Thursday, January 19, 2012

The "A" Word : Part 1

When she was just under 2 years old, someone mentioned it, in response to my lamenting over her hitting others so much. It nagged at me. But I brushed it aside. Not my girl. She looked us in the eye, she showed us affection. She was learning to talk.

But still, the hitting continued. It didn't appear to be something she was going to grow out of. As members of the local MOM's club, we became playgroup drop outs. The crying children and judgemental Mommy eyes were just too much. I carefully selected the places we would go. Outdoor venues seemed to be o.k. for her. Playgrounds with lots of space and not too much noise were usually good experiences. Closed in loud places like Chuck E. Cheese were just plain horrible. Even close friends disappointed me - suggesting playdates should be avoided till D1 grew out of this stage. It was frustrating and lonely. I wanted everyone to love my little D1 like I did. I wanted everyone to see how amazing she was - smart,creative and sweet. Yes, sweet. She loved her Mama and her DaDa.

And at this time we had our little D2. My D1 tolerated her at best. Terrorized her at the worst of times. I would take out my beautiful baby and keep my fingers crossed that no one would notice the scratch marks across her face and ask how they happened. I lived in constant stress. Setting the baby down on the floor and walking into the adjoining room for just a second was never an option. I never knew what my D1 might do. D2 was carried around with me nearly every second.

I made extra phone calls to our pediatrician, explaining the latest event and being told it was all in the normal range of developmentally normal. But it just didn't seem right to me. No matter how much I hoped and prayed, she wasn't growing out of it.

I felt lonely, scared and confused. I would vassilate between wondering if something was wrong with my girl and brushing it off as over-worry of a Momma with her first born.

When my D1 was about 2 1/2 we added another big transition to her little life. We joined the exodus from over-priced New Jersey to PA. And it was a bumpy transition. While looking for a permanent home to buy we lived in a horrible rental with fleas, scary, unstable trees and electrical issues. I was able to explain away my D1's behavior on the wacky transitions.

But her behaviors, our living quarters and my post-pardum hormones put a toll on me. I was exhausted, weepy and full of mood swings. With support from Hubby, my Mom, Sister and one very close friend I made it through a very lonely confusing time.

Once we found our permanent home and settled in I prayed she would make the adjustment and her behaviors would improve. But as she grew a little older and the hitting continued and was joined with a few other quirky behaviors I wondered some more. The over the top fear of loud noises, the non-existent impulse control (I mean, a lake in our kitchen? Really?, the strange sensory seeking behaviors (paint smeared all over your body, really? we just cleaned up the lotion you smeared) the seemingly literal translation of everything we said to her. I read up on Sensory Processing Disorder. I read about how ADHD can effect girls differently. I would see some similarities, but others that seemed not quite right.

Feeling so alone in a new town I bravely set out to make some new friends. Despite the experiences I had in my NJ Mom's Club, I decided to join the local chapter again. Just shy of D1's third birthday I bravely attended a playgroup at another Mom's house. It went well. The Mom's in the group seemed to have more children, appeared to be more laid back and less hoverish about their kids.

We went through a nice time where the hitting and other behaviors seemed to only happen at home. While still frustrated, I was relieved that she was learning to play well with others.

But at home she began biting me, her Daddy and her sister. My cute little D2 walking around with cuts and bruises the shape of a mouth on her arms and legs. It was heart breaking. I talked to our new pediatrician. His response was that it was outside of his scope of knowledge. He referred us to a therapist. I made an appointment and nervously met with her first, without D1. After explaining D1's behaviors, the therapist suggested I try biting her back. Really? Where did she get her degree? Redneck U? I was frustrated and feeling more alone than ever.

Hubby and I were so confused. Could anyone help us? Were we just inadequate parents who didn't know how to handle a spirited child?

Then in the Spring of '09 my then 13 year old nephew was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. It sent me into a tailspin. Could my little girl also have this? I compared articles on girls with ADHD and girls with Aspergers. It all just left me so very confused. I could see a little of her in both. But it just didn't seem totally like her. The confusion and uncertainty continued.

She continued with the strange,although hilarious, impulsive behaviors. No bottle of lotion, paint, glue or shampoo was safe when left out. I would enter into a friends home and quickly scan the area for possible future messes. She once again began hitting others outside our home. We received reports from school of hitting, and once again I had to break up fights at play dates and other social situations.

~to be continued in a few days


kimbop said...

Wow - finally had time to read this. Very good and love how the pictures put a face on the narrative, not just literally. I'll be waiting for part two...

Krazy Kat Lady said...

I am so sorry. Our friendship had fallen off around then & I hadn't realized how rough things had gotten for you. You really are an amazing & powerfully strong woman. Big hugs & kisses to you XOXOXO