On 28th March, we took Bub to see an educational psychologist. It is something I should have done sooner. I know I should have. I should have had him assessed after having the other two assessed just to get it over with. I had a hard time though coming to terms with Monster’s difficulties. That was an extremely hard pill to swallow.
History of Monster
In the US, I knew she had some issues with dyslexia. I was in a battle with the school to have her assessed. They were fighting back. I’m a special education teacher, so I know what my rights were there. I knew that, by law, the school was responsible for any cost for assessments if they were outside the scope of the professionals provided in the school. They knew I knew that, and they downplayed everything. When I asked for her to be assessed by the school psychologist, I was told I wasn’t doing my job as a mother to make sure she did her homework, and that was why she wasn’t learning properly.
Just a little bit of background on that. Every night, I spent from the time we finished at school until it was time for dinner (so from 3:30PM to 7:30PM) trying to get her to do her homework. This was me sitting next to her for a majority of the time until I had to start making dinner. Then more trying to get her homework done until it was bedtime.
By Thursdays, I was done. I didn’t make her do any homework on Thursdays or Fridays most weeks because it had been 3 days of nothing but schoolwork for both her and me.
It was torture. For her and for me.
Not to mention that B was actively fighting me about her being assessed. He argued with my professional understanding of special needs. He argued that she was fine, and I was just trying to project my profession on my kids. Sounds familiar…
Then we came to Hong Kong.
Yeah, that was … horrible. I was accused of lying about Monster’s abilities. I was accused of knowing she was significant needs.
No, no, no, no. I *knew* she most likely had dyslexia. I disclosed that in her application to the school. I also disclosed to the school she had no formal diagnosis, which was the truth.
Monster ended up on the Autism spectrum, with ADHD inattentive and dyslexia. Later, she would be diagnosed with delays and other … stuff.
B again made this about him. The reality is if Monster is like anyone, it would be me. We asked for her to be held back a year level as I was when I was her age. That was denied by the school.
We sat in that meeting with the educational psychologist, and B just didn’t want to hear any of it. From that point, I handled all of those meetings for all of our kids alone. There were many of them. The worst was the second time Monster was assessed in her new school. The ed psych found more in her results. Monster started attending occupational therapy, and that heavily implied there was some dyspraxia. Though that report was never shown to me. I left that meeting and cried.
The History of Monkey
Monkey also had challenges from an early age. She struggled with connecting with her peers since the beginning. She always functioned much better with adults. Around 4th grade though, when puberty hit, she went through some drastic changes. There were concerns about her social development as well as her sensory processing.
The school psychologist, at the time, suggested that she be assessed. He had conducted observations on her over a period of time, and he said he was seeing signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder. I researched the autism centre in the next state over. I contacted them and even started the process.
That is until B. He was so against it. It was a huge fight that ended in him threatening to leave me if I had her assessed. He kept saying, if she’s autistic, then so am I. I kept telling him, it wasn’t about you. This is about getting her the support she needs. To him, autism was a dirty word.
I didn’t have her assessed. I did, however, do everything I could to support her and help her cope with the different issues Autism presents. I was in school with her, so if she had any issues, I was called. I handled her.
I think about how different things could have been for her if she had earlier intervention, and I am disgusted with myself.
She did finally get assessed in year 10 in Hong Kong. Autism Spectrum Disorder, level 1 (or Aspergers) and ADHD inattentive. Also, she is ridiculously intelligent. I did it without B’s consent or knowledge.
When I showed her that report, it was like a light bulb lit up. She understood herself so much better. She understood why she was the way she was.
On To Bub…
Bub has always been distractible, but no more than any other boy I’ve ever seen. In the US, he was a pain in the bum, but he was also pretty smart. He just thought he had better things to do.
Then we came to Hong Kong, and he struggles with social emotional issues from being away from family. He was in counseling for quite a while. Actually, he was seeing one counselor at school for about 2 years. He only stopped seeing her this past September (with my blessing, which is a whole other story).
Anyway, Bub is good at avoidance. He will do anything to get out of doing something he doesn’t want to do. He also spent a long time focusing on how much he hated living in Hong Kong and how much he missed family. The whole thing was really difficult for him. That compounded when I re-signed for another 2 years after the first contract was coming to an end.
Bub has been receiving a great deal of support through the special needs department at school. The way I looked at it was a report wasn’t going to change what he got. The school was already doing everything it could.
Then it hit me. I was in denial. Again.
He and I both needed to know. Through the home learning due to Corvid-19, his issues had only become more pronounced.
So I contacted the educational psychologist who assessed Monkey and Monster. That was the easy part. Because we are separated, the Ed Psych said I would need B to sign consent.
I talked with B about having it done. I honestly didn’t know why he would care about it since he wasn’t paying for it, but of course he had an opinion on it. It was again about him. How Bub is like him when he was younger. How it was his fault.
We went for the assessment, and the ed psych asked us to fill out checklists. That was torture. I’m used to them. They are part of my job. I know what they mean. I get it. He criticized each question and huffed over the open endedness of it all.
Come on, man.
The assessment was conducted. The ed psych loved Bub (I mean who wouldn’t? He’s an awesome kid). The report was handed back in two weeks. B went with me to get the results. I give him credit for that. He actually showed up for that. I didn’t expect him to.
Bub was diagnosed with ADHD inattentive and dysgraphia. The ed psych strongly recommended medication for Bub. He said he was different from the girls in that this was his main challenge. While meds were suggested for the girls, it wasn’t something he said would make a huge difference since their challenges were more significant.
For Bub though, medication could be life changing. His main challenge was the inattentiveness. If we could get that under control and he could learn better habits, then he could be hugely successful.
He asked that we think about it.
I am actually not sure how it happened. I talked to Bub. I let him decide if he wanted to try it. I know I am the parent, but I wasn’t going to force him to put medication in his body if he didn’t want to. Bub said he wanted to try it. I contacted the developmental paediatrician. I took Bub for the appointment on my own. Bub was put on medication.
It seems to be making a difference. I am hoping to see more of a difference once we are back to school again.
So I have 3 kids with ADHD inattentive, 2 with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and one with various other challenges. I’m not sure how this happened. I’m not sure what I did wrong. I love my kids. They are amazing people. Monkey is an incredible artist. She is extremely creative. Monster is also creative, but she is also caring, loving, empathetic, and happy. Bub is very funny, social, caring, and just an amazing guy. Despite their challenges, they are awesome. They are mine.