I just took my six-year-old son to the doctor. He’s a beautiful boy, all lengthening arms and getting-ganglier legs.
He is the picture of health.
I sat there in the doctor’s office and cried while the doctor told me I was right in bringing him in and sharing our concerns. “Lots of parents are in denial about kids’ odd behavior. They figure they’ll just outgrow it, but that rarely happens in these kinds of situations.”
“But why do we suddenly have all of these new diagnoses? I mean, it seems like everyone has a diagnosis. What did kids 50 years ago with these problems do?”
“I’ll tell you what they did 50 years ago. They learned to self-medicate. They found things that worked, and by adulthood, that odd janitor who didn’t really have any friends would go home and drink a 12-pack a night. We’re better able to diagnose now than we used to be.”
I started crying again, and Asher came back in the room and looked at me, curious about the tears, and I told him I loved him. Oh, how I love him. My heart aches with my love for him.
Asher has always screamed bloody murder when it’s bath time, or when he’s going to get a hair cut. BLOODY. MURDER. Drooling all over the place; there’s no consoling him. Something inside him shuts down and I can’t reach him.
I hate those times when I can’t reach him, and they’re becoming more often and it terrifies me.
He rarely, if ever, speaks when he’s in large groups of people. He absolutely falls apart if there is a change in our schedule. Absolutely and completely falls apart.
When two people are talking over each other, he’ll put his hands over his ears and scream, “It’s too loud!!” and then a tantrum ensues. I can’t get him out of it.
Sometimes I’ll come into the room and start to talk to him, and when he doesn’t respond I just chalk it up to his not wanting to listen to me because I’m his mom.
His teacher, last fall: “Something is very different about him, and the earlier we get it checked out, the better.”
My husband describes him as always “on edge” even though, on the outside at least, he looks perfectly content and relaxed.
A mother in denial and a calm-looking, beautiful child: the perfect recipe for having severe anxiety/sensory processing issues overlooked.
I guess I’ve always known something was maybe amiss but honestly…
I didn’t want to know.
There. I said it.
I didn’t want to know.
I mean, it’s totally normal to drive by the school playground and see one little figure in an orange jacket wandering around playing with nobody, right?
My little boy has a huge heart. Huge. He is adventurous and he sees the beauty in everything. He never wants to be far from his Mama and he can create a cube out of a piece of scratch paper in one minute flat. He can organize his entire room (including the furniture) in his head, and wouldn’t you know that once he’s done actually directing me to move said furniture, his plans worked out.
I ache for my boy, I ache ache ache for him, because I know how isolating growing up with anxiety and OCD is. I would take that from him in a heartbeat if I could, or if I knew how. I don’t know how. I can’t. I am afraid of tests and play therapies and diagnoses.
I’m more afraid of his getting to a place where we can’t reach him at all.
Maybe I am a horrible mother who needs to be put out to pasture with the rest of the crappy mothers, eating vegetation and getting fat on my own parenting mishaps for the rest of my life. I’d be contributing to the greenhouse gas problem but not really caring, because not really caring was the reason I was put out to pasture in the first place.
Or maybe I’m just a mom, doing the best I can.
Maybe “the best I can” means staring into the spotlight, all boneless and afraid of hearing answers I don’t want to hear.
Maybe “the best I can” means, even though I’m afraid, dialing that number scratched out on a post-it note.
Maybe “the best I can” means clearing the tears out of my throat when the other end of the line picks up, stating my name and doing what is right by our boy.
This article was originally published on