If you know us in real life, you know that our youngest son, Jackson, is a unique fella. He’s happy, giggly, and thinks the best of everyone. He’s sharp, affectionate, and a ferocious reader. In his dreams, he is a superhero.
He’s also in a world of his own, so much that Chuck and I decided that we needed some outside help with adjusting our parenting style. A handful of evaluations later, the psychologist confirmed what we already knew. Jackson has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is on the Autism Spectrum – both mild but “clinically significant.”
To be clear, this diagnosis is not upsetting. We’ve known from the very beginning that this kiddo is one of a kind. Along the way he’s had early intervention and other accommodations to keep him flourishing. We think carefully before involving him in one activity or another and take the extra step to make sure he’s safe in places where he’s not necessarily paying attention (large crowds, parking lots…). However, in the last year or so there have been areas of Jackson’s behavior that leave us baffled. We simply don’t know how to respond, such as when he’s physically attacked someone, going from Happy Jack to Hulk Mode in a nanosecond because his impulsivity took charge. We know he’s overwhelmed in certain situations but we’re not always sure how handle the come-down.
So we sought help. As I explained to the psychologist during the consultation, I’m not looking for labels. Beyond this post, it’s likely I won’t mention them again. All kids are unique, some more than others, and we all have to do our best with the resources we have. For us, that means modeling appropriate social interactions and enhancing predictability in certain areas of daily living. It means keeping our cool and remembering that Jackson is already functioning at a high stress level.
We have a 30-page report detailing Jackson’s evaluation results along with recommendations on how to help him, which is exactly what I was looking for. Now we have a deeper understanding of the inner workings of Jackson’s brain. Sure, he snaps his fingers and flaps his arms and has an emotional outburst now and again, but he’s also extraordinarily creative and unfailingly affectionate. He wants to jump in with other kids, even if he doesn’t fully understand how to interact with them. His heart is big, and so are his efforts.
I suppose that’s all there is to say on the matter, so I’ll end this post with the haiku Jackson wrote this morning:
Ultron has come down
but the Avengers are here
they will save us all.