For about a year now Joshua has really been struggling. This time last year he refused to go to school because he was so terrified of a fire drill they had at school. We ended up pulling him out of school for the rest of the year and beginning therapy and medication for anxiety. The summer brought other unwanted behaviors of intentionally soiling his bed and room, and also destruction of everything around him. He began tearing up his clothing and possessions. This fall we were able to go back to public school and repeat Kindergarten. We have known since he was born that he was behind in his milestones. We hoped he would catch up and did hours and hours of physical, speech and occupational therapy to help him. When he began school last year, the school did a psychological evaluation and we had one done just shortly before that over the summer. The school psychologist said his IQ was borderline, between normal and disabled. The private psychologist painted a more serious picture. He estimated his IQ at moderately disabled. We weren’t sure which was more accurate. They have a hard time getting an accurate IQ on a child until they are around age 8. So, again we hoped he would catch up, but we knew something just wasn’t right. This year as he began school he was given lots of help with a special teacher in hopes that he would catch up. He hasn’t. He has made progress but very slowly and all the while the tantrums and destructive behavior have been getting worse.
Yesterday we had an appointment with his developmental pediatrician. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a pediatrician that deals exclusively with kids with special needs or behavioral issues. We have been seeing him with Joshua for about 5 years. I decided I needed to have the hard conversation about Joshua’s future. We have danced around this issue for far too long and we needed answers to be able to move forward. So, I asked the doctor where he thought Joshua would be long term and where we should place him next year for school. He felt that Joshua has mild to moderate intellectual disability and that he should be placed in a self contained class next year. That is a special class just for kids with intellectual disability or autism. We knew in our hearts this was what he would say, but we’d never really asked straight out. Honestly, it’s a relief to hear. We can now accept the reality of our situation and move forward. You cannot deal with what you don’t acknowledge. So, we will move forward with trying to get him placed in a special class for next year and accept that his future may not be what we had hoped for, but we will make it the best we can be.
As for the destructive behaviors which have become a huge issue at our house. The doctor did a special DNA test on Joshua which will tell him what medications will best work with his unique DNA. It is fascinating that they can do such a test. We have tried lots of different medications on Joshua to help with his ADHD and anxiety but haven’t found one that really helps. So this will tell us. Meanwhile, we will continue on as we are. We will accept that he has a need to destroy things and give him things that are appropriate to destroy. The doctor said he is on the level of a two year old right now, which is what we had been seeing at home. Again, not really what we wanted to hear, but at the same time we will have more peace in our house if we adjust our expectations of Josh to what he is capable of. We were fighting this destructiveness and it was causing lots of conflict. Now we will just try to manage it in a healthy way and give him constructive outlets for his destructiveness. And along the way we may be changing his medications as a result of this DNA test and hopefully that might help as well.
Overall, we are at peace about it. We knew this was coming for years now, just didn’t know where exactly we would end up. We will move forward and accept where we are. We will grieve for what might have been but then pick ourselves up and live in what is. That is all we can do.