From the time he was 18 months, I started hearing comments about Jean's development. He had hit all his developmental milestones on point: sat alone by 5 months, crawled at 9 months, walked at 11 months. But he wasn't too verbal by 18 months and he was a very temperamental baby. Grandmas (doctors) and great-grandmas (teachers) kept insisting there was something wrong. By age 2, I finally caved and took him to a pediatric neurologist that specialized in development. She said he was a strong-willed kid, with a minimal lag in his speech, but developmentally fine.
He had been in day care from the time he was a tiny baby, and as he grew, problems like biting, and tantrums were becoming common occurrences. He became weird about food, he wouldn't stop humming, he would put everything in his mouth and he would not sit still. I realized there really was something up, but even though friends and family threw around terms like Autism and Asperger's; it just didn't sound right to me.
He was eventually diagnosed with ADHD. (And oh how easy they make that diagnosis.) "Medicate him!" they said. Teachers, therapists and school psychologists gently pushed for medication. You know, because they're not supposed to. Still I just felt that wasn't right for my kid. So I went online. And in forums and blogs, I found what it was. I went to an occupational therapist and... voilá, case closed. My son has Sensory Processing Disorder.
Jean is a kid with an incredible amount of profound feelings, he's a thinker, he's very deep. He is unbelievably good at math and science and now at 8, he's a loving sweet kid who excels in sports and is super social. Maybe he couldn't express himself back then in a way most could understand, in the almighty "normal" way educators and reserchers use to classify kids. Sometimes we go overboard trying to understand the way individuals grow. People are not robots, we're all not supposed to behave the same way and even though you always hear "every child does things at his or her own pace" kids are immediately singled out when they don't.
Though we should obviously never ignore when someone presents symptoms of a disabling condition, we cannot be trigger happy in labeling people with disorders. Some might even say Jean is just a new kind of soul, with different sensibilities that has come into the world for these changing times. Whatever it is, what I learned is to always follow my mother's intuition, and listen to him, really listen, before paying attention to what others might think about him. Mom always knows best.
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