Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Searching for the Rooster

I've been reading blogs for weeks now, and I think that what I've really been doing is searching for the rooster to show up in one of them, or maybe I've been searching for myself. Of course, we haven't shown up in any of them, because most people like us probably have the good sense not to advertise themselves; we are a wreck, and I must be masochistic to be telling you this. In fact, stop reading this right now. Please, I'm begging you. I am not writing for YOU, anyway, unless you are me, looking for your rooster to show up in a blog, or maybe you are me searching for yourself.

Suddenly, belatedly, it hit me today that maybe if I wanted to find myself in a blog, I should write one.

In most situations, I am a pretty outstanding searcher, particularly of the Internet. I found my husband online, no less. (Also, I planned our out-of-town wedding online, and found our first place together, our first house, several Craigslist furniture gems; did I mention I got my Master's Degree online and may have located Amelia Earhart? Well, okay, the Amelia part I made up, but if I find her I'll use Google Earth to make you a map -- I'm all about the Web resources, since that Master's Degree I really did get online was in educational technology.)

But when I go looking for the rooster online, I'm at a disadvantage because I have no key words that fit just right. I've looked for him and seen his close cousins in Autismland, I've searched high and low among kin in territories of PDD-NOS, ADD ... I even scoped out something called ODD, and while the acronym and the words that comprise it sound like ones I use to describe my guy, when I read on, once again, I feel like we're a little out of place there, too.

ODD is Oppositional Defiant Disorder. For a kid with a language delay, he mastered the word NO right on time, and it continues to be his favorite refrain. He hits, pushes, screams, refuses, argues, resists -- often. But does he have a disorder of defiance? I think you'll need to check back with me when he hits his teens, but for now I'm going to say it isn't a clear fit. The rooster also shares, hugs, kisses, jokes, laughs, plays, imagines, cheers, compromises, helps, apologizes -- sometimes. When it comes to autism, I am no expert at all; before the rooster was born, I only knew of core autism, and the autistic brother of my friend had no language whatsoever. Our rooster clearly does have language. Sometimes it's "scripts," where he repeats what he's heard in a story, but usually the "script" is invisible, because what he is saying fits the situation. Only after rooster's developmental difficulties did I -- A TEACHER, no less -- set out to educate myself more about the spectrum, and scripting is something that fits on that spectrum - along with never sleeping (until we recently discovered Melatonin - hurray!), difficulty with transitions, social awkwardness, and getting stuck on certain topics. On the other hand, our rooster doesn't have some of the other clear red flags, like he doesn't line things up, require strict routines, have aversions to loud noises, avoid eye contact, flap his arms, spin around, use an unusual speaking voice, stay away from other kids, have particular requirements about his clothes, obsess about trains, freak out in public. He did, though, struggle to learn how to ask and answer questions, have trouble with pronouns... so I have no idea. He definitely has pragmatic language deficits and poor behavior at school. His teachers feel like he needs one of them with him all the time. Circle time? A nightmare. It could well be that the rooster is "on the spectrum." We have an appointment with a developmental pediatrician next month to find out.

I don't even know if the label matters much or not, except in terms of the resources it might bring with it. I just know that I've been searching, and searching, and searching... thinking to myself that if I can find someone else like the rooster, maybe I can learn from his or her story. Maybe I can invite him or her over for a play date. Maybe his or her parents can teach me how to survive, and with a sense of humor. Maybe we can have a little more sense of community, instead of too often hunkering down in our home, exhausted, scared, overwhelmed, unsure, unsteady, alone. Already I've felt less isolated with each blog I've read by parents, like me, trying to find their way. The worst thing I've learned from the blogs of moms I've read this month is this: everyone is nicer than I am, and more patient, and stronger. I'm trying to learn from your examples, you moms who go before me, but sometimes, as the rooster knows, the birds eat the bread crumbs.

I don't know who my son, the rooster, is exactly. Neither do his teachers or his doctors, of which he has a zillion. (I don't think he's been healthy and well for longer than a couple days at a time since he was three months old, and surely that can't help a child's development.) We love our rooster, we enjoy him whenever we can, but we don't know exactly who he is inside those gorgeous eyes and under that thick blonde mop. So, I am now doing what I usually do when the resources on hand come up empty - I am broadening my scope, and seeking out community on the Internet.

I have a strong suspicion that if I write about the rooster, someone reading it will help me figure things out a little better than I have so far. And I won't even rule out the possibility that I will be that someone.


tulipmom said...

"The worst thing I've learned from the blogs of moms I've read this month is this: everyone is nicer than I am, and more patient, and stronger."

I know this feeling, this feeling that everyone else is doing a much better job at it than I am. You're not alone.

Joeymom said...

Your little guy may have something my little guys get... frustration. With the other issues of communication, trying to get control of himself and his world, there is a whole lot of frustration running around. As issues get addressed, the frustration goes down, the "no"s slow up.

And its not my autistic buddy that has the worst time with this- its my other little guy, the "neurotypical" one. With his sensory issues, he's on edge most of the time. Going through life perpetually out-of-sorts can make one kinda crabby.

Of course, that would explain why I'm crabby. ;)

Jordan said...

I'm in agreement with joeymom. As an SLP, I can say for sure that kids with communication challenges and sensory challenges can be incredibly frustrated. The world is unpredictable and confusing very often and this would make any of us crabby. I hope this defiance or frustration or whatever it should be called will subside with improvements in other areas. My fingers are crossed for you.