Special Needs Kids are the New Black

JI may or may not be autistic. He may or may not have ADHD. He does have SPD. He does have a speech delay. He does have a gross motor delay. He does have social/emotional behavioural delays. JI is a special needs kid. There, I said it.

I never thought I’d be this mom, this special needs kid’s mom, this mom who is researching how to get her son to recover from a meltdown faster, who has to interpret her son’s language for his father and grandparents, who has met with so many doctors and specialists and teachers and evaluators that she bought a day planner… a day wpid-20140527_122142.jpgplanner! But I love my son and I want him to have the best life he can have, and I will not let his disabilities stand in his way because he is so incredibly bright. I mean, the kid is three operating at a kindergarten level! Just because he can’t speak properly doesn’t mean he’s stupid.

So here’s what I mean when I say that special needs kids are the new black: everybody’s got one, and it is trendy to have one. You could say that special needs kids are the new tiny dog in a giant purse; if you haven’t got one to deal with and talk about and take pictures of, you’re out of the clique. At first it was okay – so many parents thought their kids had a problem, so they took them to the doctors and awareness was raised. No longer were autistic children put in homes to rot away, no longer were kids with ADHD labeled “bad” and punished, and so forth. But then, it became a thing. Every little kid who threw a fit wpid-june2014-076.jpg.jpegsuddenly needed to be on medication. Every preteen who rebelled was labeled as having Oppositional Defiant Disorder. The pharmaceutical industry boomed. There were so many kids on the spectrum that everywhere you turned another kid was being diagnosed. Then the celebrities started getting involved. Perhaps the most famous, Jenny McCarthy led the good fight against vaccinations and claimed that she healed her son, cured his autism, through diet and holistic treatments. The thing is, nobody knows what causes most conditions, and it is highly unlikely that what she did “cured” him. Certain symptoms can be alleviated, but there is no cure for autism.

I’ve read stories online of people whose child went through several major life changes in a short period of time and stoppedwpid-20141013_122605.jpg speaking. Are they autistic? No. I’ve heard about a kid who switched schools and fought with his teachers every day for months. Does he have ODD? Not likely. I have read about a parent who more or less ignored their toddler, so the child constantly acted out, ran away, and threw tantrums. Were they having ADHD related meltdowns? No. But all of these children were labeled special needs at the behest of their parents, and that is the problem. A diagnosis for your kid justifying your shitty parenting or lack of ability to deal with kids being kids does not a special needs child make. There are HUGE differences between a meltdown and a tantrum, as explained here.

The thing I don’t understand is why a parent would want a special needs kid in the first place. Those of us who have them, of course we love them, but I wouldn’t wish this lifestyle on anyone – and my kid isn’t even that “bad off”. I know people in real life who have nonverbal autistic kids, who have kids who have cerebral palsy, kids who have neurological disorders and their children all require round-the-clock care. JI can pass for a typical child on any given day, as long as you only have him for that one day. Between the struggles to make him comfortable, to make us comfortable, to get him the help he needs, it has been a difficult and lengthy process. I have cried, I have screamed, I have smoked so many anxiety cigarettes. Once again, I would not wish this easy-compared-to-others situation on anyone, so why parents push for it, I cannot comprehend.

wpid-20150218_194819.jpgPlease – parent your child. Try all the other avenues first. Are they acting out? Reward good behaviour with the attention they so desperately seek. Don’t put them on medication. Do they hit, bite, scratch? Teach them about others’ feelings and how to keep your hands to yourself. Don’t get them a label. And then, when all else has failed, then go to your doctor and discuss your child’s behaviour. I’m not an expert and I do not claim to be one, but I know the difference between a special needs kid and a kid just being a kid. Let’s let our kids be kids before we jump to saddle them with something that could potentially follow them for the rest of their life.

Check out this AMAZING video:

Posted by CCHR International on Friday, April 3, 2015

It describes perfectly what I’m trying to say.


Let’s Talk About Why JI is Extra Special

My older son, JI, is going to be four in July. When he was nine months old, I noticed that something was “off”. At first, I thought he was2012-03-27_16-47-42_778 deaf, until he passed a hearing test with flying colors. He never babbled, didn’t do much “talking” of the infant variety at all. He barely responded to voices and people, though he was incredibly alert. So we hooked up with Help Me Grow here in Franklin County, and they ran some tests on my little guy. He was ahead in his motor skills, behind in speech and language. Thus, from the age of one, JI has been in speech therapy continuously.

beechwold (1)The first suspicion the specialists and our pediatrician had was Autism. I was very leery to label him, however, because he was so young and because I feel that certain conditions are way over diagnosed in this day and age. It’s a good thing I held out, too, because after a few months of speech therapy JI was making eye contact, using letter sounds, and becoming proficient in ASL for kids. Between speech and occupational therapy, he had outgrown all the symptoms of Autism by age two.

However, at age two, he was still far, far behind in his speech and language, so we enrolled him in a school for special needsIMG_20140301_173733_621 kids. He went to school every day, rode the bus, and socialized with other special needs kids as well as typical peers. At the beginning of the school year, JI had about ten spoken words, and by the end of the school year, he had well over one hundred. Columbus City Schools did their evaluation and determined he was no longer “disabled” and invited him to return to that school as a peer. This year’s school year started off with JI in the peer group of his classroom, and it was apparent within weeks that he was absolutely not ready for that. Academically (language/math/etc) and in regards to fine motor, JI is at above average at a kindergarten level. However, his speech is at 15-18 months, his gross motor is behind, and his social-emotional-behavioural level is way below average as well. It took half the school year to have all the necessary screenings and evals done by Columbus City Schools until he was finally qualified as disabled once again. Unfortunately, that meant switching schools.

February of this year was a rough time to start with because I was set to have Squeaks, my newborn, by c-section on the 11th. He arrived early, messing up all our plans. JI attended five whole days of school in the month of February, between the waiting period from school to school, having to stay with my parents out of town when the baby came early, and many, many snow days. Life has been tough the past few months, but I am holding it together as best I can.


Now that he’s been in his new school for almost two months, a new set of issues is coming to the surface. We have an appointment with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in May to once again have JI screened for Autism, as well as ADHD and other behavioural conditions.

I’m not trying to force a diagnosis on him, but it will be comforting and a relief to know that maybe it’s not just Sensory Processing Disorder or bad behaviour, and once we have something official I can get him the exact help he needs.