Preparing for Pre-K challenges

Published on 7 March 2022 at 11:26

Mr. I's energy was beyond my ability to keep up, and I thought I was having children at a young age! I remember attempting to be creative when he was younger.  I would take the kids outside and let them run "wild." They would run laps around the pool until they were exhausted. They enjoyed it, but not as much as I did! Ready, set, GO!  After 10 laps, four of our five children dropped out. I lost track after 14! There was no stopping Mr. I. He would just keep going, like the Energizer Bunny.  He only stopped when I told him the race was over, but his energy remained. 

As he grew, there was little conversation with him because his mind was racing at a hundred miles per minute. He could not stay focused long enough to understand you. He was too busy to do anything other than make silly noises and bounce around.  There was no walking, only running. There was no silence; he was loud. He disliked sleeping. Bedtime routines would last for hours, with me rocking him. Most nights, I would give up and sleep on the floor in front of his door to keep him safe while I was exhausted.  This was my second bed during the sleepless nights of him walking circles around his room in agitation, up until the year of stabilization (February 2021). 

Mr. I was well-known for throwing his plate before he had any food on it, or his food before he had any in his mouth.  His utensils were airplanes flying across the room.  He was always jumping all over the chair and table, so he could not eat a full meal. 

He began doing things that are now recognized as sensory disorders. Mr. I chewed everything. Mr. I was extremely sensitive to noise, running from bells, loud flushing toilets, and wall hand dryers. This would result in meltdowns or shutdowns. He showed signs of being extremely anxious about this. His powerful sniffer would sometimes keep him from the dinner table. His sensory perception seemed to be intermittent. At times, he was like a pregnant woman who was nauseated by the smell of her husband cooking, but other times it did not bother him. Mr. I had wooden alphabet blocks that he absolutely adored. He would carve them into circles with his teeth, just like a small beaver would.  I still get goosebumps just thinking about the splinters I had to remove from his teeth and gums. By the age of Pre-K, he had already performed the Roger Rabbit ceiling fan swing (ripping a fan nearly off the ceiling while attempting to swing it in circles). He chewed through a 500-piece Lego set and bit into my brand-new leather couch, teaching me not to buy new furniture until my children are older.  We cleared out his room and switched to chew toys/necklaces and bracelets for safety after realizing he could not properly play with toys or anything battery-operated (he takes them apart). He had a room with safe sensory toys.   We went through a lot of them.  He never owned a toy that had not been destroyed or disassembled. He would pull up all of his bedroom carpet, shred and try to eat the carpet padding, remove window/door trim, and peel paint off walls.   Mr. I made holes in his bedroom walls where he would then become the human fire truck and water down the hole. Like most young children who suffer from sensory disorders, his pooh was another one; we will leave that one to the imagination.  Fortunately, this ended at the age of seven, when diapers were no longer required for bedtime. Oh, I will never forget all my tears and the constant cleaning.  I do not miss those days.  We tried everything, including putting outfits on backwards and taping zippers from the inside. This kiddo has escaped everything from clothing, high chairs, playpens, car seats, the house, and even school (he walked out and walked home). He struggled a lot with understanding the dangers in his surroundings. 

Tantrums would occur, and there was no way to soothe him. He could be having a good time playing around, and then the simplest things would set him off in a big way, especially for his age. He struggled to adjust to change or to have things taken away from him. He was a strong-willed baby who would not back down.  I felt compelled to be constantly present with him in order to resolve any issues that arose. He would cry until he was blue in the face, and his throat would become hoarse at times. When he was a toddler and upset, he would hit and bite. Initially, I thought it was normal.  All children go through this and learn as they grow, but these behaviors intensified with age. By the age of five, he was banging his head or fists against walls and throwing objects across the room or at others.  He was much smaller then. I could hug him tightly, keeping him and the others safe. I would try to calm him with my voice. Waiting it out would feel endless.  He was much easier to care for at this age, but our hands were full.  I was completely exhausted by the end of the day. 

Pre-K was just around the corner, and I knew something was not right about my child, but no one else noticed our difficulties.  I always referred to his behaviors as camouflaged. I frequently wondered about autism. It made the most sense to me at the time based on my research. I spent a great deal of time trying to understand my child. When I brought it up with family or friends, I was told, "You are just too hard on him," or "That kid just needs a good spanking," as if I could simply spank him out of it. Other things I remember are, "There's nothing wrong with him, he will grow out of it", and "You just need to spend more time with him". The problem was that I spent all of my time with him. There was no walking away. This marked the beginning of my parental isolation.  Nobody seemed to understand. I was blamed. We did everything we could to prepare him for school, but we knew the teacher would struggle with his hyperactivity and lack of comprehension. I could never explain it. It was as if certain things were being blocked. Nonetheless, he was a very clever child. He refused to listen to reason and never apologized. Mr. I was unable to function without a routine. This meant I needed a routine. Here is where I tell parents that they will not be successful unless they learn to adapt to their child's needs. Bedtimes, mornings, meals, playtime, and trip planning. We rarely had successful adventures outside of the home, they tended to set off a massive meltdown, and a judgemental eye would end any glimpse of hope of not being a home prisoner. Everything had to be consistent or a whole day would be lost. 

Mr. I was always in trouble for doing something he shouldn't. He was great at pushing buttons and never seemed to listen.  He could not seem to reason with consequences and had no concept of the word NO.  We had trouble getting him to follow the rules. He would always do things that you would expect someone his age to know better.  For example, he might stick paper clips into an outlet or attempt to fly by jumping off the balcony of the stairs.  He was always the risk-takers. If given the opportunity, he would walk out the door and disappear into his curious world. He was a child who needed your undivided attention. Unfortunately, our other children lacked our attention because he required it more. I never felt as if I could relax. He would go from one thing to the next.    

During our meeting with his new Pre-K teacher, we expressed our concerns.  We talked about his hyperactivity because it was one of our most difficult issues at the time. He could not sit still and would walk in circles through the house. We assumed he would outgrow the rest of it.  He is always flighty. We had planned to seek medical advice, but she asked us to postpone it for the time being. She wanted a "go" at things. She was confident that Pre-K would provide him with enough activity to burn off some of his energy.  She had over 20 years of experience and was confident she could steer him in different directions to keep him busy. We hoped he just needed something to do during the day. After the first week, his school decided to hire an aide specifically for him. He preferred to do his own thing and disengage from the group.  They spent a lot of time chasing him.  After the conversation with his teacher, the only words I recall hearing were "flighty" and "possibly the worst case of ADHD" she had ever seen.   

Our next step was to consult with a doctor and devise a new strategy.