I will be the first one to admit that when I found out my child had learning disabilities, I thought it was poo-poo. I figured what the kid needed was just good ol' fashioned discipline. You know, take him behind the woodshed and give him what for. That will straighten out his attitude and behaviour.
No wonder it never seemed to work.
I used to say to him, "put your thinking cap on", "focus on what you're doing", "dude, what were you thinking?", "stop your daydreaming", "pay attention to whats going on" "do what you're told", "I told you already what I want you to do" "listen this time" "can't you follow instructions" and on and on it went.
No wonder it never seemed to work.
I watched his grades and conduct in school degrade shortly after kindergarten. I thought surely he will outgrow it.
Its just a phase.
Boys will be boys.
Then the temper tantrums, the screaming and being angry for no apparent reason.
The pinging off the walls when he was bored.
The hyper-focus of a tv show or obsession of internet games like Minecraft and Roblox.
Then came the doctors appointments, the evaluations, the testing, the other doctors appointments, the other evaluations, more testing, and on it went.
I won't deny that absolutely, I was skeptical about all of this. I thought that the boy was making alot of this up and using it as an excuse to be lazy, a smart alec, and to get out of trouble. You know kids these days.
I used to think, it was all in his head.
Then the diagnosis came. ADHD/ODD and an anxiety disorder. (Insert dramatic soap opera music here).
I thought to myself, "no wonder it never seemed to work".
Its not that I failed as a parent, its that my kid is crazy! Yes, that was my actual thought.
Don't judge me. I was ignorant.
I had no clue what ADHD was other than some one who couldn't hold a stream of conciousness together without being distracted by something shiny.
And ODD? Yeah I thougt he was a little odd at times. I had no idea it was Oppositional Defiance Disorder. What the heck is that?! That surely exlains some things!
Anxiety?! Who doesn't have anxiety from time to time? I didn't realize his was all the time.
I was a dad, who could not protect my kid from the unknown or unseen. I was a dad that couldn't fix my son or solve his problem this time.
I personally went through a few stages of grief myself. Shock and Disbelief were already present after the orignal diagnosis.
Denial came easy. "He'll grow out if it" I assured myself.
The Guilt stage passed and was more of a Hidden Shame stage anyway.
Slowly I came to terms that my kid just isn't the "typical" kid.
No, he has superpowers that other "typical" kids just don't have.
He has the ability to see colors more vibrant, hear all of the instruments being played in music, think faster, be more creative, dream bigger dreams, feel more emotions, have more passion, and on and on.
Getting him diagnosed and finding strategies to help manage these disorders was the best thing that we as parents ever did for the boy.
Getting him the medication he needed to help him "focus his powers and use them for good" was a monumental help.
Getting him an education plan within the school system that addresses his disabilities was a huge factor in getting him the accomodations he needed. Now he has the same chance at success in gaining an appropriate education that kids without disabilities have.
But do you know what the number one factor was in changing the course, outcomes and emotions in the household?
Getting involved as a dad.
Getting educated about my son's disorders.
Getting to know him on his terms and not my own.
Learning how I can best help him develop and grow through the use of strategies, interventions, and attaing goals relative to his abilities.
Yes my son has a few hidden disabilities that we struggle through. But he is the very same boy we loved and cherished the day before his diagnosis.
His diagnosis didn't change who he was nor do they define him as a person.
Oh it aint sunshine and roses and unicorns riding rainbows all the time now.
Far from it. At times its turmoil, exhaustion, lots of discipline and some frustration.
But we continue the strategies and hard work that it takes to get through it. Because we love him and want whats best for him.
I could care less how he compares to the neighbor's kid or how my peers may look at me because I have a kid that needs special education services.
You see, my kid can still do all the things your kid can do.
I'm just really glad that he's no longer "typical".