Aspergers Syndrome Corner 2 is the second part of Dawn's Story. In this part, Dawn writes about the early years with Kelsea.
I had studied early childhood education in college so I had every plan to start teaching Kelsea the basics as soon as I thought she had the ability to comprehend. From a very young age we would count everything together - how many times we brushed her hair, the strokes of a toothbrush or how many toys were on the floor.
I would take every opportunity to point out colors and shapes to her as well. From the beginning, Kelsea struggled with all of it. For instance, when she was old enough to have the ability to count on her own, she would consistently skip the same numbers every time. Shapes were difficult for her and colors, well, she had them all mixed up too. I was a bit baffled at this because she had such an incredible memory!
Case in point....she couldn't have been much more than a year old when we visited her Grandparent's house. Unbeknownst to us, before we left to return home she hid her favorite bathtub toys in a spot in the bathroom where she figured no one would find them.
A month or two later when we visited her Grandparents again, the minute we got in the house she went STRAIGHT to her hiding place and pulled out her toys. We were all flabbergasted! She was still just learning to walk--how could she remember something like that?!
When she turned three we decided to enroll her in a pre-school program at a local church. Only two days into the class the teacher called me with concerns. Kelsea seemed to be in her own world and wouldn't play with the other children.
I calmly informed the teacher that Kelsea was an only child and that was the very reason I had enrolled her in the pre-school, to learn to play with other children. Who would have guessed that this first " negative report" from a teacher would start me down a long path of advocacy.
I was honestly a little irritated that they couldn't figure out on their own how to get her to play with the other children. It certainly wasn't something that I could teach her at home since she was an only child. I didn't have a clue what it really meant.
A year later we enrolled her in a pre-Kindergarten class at a private Christian school. From the beginning, I was open with the teachers about my concerns. She still couldn't remember all the numbers in order. She still confused her shapes and colors. There were also other issues; but at the time, I just couldn't put my finger on what they were.
They assured me that she was probably just a slow learner and would catch up. I don't think I totally trusted their opinion at this point. I was an early childhood educator myself and it wasn't like I hadn't been working with Kelsea every day for the last three years. Something was amiss!
After repeatedly talking to the pre-Kindergarten teachers about my concerns, they finally started to see the issues that I had been so worried about. They felt, as I did, that Kelsea probably had ADHD. That was when we saw the psychologist and he diagnosed her, as having ADHD as referenced in my previous blog.
Like many parents in this situation, I thought all our problems would be solved with the medication--oh how naive I was! Yes, it helped immensely with the hyperactivity and she was no longer crawling the walls. BUT it never occurred to us, until a year or two later, that there were also learning disabilities at play. That took us to a "Y" in our road and down the path that most parents would rather not have to travel, including me.
Learning issues aside, we had horrific behavior problems to deal with too. These weren't your normal childhood tantrums; these were something akin to a wild animal being caught in a trap and raging out of control.
I was a mother living on the edge of sanity! When Kelsea was pleasant, she was adorable. But when something set her off--and we were usually oblivious to what that "something" was--you had better watch out!
I attended parenting classes when she was younger and knew the tried and true ways to discipline toddlers. The only thing was, NOT ONE of those methods worked with Kelsea. Actually, no amount of discipline worked.
I am not kidding when I say that I was on the edge of sanity, I was truly in the depths of despair over how to parent this child and every day I was ready to throw in the towel and find someone else to raise her. I felt like a total failure as a mother.
If you are new here, WELCOME! Dawn is a busy mom of a 19 year old daughter, Kelsea, who has Asperger's. Dawn is a friend and family member. Kelsea is a sweet young women who LOVES history and computers.
Dawn has agreed to write a series of articles about her experience of raising, and homeschooling a child with Asperger's and a learning disability.
Everyone has a story to tell. Some stories are tragic, but others can learn from them. Some of your stories are success stories; those are encouraging for the struggling parent and child. Please consider sharing your story with all of us.
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Just as adults learn from others' testimonies and struggles, children will benefit from listening to other children's successes and struggles.
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