My son is my oldest child, so the general rule is that is the experimental child, right? As a new parent you really have no clue what you are doing, you just slog through it and hopefully are willing to learn as you go.

He was colicky and allergic in his infancy, I did the best I could but really I had no clue. He was held and loved and rocked and we just kept moving forward. He had the greatest imagination from the time he could utter sounds. He became obsessed with cowboys and horses. He learned his first words from John Wayne movies, not always the best first words to say!

When he was just 3 the well baby clinic wanted me to have him tested. They thought he was behind in his cognitive skills. Well I want to be a good mom, so off we go to the big city for testing. We drove in for 3 days of puzzles and matching pictures and following commands and hearing tests, there were tons of tests and forms. The end of the first day I could tell they thought something was really wrong with him. They began to do more and more simple things and discuss him quietly in the corner. It was scary for me. What was wrong? What did I do wrong?

The thing is, the kid they were testing wasn’t the kid I knew at home. The kid at home was happy and inquisitive and constantly building and making puzzles and wanting a story. This kid I knew at home loved playing with his little sister, blowing bubbles, riding his stick horse for hours, playing with homemade salt dough, digging for treasure in the sand, having bubble baths with his cowboys. The kid they were testing sat without saying much, didn't respond to commands, wouldn’t make puzzles or do the games. He wouldn’t make eye contact, he wouldn’t repeat sentences, nothing. I was worried, I had never seen him like this before.


On the third day I drove back to the testing site with a weary heart. What was going to happen today? What would they tell me was wrong with my boy? How would we be able to help him? But as we drove I heard him in his car seat babbling away with his sister, pointing out things, asking if we could go to McDonalds, he was just being my boy. As we pulled into the parking lot his whole being changed, he became quiet and withdrawn and unresponsive. Hmmmmmm, what was that about? During the testing I began to just watch him closely and ignore the tester. But I did pay close attention to all they asked him to do. I realized that there was nothing they asked him to do that he wasn’t constantly doing at home very well. So when they left him to have a consultation with specialists I sat down on the floor with Aaron and asked him if he wanted to play a game.

My boy came alive! We made puzzles, we played matching words, we colored, we did everything I had seen them try to get him to do for 4 days, and all the while he chattered and laughed and smiled. I knew the mirror was a 2 way and they were probably watching, so I admit I ran him through his paces to show him off a little.

They came into the room and asked to speak to me after about 45 minutes. They told me that they had come very close to pronouncing my boy as borderline retarded and sending him to a special school, but after watching me with him they realized that wasn’t the correct diagnoses. I breathed a sigh of relief but they weren’t through with us yet. They now concluded that he was anti-social and would still need counseling and constant care.

That moment marked the first time in my life that I realized I was smart enough and capable enough to know what my kids needed and I needed to stand up for them against all opposition. So when I left that office that day I gave some real thought to what to do next. I had an hours drive so lots of time to think. I realized that this precious boy was unique but not weird. I realized that like most 3 year olds he spent all his time with me and therefore and had no experience dealing with other adults. So he didn’t need a special school, he just need experience. So I signed him up for a local pre-school 3 afternoons a week and he loved it.

Extremely long story short, he did great! However we began to notice some things he struggled with as he made his was through school, so we tested again. In 3rd grade he was diagnosed with ADD, meds were prescribed. The school wanted me to put him in special education classes and have an IEP (individual educational plan) in place for him. Once again I had a moment of clarity! This boy was smart, this boy was capable, this boy was easy going and kind with a ready smile. He needed a bit of extra attention, he needed to be sat next to the teachers desk instead of the middle of the room, he needed a lot of follow up from mom for homework and getting things turned, he didn’t need someone making excuses for him and telling him he had to do less.

It was quite a fight I can tell you! The school was to classify him, wanted to stick him in a hole and forget him. Nope, by this time I had learned to follow my gut feelings and do what was right for my kids, so I fought!

It was a long hard learning curve for both him and me but we made it. We kept him on minimal meds so he could function. We had to watch for depression and we had to make sure he ate enough. Some days were a real struggle, some were fine, just like any other kid. I met with teachers at least monthly, I sat with him doing homework every single day, sometimes for hours, I went to the school every Friday afternoon and we cleaned out his desk, we turned in things that had just sat there and we went over homework that needed to be caught up over the weekend and we made a plan for the next week.

At home we taught organization skills, we made charts, we talked and we followed up and followed through. It was a lot of hard work! But I learned that his ADD was as much about good parenting and teaching as it was about anything. I learned that if we took him off his meds during the summer and started them up again about 2 weeks before school started it would give his body a rest. It also helped him understand how his mind and body felt different and helped him learn some coping skills. We learned that most kids find some relief or complete recovery around 16 or 17. We also learned that my husband has ADD! He had no idea until we were going through the testing with our son and then my husband kept saying…..this is me….this is what I do….this is what happened to me.

The knowledge that my husband had been and was going through this was an inspiration to me. I knew exactly what I needed to do now. My husband had developed over the years a kind of hyper focus that had stood him well. It was kind of irritating to talk to him sometimes and the next day he would have no idea we even had a conversation! But I learned that if I had him focus on me I had his COMPLETE attention. So we began to work on helping our son to focus. By the time he reached 9th grade we noticed a great difference in him. By the time the school year was half over we had taken him off his meds. He still had some hard days, but he felt better off the meds and he was willing to work through it. And I followed through and followed up! Have I mentioned how important parenting is! You have to be a pro-active, on the ball, willing to take the flak parent!

My son did develop a kind of hyper focus, it has stood him well for them most part. He’s a loving husband and father, soon to be a father of 2! He works hard and plays hard and is doing just great. Every single struggle and worry and late night math problem and tear and parent teacher meeting and retest and every thing else was worth it!!! He’s capable, smart, productive, happy and he knows how to handle himself.

Being a parent of a child with any kind of issue is a struggle and some days can make you crazy. But be their parent, be strong, use wisdom and large helpings of prayer. When you see them so gently cradling and singing to their own child it makes it all worth it. When you see them happy in their work and family it makes it all worth it. When you can feel like it was a job well done……yes it was all worth it.