In my ever-present soul searching for how-the-heck-did-I-miss-Tate’s-Autism-in-the-beginning, one of the biggest things that haunts me is the anxiety. The all-consuming, life-altering, with-us-every-moment anxiety. Seriously…why didn’t I get the big ‘ol lightbulb then? Hmm?
Tate has been anxious since birth…pretty much. In fact, when we were told he was breech and I was doing my research on breech babies and getting them to turn in preparation for an old-fashioned “v” delivery, one thing that stood out is that maybe the fetus, yes, the fetus, was experiencing anxiety…either as its own self or as an extension of its momma. (And, well, I am a Type-A person who does harbor some anxieties…so, I guess I am to blame there…)
So much of his life is run by this intangible, yet VERY present emotion. Many of his behaviors stem from the battle with anxiety. He wakes up in the middle of the night. He cannot fall back asleep because he is ANXIOUS about being up in the first place. He knows (yes, even though kids on the spectrum are not aware of others’ feelings 100% of the time) this poor kids KNOWS how frustrated we are that he’s up AGAIN…and that anxiety ratchets upward.
Like so many other children with ASD, Tate has ADHD. He gets anxiety over not being able to pay attention. Or over not being able to focus. He is a smart cookie and knows that he needs to pay attention and focus…but he.just.can’t. The members of his team of therapists and educators see this all of the time. So, when the ugly anxiety starts, the poor kid cannot get it together. It’s like we’ve lost him before we’ve even had a chance to begin.
Then there’s the social anxiety. Oy, the social anxiety! He WANTS to play with other kids. He knows he’s SUPPOSED to want to play with other kids. So he will approach a group…and he just doesn’t know what to do. Better yet, he gets there, and cannot focus enough to ask the other children what they are doing/can he play too/introduce himself, etc. And there it is again, the anxiety beast. It grips him in the biggest strongest clutches and won’t let go.
It doesn’t seem fair that this young boy, only FIVE, has so many obstacles to overcome…but overcome he will. One by one…little by little. I have hope…loads of hope as we see small gains thanks to dedicated teachers, therapists, friends and family. For now we wait…
Hubz and I know that at some point we will likely have to make a decision as to whether to medicate for this condition or not. A few weeks ago we made a decision to medicate for the ADHD, choosing a medication that does not have a high likelihood of driving the anxiety up through the roof. (So many ADHD meds do..) We are seeing some positive gains with the new meds…so hopefully we can avoid another dosage of something else for a short while as we address the ADHD, which was most effecting learning and cognitive growth.