he is a spoiled child and I've often heard people (yes, other 'adults') yell at him, not knowing his condition and that his brain won't let him process his actions, unaware that its not socially acceptable to flip out in public.
This unofficial diagnosis from the school has helped us in many ways. We are disiplining him more effectively, but its not always easy. The school system has far exceeded our expectations and I cannot put into words how awesome the staff is, how wonderful Wes 1st grade teaching has been.
So now you all know.
Please keep Wes and Kyle and I and little brother Jack in your prayers.