It seems like it’s been a long road to get where we are today. With any developmental screening, you start at the very beginning. My son’s early years were very typical of any baby. He was conceived via IVF and born at 36 weeks with no major complications. A little jaundice and his sucking reflexes were immature, which meant he had problems eating the first couple of days. He spent no time in the NICU and came home with me on day two. He met all the appropriate developmental milestones on time. When he was two, I began to get comments about his behavior. The nursery worker at church missed her sweet angel. She was sure he had hit his terrible twos running. His pre-school teacher thought maybe he was having problems adjusting to his new baby brother. He didn’t like sitting at the table to color. He didn’t sit still during circle time and reading time. However, she knew he was listening because he could answer questions about the story. At his three-year old check-up I mentioned this to the pediatrician who basically said he is a normal boy. That is what I wanted to hear and we moved on.
Years three and four began to reveal more pieces to the puzzle. He was always moving. Not bouncing off the walls moving (although it was that at times), but more like re-adjusting or trying to get comfortable. He didn’t sit in a chair at the table to eat. He preferred to stand. If he was sitting he would slide down t he chair then back up. Tuck a leg under him or pull both legs up so his knees are even with table. Constant motion. Pete and repeat. He would repeat phrases or words over and over. For example, I heard the dog bark mom. Yea he’s barking mom. The dog is barking. I hear barking. Mom, the dog is barking. I think I still hear barking mom. The dog is barking outside mom. He doesn’t stop until you acknowledge, yes Gabe I hear the dog barking, or something else catches his attention. You can imagine this might get on one’s nerves after a while. You’re either in or you’re out. He didn’t let a lot of people in. He didn’t make a connection with many people. If he didn’t like or connect with someone, it was as if they didn’t exist. He would not respond to them at all. However, if you could get in and make a connection, you were set. I tried explaining this to one pre-school teacher, and in doing so told her he needed a lot of praise and positive reinforcement in the beginning to make sure that connection happened. Her response was, Oh well I love all the children. I knew she didn’t get it, and she didn’t get in. (The pre-school I am referring to was a mother’s day out program. Not the public school program.)
There were other things going on as well. He didn’t look people in the eye. He was uncomfortable at large gatherings. Seemed overwhelmed by unpredictable situations. He had a very creative imagination. At one time during his fours, he had given super hero names to everyone in his circle. He was Ace. There were times he would get angry if you called him by his real name, his name was Ace. When my girlfriend would come over she would ask me which name today, because she knew if she used the wrong one, he would be angry and likely she would be on the outs for the day. I was laser girl, brother – astro boy, dad – Ice man, Robyn – fire girl, Joey – diamond man. You get the picture. He was very literal. If someone called him a stinker, he would get mad and say I don’t stink. He was very passionate about certain things. At one point it was sticks. We collected sticks everywhere we went. Going to the zoo made for awesome stick collecting. He only wanted to wear certain clothes (no jeans) and saying he was a picky eater would be an understatement.
On the other hand, he was a normal little boy. He loved, loved, loved it outside. Having people over for grilling or hanging out was always fun. Loved going to the movies and any kind of amusement park (hence two birthday parties at the Bartlesville Park). Star Wars, Justice League and Super Hero Squad Show are all DVD’s we own. Wrestling with dad and irritating brother. Swimming. He’s my cuddle bug.
I continued to voice our concerns with the pediatrician who continued to say he was a boy, and lets wait and see how he does in Pre-K. Some of our extended family felt we were making more out of it then we needed to. He was just a different kid. Never the less, my gut told me there was more to it. Peers his age were not having the same problems and behaviors. Going to Pre-K would be the game changer and journey to getting some answers would begin.
(I wrote these stories in past tense because I am talking about how he behaved years earlier. However, he still exhibits most of the same behaviors. Some have gotten better, some not so much.)