Sometimes Everything Isn’t Okay

I don’t have a keyword or an image for this post.  It might be a little bit of whining.  Feel free to skip it.  Or don’t.

I’m beyond frustrated.  I hurt.  I wonder how much of it’s my fault.

I went to visit my son’s speech pathologist today while he was in preschool.  We were having a visit because my son’s preschool provider brought up some concerns last month.  She hinted at autistic spectrum disorder… even though she, of course, could not actually suggest that.  It’s outside the scope of a preschool provider’s early childhood education degree to diagnose or even suggest.

When autistic spectrum was even hinted at, I was crushed.

The simple fact of the matter is that, yes, Norton can be an absolutely maddening and frustrating child.  But I’ve always thought that if he’s misbehaving, acting out, or is difficult to manage, that it’s a parenting issue.  If I were a better parent, it wouldn’t be like that.

I’ve been quite certain for the last three years that any difficulty I have with Norton is my fault.

I don’t see these signs that the preschool is concerned about when we’re home.  His speech pathologist doesn’t see them when he’s in the language delay play group.

I don’t care about a label.  Or, more specifically, I don’t like the idea of this label being applied… but any label will not change who my son is.  He is still Norton, regardless.  He is still my baby boy.

He’s not stupid, or somehow mentally deficient.  He knows his letters and his phonics.  He taught himself letters and numbers in French and English with a toy, for Pete sake.  We’re doing sight words.  He can count.  He’s showing some pretty creative thinking.

But he’s difficult.  How much of his difficulty is being three, being smart, or being different is beyond me.  How much of his lack of interaction with his peers is because he’s self-aware enough to recognize that he’s not completely like them or because he’s a natural introvert like his father is unclear.  How much of his being difficult is because I’m doing something wrong is also up in the air.

He’s being referred for assessment.  It can take six to nine months for it to happen after the referral is submitted.  In the meantime, all that I can do is just keep on trying.

How does one cope with the knowledge that their children are different?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. First of all Hugs! Much of what you are going through is similar to what I went through with my now 7 year old. Only it was his speech therapist that hinted at Autism spectrum. Having taught special ed for 9 years I knew that wasn’t the case. He is a thriving 7 year old that although can be difficult at times has changed and matured some since that time. Many things going on at that time made his behavior a little harder to handle but none had to do with what she suggested. We just need to move on and do our best to give our children the building blocks needed to move forward and not worry about labels or what not. It was interesting when I went to college and a professor mentioned that we all have Autistic like tendencies, the question is how we suppress them or not. Boys in essence are immature and take longer to “grasp and behave” the way they should. Stay strong and move on. Hugs!

  2. I’m sorry you and your family are going through this. If only his preschool teachers are concerned, I guess I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Maybe try to see what in the situation at preschool is so different that he is exhibiting different behaviors there. Does he fall at either one end of the age range or the other? I know with Maggie that when she is the oldest in a group, her behavior is extremely different than when she is the younger one in the group.

    Just keep focusing on his strengths and the things about him that bring you joy. Whether he is diagnosed with something like Autism Spectrum or not, it will be something that you will have to deal with as it comes up. Try hard not to stress about it Suzi. He is your sweet little boy and any diagnosis won’t change any of that.

    I know I have no words of wisdom or advice to really offer you. I will pray for you and your family. I have no experience, but if autism spectrum is what is going on, programs have come a long way to offer help. Good luck! You are a great mom and doing what you feel is best. You can only guide him. He has to make his choices, good or bad, and you can help him learn from them.
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  3. I have been struggling with this too. One of my boys is 8 and he has always been on the difficult side in school. Every year the teachers and I work out a strategy to keep him focused and on task. Last year his teacher finally told me at the end of the year that maybe he should be evaluated and the school counselor and her did an “unofficial” assessment which was basically her keeping track of certain behaviors for a week. He just scored into significant for ADHD. I did a lot of reading over the summer and while I felt he fit into the category somewhat, I didn’t think he was severe enough. But I also want to get him the help he needs. This year at parent teacher conference the teacher told me he is great, as long as she keeps his desk alone. He is off the charts in reading and math. She thinks he has trouble fitting in with his peers because he is so smart. I am not really sure where to go with this.

    • I had those same problems with my teenager when he was young. Eventually, his grades did suffer, he started getting in trouble, and the whole family was at their wits’ end. The only amazing thing that I can say about that whole rough time was that he met a girl in 8th grade and she put up with a lot of his shenanigans. He always treated her well, though, so she was more tolerant of the other garbage. He did end up on ADHD meds (while I was kicking and screaming). Then, suddenly, his grades picked up. He ended up on honor roll, started taking a full course load of honors and AP courses, and started making plans for going pre-med.

      He’s in eleventh grade now. He’s doing amazingly well. And that girlfriend that he met in 8th grade? They’re still going strong. He’s convinced that he’s in love with her and will be with her forever. Considering they met at the same age my in-laws did… well, I’m not going to deny that possibility.

  4. That is so hard. 6-9 months! I can’t imagine not knowing for that long. I am so sorry, thinking of your family.

  5. I could have written this. K is the same way. He is very difficult and throws multiple tantrums a day. By the time he goes to bed at night, I’m beat down. He spoke late (as did his older brother), has no interest in potty training, following directions, etc and is now suddenly showing some signs of sensory issues (plugging his ears all the time, freaking out over seemingly silly things). I also feel like I’m failing him but you can’t beat yourself up (nor can I). I think some children are just difficult. At least I hope that’s all it is, but if it’s not then you will face the challenge head on because that’s what moms do. My oldest has ADHD and he is maddening at times too but I deal with it, help him the best way I can and hope that in time he will mature more and will be more like his peers as he approaches adulthood.
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  6. We’ve talked about this, so you know what my general opinion on the whole thing is.

    But I don’t think I said this: NOT YOUR FAULT. Kids go through difficult stages, it’s part of being unable to articulate themselves adequately. Regardless of what the endgame here is, you’re not doing anything wrong. In fact, that you are concerned you are is probably proof enough that you aren’t doing anything wrong – recent studies show that it’s only overachievers that worry about inadequacy.

  7. I think every parent asks those questions – what is nature and what is nurture? What is “normal” childhood development and what is a different type of challenge or concern. I don’t have any wise words, except I think that resisting the need for labels is a great attitude, especially since you are already working on speech and clearly open to helping meet his needs outside of the traditional classroom. Whatever the diagnosis, I hate to see you placing so much blame or emphasis on your perceived failings. ((hugs))
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  8. Our new pediatrician referred us to Early Intervention because she thought that my son had a speech delay (because he didn’t fit into the checklist what was on her computer screen). Not wanting my child to be behind, we went ahead with EI…only to find that, shocker, our little guy is WAY advanced cognitively and socially. He had developed his own system of nonverbal communication, which I understood, and therefore didn’t use words (he didn’t need to with me around anticipating his needs). I implemented a few of the things suggested and BAM, he had a language explosion a week later! The kiddo is WAY ahead of the other kids in his storytime group verbally, and never stops talking. All of this is to say that kiddos with high IQs tend to do things their own way, in their own time. My kiddo amazes me every day with the little nuances he sees in the world, instead of what is right in front of his face. Is he different, yes, but I love being amazed by what his bright little mind picks up and sees in the world.
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  9. Oh……I’ve had so many moments (or should I say months and months and months?) like this as a mother, so you can be assured of my thoughts and prayers, Suzi. Sounds to me like Spencer is extremely intelligent and confident. And not all three year olds interact socially in the same way. Viva la difference, right?? As for his difficult behavior… sounds like you’re mama instinct is acknowledging that maybe methodology is largely to blame. If so….excellent….because that’s something within your control as a parent. Try to focus on that, instead of any anxieties you might have right now. I know it’s difficult, and I’m here to chat if you’d like to bounce some ideas off me. Toddlers are challenging, but over the years I’ve learned a lot and it’s now my favorite age. Not “terrible” at all!
    Anne Sweden recently posted…Homeschooling and Dealing with Bad AttitudesMy Profile

    • At home, we have problems with headbutting. 🙁 He doesn’t do that at school.

      At school, he doesn’t want to interact with his peers. If someone is upset/crying, it gets his attention and he attempts to comfort, but otherwise? None. He’s happy to just play with the same toy in a corner the whole time he’s there. I wonder if that’s because he perceives that he’s different. After all, last spring on the way to a field trip, a little girl had pointed Norton out to her mother and said, “That’s Norton. He’s weird. He doesn’t use many words.” Her mother, of course, responded in the best way possible to shut that down, but Norton heard it. He also doesn’t make eye contact with people there and has no problems with ignoring anyone.

      Or maybe he’s naturally introverted like his dad.

      At speech playgroup (which Norton calls “blue school” because it’s in a blue building), he’s just fine with interacting with the other kids. B, the speech pathologist, sees *none* of the behaviors and was rather shocked at what the preschool filled out in their assessment form.

      I don’t know. None of us sees the same things.

  10. Nortion is INTROVERTED. Check out the book ‘Quiet.’ As the author explains, introverts do not fit into an extroverted culture like ours, which makes extroverts uncomfortable. Thus all the labels of introverts as having disorders.

    I, myself, am highly introverted. I do not like to make eye contact with people. I prefer to do things by myself. I DO NOT have ADS. I am just introverted.

    What strikes me the most is this comment: “At school, he doesn’t want to interact with his peers. If someone is upset/crying, it gets his attention and he attempts to comfort, but otherwise? None.” Individuals with ADS have trouble understanding emotion. Norton obviously is attuned to emotions. He just prefers to be by himself. Introvert!

    Figure out the best way to harness that introversion for Norton’s needs. That sounds like your best best, not an erroneous ADS diagnosis.
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  11. Eh, he’s just being Norton. Just because he doesn’t fit into someone’s definition of what a three old boy should be like doesn’t mean that something is wrong with him. My six year old (oh my God he’s going to be seven next month!) could always be perceived as being a little odd. He used to carry around hands full of string or paper when he was a toddler (I guess he found it comforting). He didn’t start talking until he was a year and a half, but as soon as he started speech therapy, he took off. He doesn’t like loud noises. He has problems with his ears. This year, in first grade, he’s having problems keeping up with the schoolwork, which I think is mostly because of his hearing problems. My point is that you know your child better than his teachers and therapists. People are too quick to slap a label on others, especially if they think they’re different. And yep, my oldest is absolutely maddening to deal with sometimes! Hang in there!
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  12. I would seek out a second opinion before attaching a label to my child. It is possible that he is just going through a phase where he is acting out because he gets attention that way. Good luck.
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  13. Hang in there mama. It’s unfortunate that it’s going to take so long to get a more accurate assessment, but hopefully that will put your fears at ease. From what you said, it sounds like your son is a very bright, independent thinker. I would venture to say that it doesn’t sound like your son has ASD, but even if he does, so what? You take that information and do what you can to help him live with it.

  14. Suzi, I would have to agree with Heather that ASD is very unlikely, especially if he is more social in his smaller SL class. I think people are too willing to label, though I do understand that in most cases early intervention is best. I feel confident that after the qualified personal will find no issue with Norton. Hugs and try not to worry.

  15. When my oldest was in Kindergarten and first grade, he was also very difficult…He was very easily distracted and did not follow directions. His social skills were also horribly lacking. Sadly, his teachers were not very understanding and they did not know how to deal with him. They hinted at autism or ADHD. So they did a child study over the course of those 2 years and came to the conclusion that he was totally normal, but just a pain in the rear sometimes. Hang in there! Everything will be okay, and it’s not your fault!
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