Saturday, May 28, 2011

Anxiety abounds

Now that Hassaan's meds have allowed him to have the self control to keep his behaviour in check with a little reminder here and there, an issue that was already there has come to the forefront tenfold.  Anxiety.

Anxiety in a nearly six year old isn't fun.  I will say right now - I will not be putting him on medication for this.  I do not want him on more meds than he is already on.  But when we go to the doctor again early in June I will be asking for a referral to a therapist.

Hassaan's anxiety issues are, to say the least, challenging.  Just stating that we will be leaving the house is enough to set him off, even if he's given half an hour warning.  Too much warning and it creates chaos.  Too little warning and you end up having to carry him from the house.  But even with what should be enough warning and reminders that he'll be leaving it still can end up with him having to be carried out of the house.  Unfortunately, there are still times that he still needs to be carried out kicking and screaming.

He and I (alone) went to the area's multicultural festival the other night.  Hammad had the privilege of going taken away after kicking his brother in the stomach.  So as he and I were stuck in traffic (the irony of being stuck in traffic in the middle of nowhere was not - and is not - lost on me.  Construction on a two lane highway that has not been expanded to create a third lane meant that it took half an hour to make a drive that normally takes me ten minutes).  Anyway, as he and I were stuck in traffic, I asked him "why do you get so upset whenever we have to leave the house?"  And he point blank answered me - "because I'm scared because I don't know what is going to happen when I leave the house, so I don't want to leave the house because I don't feel safe."

Hassaan has always had an above average vocabulary and way of speaking.  He never did the one or two word sentences, but full sentences.  And though for awhile his words didn't make sense, it was his diction, not his use of them.  As the speech therapist said - his speech patterns (use of "th" or "s" or "r" mostly) were completely age appropriate.  His vocabulary, however, was about four years about him and to some degree still is.  So when he says things like this, he truly means it and he knows what he's saying.  On one hand, I'm grateful that, many times, he can express himself enough that I have some idea of what is going on.  On the other, there are days that I wonder "why did I want him to start talking?  Please child, a few moments of silence!"

I wish that Hassaan's life wasn't so difficult.  This is, for all intents and purposes, his own person jihad, and I will do whatever it is that I can to help him overcome it.  But it is going to be a very long (and difficult) road.  I look at Hammad and see how easy he's got it and how easy everything comes to him and I wish that there was just a little of that for Hassaan.  But I love my boys and nothing will ever change that.  Anxiety and all.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Uncertainty and stress

Another school year is almost at an end.  Here, we don't finish until the very end of June, so we have about five and a half weeks left.  And while many parents dread the end of a school year due to summer childcare issues when you have kids young enough to need that, others, like myself, dread the end of the school year for an entirely different reason.

The end of the school year is hard because, if you've had a good teacher that year, you've gotten into a routine where you trust the teacher and the teacher trusts that you're going to let them know if your child is having a bad day before they even get to school so that they can do what they can to head them off at the pass to keep from making an already bad day disastrous.  The child trusts the teacher and might have actually had an enjoyable year - not something that a special needs kid always has.

And so now we're at the end of the year.  This year has been an interesting one.  The teacher that Hassaan originally had ended up having to go off on leave in March. He had a succession of other teachers which is always hard on the kids, but to the kids that don't function when there is no set routine it creates an entirely different set of problems.  When you don't know who's going to be your teacher that day, just getting the child on the bus can be problematic.  Finally, Hassaan's teacher was replaced with a long term supply teacher through the end of the year.  We were incredibly fortunate that the teacher is, in many respects, much like his original teacher.  Firm, routine and structure oriented, and very patient.  So all in all, the year has gone fairly well.  But it's not the end of the current year that is the problem. The problem is when you look at next year.

It is always frustrating and stressful that you can't and won't know who your child has until the first day of school.  I know that it's pretty much down between two teachers for next year. One I know very little about, though I do know a couple of people had issues - though they were more with comparisons with the other teacher than anything else. The other teacher Hammad has this year.  She was also my teacher way back when.  I really like her. However, while she is structured, I don't believe that she has the patience needed to work with Hassaan.  Maybe she does and I just haven't seen it with Hammad.  But Hammad did need what his teacher gave him - a really firm push with consequences for his actions.  Or rather, consequences for his lack of actions.

So now I, like many other parents, will spend the summer fretting and stressing about the next school year, about the entire month of September - if not longer - that it takes to transition back into school, and even then, if the child and teacher and compatible, an eternally long year.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What happens in the bathroom, stays in the bathroom

Our house is so small that when it's humid and the dryer is on, the bathroom mirror steams up.  One evening, I walked into the bathroom to find Hassaan drawing his name on the mirror.  He then starts to draw a picture.  When I ask what he's drawing, Hammad apparently knows because he starts giggling hysterically.  Hassaan, it turns out, is drawing a picture of his butt in the steam on the wall to wall mirror. 

I called to Abdullah and told him to get his child off the counter and get his teeth brushed.  So what did Abdullah do? Abdullah taught him (and his brother) how to turn around and actually press his butt on the mirror instead of just drawing it. *sigh*

There is waaaaaaaaaay too much testosterone in this house some days.

My son the drama queen

Hassaan (having temper tantrum): "I HAVE TO GO PEE!!!! I'm gonna pee my pants!!!" 

Me (calmly, trying not to roll my eyes): "You're in the bathroom."

Hassaan: "I HAVE TO PEE!!!" (now has no pants on) "I can't hold it and I'll pee on the floor!!!!"

Me: "You're in. the. bathroom."

Hassaan (crying & screaming): "I HAVE TO PEE!!!!"

Me: "Turn around Hassaan. You're standing in front of the toilet."

Hassaan (calmly): "Oh."


So Hassaan and Hammad gave Abdullah the game "Battleship" for his birthday earlier this week.  Because the boys are still a bit young to do it on their own, we play in teams.  Today was Abdullah and Hammad versus Hassaan and myself.  Part of this is because, after a certain point, sometimes Hassaan is just done playing, so he'll just get up and leave.  Not too helpful in a two player game.  Well, he did this during this afternoon's game.

A few minutes after deciding he was done playing Hassaan decided he was no longer done playing and came back over and sat down next to me.  He then pointed to the board.  And so began what turned into the funniest thing all day.

Hassaan: "You have to do this one and this one" (pointing to two squares on the board)

Me: "why?"

Hassaan: "well, when I was walking past, i saw their boats there and there."

Me: starts laughing so hard I end up crying during this, Abdullah is trying to explain to Hassaan how this is cheating.  Hassaan just keeps saying "well, I just walked by.  I didn't really look.  I was walking by and saw it out of the corner of my eyes, because I had to walk past your side to get back over here.  And I couldn't stop laughing.

Let's just say the next game of Battleship will have Hassaan sitting on that side of the table in case he decides to quit and come back again!

Letting the cat out

So now that all the paperwork is in and done, I can say what's been going on for the past few months.

In March, after much thought, we started Hassaan on the most minimal dose of Adderall that he can be on.  The changes, as the teacher that filled out his secondary Connor's Scale report stated, are amazing.  Because his normal classroom teacher has been on sick leave for the last two months, his Junior Kindergarten teacher, who got Hassaan at his most challenging last year, we in for a few weeks as the supply teacher.  She filled out the new, post-meds, Connor's Scale and Hassaan's scores went from 3s and 4s to 0s and 1s. Alhamdulillah that it's working and Hassaan's now able to be a full, co-operative, participant in his classroom.  His supply teachers have told other teachers (including my mother) that he's been so good and co-operative.  Two words never applied to Hassaan in the last year and a half.  I'm not a pusher of medication.  In fact, it took a lot of thought and prayer before Abdullah and I agreed on medication.  And I do believe in working together with the paediatrician and psychologist.  However, unfortunately, until my workplace contract is settled and my benefits are actually in stone (or as stone as they are going to be) to cover the rather expensive psychologist.

Rage episodes in the evenings have all but stopped.  His teachers say that the other kids are now choosing to play with Hassaan rather than ignoring him altogether.  Hassaan, however, still pretty much ignores them, but his behaviour no longer pushes them away.

As his mom, I'm not entirely thrilled he's on medication. But I am happy that, for at least the time being, Hassaan's life has gotten just a bit easier and the real Hassaan has the chance to shine through :)