This is difficult to write as we still aren’t sure of anything you are about to read. Plus, we never want to be labeled as THOSE parents or THAT boy. We also don’t want your pity or your advice. This is probably the one topic that I will write to get off my chest and hopefully help someone else who may be dealing with similar situations, but one that does not need a conversation around it directed to us. It’s is still too touchy, too new, and too hard to think about.
Aubrey has always been this crazy intelligent, hard to figure out boy. His first spoken word was a sentence as opposed to a word. I remember it clear as day, just as it was spoken like he had practiced it for days before actually saying it. He was 18 months old and we were in our old kitchen. He passed me his empty milk cup and said “I’m all done” and then walked away as if it were no big thing that we had just taken him to the doctors to seek out a speech therapist. From that day, we started noticing things. He had no interest in toys, preferring to play with screwdrivers and the vacuum. His obsession with vacuums became so severe that I started to google if any other parents had this issue and all that I could find were these massive forums for parents with Gifted children and vacuums.
In daycare, he struggled. They moved him up with kids 1+ years older than him just to keep him focused because if he isn’t learning or it’s too easy for him, he’s bored and starts to act out. 6 daycares later (the last being the worst) we applied to get him into the pre-primary class 20 mins away thinking that being in a ‘big boy school’ would help….it has a bit.
With all of this going on, last spring, we took him in to see a behavioral specialist. The Doctor, Rob, Aubrey and I were put in a small hospital exam room together, interviewed for 3+ hours while he watched how Aubrey behaved. Within that appointment, he could see signs of Anxiety, Autism, and ADHD, and gave us a pre-diagnosis. The thing is if you know him, he’s loveable, wanting to constantly hug, cuddle and kiss everyone, and outgoing which is nothing like most children diagnosed with Autism. He had a hard time switching subjects and is hard to get his attention, which isn’t like ADHD where they become easily distracted. But, he becomes obsessed with completing a task (autism) and his brain won’t allow him to stop until its done. When you try to stop that task, he becomes anxious and starts to panic (anxiety disorder). So for now, as we move through the steps to be diagnosed or not diagnosed with the public system here in Nova Scotia, we try to figure out our own ways of dealing with his triggers, while we teach him how to deal as well.
Working with his teachers, we have created open communication of all activities happening in school through a book. This allows us to chat with him about his actions so that he sees that just because we aren’t there, doesn’t mean rules go out the window. It has been working.
But, what we have noticed has made the biggest difference is the change in his diet. He has always been a picky eater, making food a touchy subject in our home. We had caved and just let him live off processed food, while his attitude and issues became worse. But with so much information out there about the correlation between gut health and Autism, we decided to dive in head first and make a change, no matter how many fights that may cause with him.
So what did we cut out? Gluten is known as a big trigger so we have been slowly cutting that back. Gone are chicken nuggets, sandwich meat, and pepperoni (those were the only meats we could get him to eat). He now eats a ton of fruit, carrots (we are working on more veggies), chicken that we have cooked and gluten-free crackers and cereal. We are allowing dairy for the time being, and have also added a daily multivitamin and have ordered a gummy probiotic for him to start taking as well. It has been 2 weeks with this change and the difference is shocking. He ate a hotdog the other day when we were out, and all of his ticks and mood swings came back with a vengeance, along with no sleep that night. It shows how much food makes an impact on our mental health and brain health.
This is all new to us. We have always called him a difficult boy because we don’t want labels. but its time to get it off our chest and let you know whats going on and if you have similar situations know that you are not alone and that we see you and we feel your stress and pain. Parenthood is such a guessing game. No-one really knows how to do it as every child is different. As long as you do everything in your power to make sure your little is living the best they can with the means that you have, that is all that matters.
Our biggest thing is to make sure at the end of a hard day, Aubrey knows that his outbursts and bad actions don’t make us love him less. He is loved so hard and has us to be his strength forever. He knows that, and to me, THAT is good parenting.