Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Jude the Dude

It's time for an update on these two kiddos of ours!  As always, I shall start with our firstborn, sweet Jude the Dude.

A lot has happened over the last few months.  I started not to say anything, then I wanted to say everything, and finally told myself to take a minute and reflect for a bit.

This story has a very happy ending, so don't fret, friends.

Ever since Jude was 18 months, I've known something was a little off.  I could never put my finger on it and was told by so many I needed to stop comparing him to his sister, stop comparing him to his peers, and just let him be.  At the same time, I've been told the mom instinct is a very powerful tool so I had conflicting feelings.  The only thing you ever hear about little boys is autism.  I've read about it and completed checklists - he never fit the mold.  No one who knows him (especially doctors) thought he was autistic.  Deep down, I knew he wasn't either.

After he didn't qualify for Early Childhood Intervention at 18 months, we had him tested again at 2.5 years and he qualified for speech.  His therapist came to our home once a week and we saw some solid improvements with Jude.  At that time she mentioned he had some sensory issues, which I'd never noticed before.  Let me rephrase that, of course I noticed them but I always attributed them to him being all boy.  He loves to touch everything, crawl in small spaces, stand on his head, and his energy is endless.  She mentioned having an ECI occupational therapist evaluate him so I went along with it.

The therapist asked me a ton of questions and I didn't know the answers.  She kept saying, "Does he like to jump or does he NEED to jump?"  What?  "He likes to jump."

He didn't qualify.

At their 3-year appointment, I'd had a rough few days of family illness and was having surgery the next morning so nerves were high.  Jude was literally (and I mean literally) bouncing off the walls.  And I lost it.  Crying big, ugly tears for 1,001 reasons but at that moment I was looking at an out-of-control child who would not sit still.  She reassured me he was all boy and life would get easier when he turned seven.


Last month, Jude was kissing me passionately (the only way to describe this boy's kisses) and then he pressed his forehead against mine with so much force it hurt.  I pulled back to see him grinning at me as he immediately tried to do it again.  It was a little odd and stuck with me.  That night we put them to bed and I pulled out my computer.  After I made sure Michael wasn't looking, I searched the forehead scenario and the first post was a mom talking about her autistic child.  There it was again.  I clicked on the link and she mentioned her son also had a completely different issue: Sensory Processing Disorder.  The forehead example was what she specifically mentioned.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?  I'd never heard of it.  I started a new search and came upon this website and, more specifically, this symptoms checklist.  As I read the list, I teared up.  I was reading about my sweet Jude.  It was, on one hand, incredibly painful to realize he had this disorder.  It was also incredibly liberating.

The next day I sent Michael the checklist and he was stunned as well.  We ordered the book The Out-of-Sync Child and two days later it arrived.  The second I started reading the book, everything fell into place.  Jude is a sensory craver/seeker, which falls under the Sensory Modulation Disorder umbrella.  Before I made any appointments with an occupational therapist, I wanted to learn as much as I could about SPD so I would know how to answer the questions this time.  So I would fully understand (as best I could) what was going on in Jude's brain.

A week later, we had him evaluated by a speech therapist and an occupational therapist.  He didn't qualify for speech, which surprised me.  She told me he would qualify for occupational therapy and if for some reason he didn't, she would do everything she could to get him the help he needed because she didn't want him falling through the cracks.  I don't hug strangers but it took everything in my power not to hug this woman.  She mentioned he had so much going on inside his little head that speech was the last thing on his mind.  With proper therapy, she felt he would flourish in so many different areas, speech included.  Without therapy, he would continue down this path and become the "troublesome child" in school, all because no one knew any different.

At his occupational therapy evaluation it took the therapist exactly five minutes to let me know he qualified.  She told me about a great book I should read called The Out-of-Sync Child and I pulled it out of my bag.  She saw the ear markings and my scrawled writing all over the pages and smiled.  She recommended therapy twice a week (30 minutes per session) and I skipped out of the room.

Jude has attended twice now and received excellent reports both times.  We purchased a trampoline for our backyard and he jumps until his legs wear out.  When he presses his forehead against mine, I press right back so he can feel the pressure.  When he stands on his head, I ask him what I look like upside down instead of telling him to quit acting silly.  When he's with a lot of kids and starts bouncing off the walls, I take his hand and we leave the room so he can walk around while he has time to reset.

I don't want to tell you too much about SPD because it's so new to me and I'm scared I will say something wrong, but the purpose of this post is to shed some light for others who may not be familiar with it.  I so badly wish I'd known about it a year ago.

In less than a month, there has been a change in our house, especially in me.  Now, when he does something goofy, my head doesn't immediately go to, "Why does he do this?" and instead it's simply, "How can I help him?"  I'm slower to get frustrated and I know he senses that.  Communication (on both sides) has drastically improved.  It doesn't mean he's in charge - we still have rules and he finds himself in timeout regularly - but I now know his silly actions and antics aren't because he's trying to drive me crazy, it's because he NEEDS to get it out. For the first time in over a year, I feel like we have answers and are doing the absolute best for our son.

So we jump.  And we dance.  And we swing.

And we laugh.  And we hug.  And we play.

When I look at him, I no longer worry about him.  I'm excited for him.  And my tears, which come more often than ever, are full of joy.


katie said...

If I could just reach through the computer/phone and hug you I totally would! he is so lucky to have such amazing and encouraging parents and you are so lucky to have such a wonderful, happy and handsome little boy!

Rachel Riebe said...

So proud of you for searching out answers, seeking help, and not giving up. Grace to you and Jude as you help him succeed and grow!

Katie Pollard Photography said...

One of my favorite bloggers writes about this :) Her son is a little older now but they follow the same "regimens". He's doing amazing and is such a cool kid!

Aubrey said...

Oh Meredith! I'm completely in awe of you. To trust your instincts so thoroughly, persevere until you got some answers, and march down the path you know is right for Jude...WOW. Motherhood takes serious guts. Your beautiful, active boy is one lucky little dude.

elvadiane said...

I agree with a previous comment, I wish I could reach through and give you a big hug. I strongly believe us moms/dads have to listen to our gut instincts. Which can be hard bc we do sometimes are too close to see the whole picture, but most of the time I believe are instincts are pretty darn accurate! Our children are blessed to have parents who care as much as we do, and I just wish every child was fortunate to have a mom like you. Jude and Sloane are beautiful and even more so bc they will always have their parents in their corners!

Emily said...

Awesome story! Great to hear of the happy outcome, but still teared up (at work, no less) reading this. :)

Jenn said...

I am so happy for you, and for him. I want to give you both a big hug, because I know this is something you've worried about for a long time. Thank you for sharing your journey with him, and please continue to update as to how he's doing with his therapy. Great job, mama!

Julie Lanigan said...

My son is 3 and also has SPD. He receives OT 3x a week/30 min sessions and it has helped him immensely. Finally knowing what is going on with him has been such a relief bc now I can advocate for him and HELP him instead of grow impatient with him. My son is just likes your son....he NEEDS to move! They are smart, beautiful, loving children and I know they both have bright futures. Best of luck on your journey. Xo

Anonymous said...

99.9% of the time your mama instinct is right... My husband doesn't question it anymore!!! You're a great mom.

Anonymous said...

My nephew recently was diagnosed with SPD, dyspraxia (DCD), and ADHD. Getting a diagnosis opens up a whole world of possibilities, options, supports, and understanding! All things are possible! My sister also loved The Out of Sync Child...she also recommends the books Boy Without Instructions (Penny Williams) and Far from the Tree (Andrew Solomon). So many more great adventures are ahead for you guys! So glad you have such a great support system!

Anonymous said...

It's an incredible thing to get answers for the things you've been worrying about since they were tiny! I've worried about my son just like you...and in first grade we got a diagnosis- ADHD. He is so textbook ADHD it is almost funny. But like you said, I parent him with so much more grace now and feel like I finally understand him after 6 YEARS!! Better late than never. He is my sweet wild boy and I've never been more in love with him. Nodding to everything you said. Thank you for writing this!! - Katie

Merrie said...

I just came across your blog and loved this post! I am so pleased for you that you kept yourself open to understanding your boy until the answers finally came along. That's huge! I have a 14 year old son who is different in his own ways -- never diagnosed with anything, but I had to learn early on to recognize his strengths and weaknesses. We never give up advocating for our kids, and you probably have quite a road ahead, but it sounds like you're just the mom for the job. :) Thank you for sharing this!

PS I'm a Meredith, too! :)


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