Well, it”s been over 2 weeks since the ISATs ended and we are still experiencing the repercussions from the yearly nightmare at our house. My 5th grader, E, hardly slept at all during the 2weeks of the ISATs because he was so anxious about taking the tests; he attends a therapeutic school where the testing only lasts 90 minutes each day but goes on for the entire 2 weeks allotted for testing. I have talked to parents of “neurotypical” children, the term we parents of special needs kids use to describe “normal” kids, and they all tell me their kids freak out during the testing. So, you can imagine how stressed out a kid with anxiety disorder must be during testing.
My son has a very large executive functioning deficit which translates into difficulties in planning, working memory, attention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, inhibition, mental flexibility, multi-tasking, initiation and monitoring of actions. We have discovered that he is incapable of extrapolating from one similar experience to the next. To him, every single experience seems to be unique, even though it may be 99.99% similar to hundreds of previous experiences. So, he never learns from past experiences because each one is new to him. It’s really quite astounding and incredibly frustrating.
We thought he was finally catching up on sleep since last week went pretty well. Then, the weekend arrived and all hell broke loose. He does well in a very structured environment; school followed by afterschool program, but the weekends are unstructured and he just can’t handle unstructured time. If he isn’t watching videos or playing video games, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. We ended up with yet another hole in the basement wall. That’s what he does when we turn the TV off. He goes through a 20 minute period of extreme agitation, sort of like when The Incredible Hulk changes to his green, hulky persona. That’s when E is most likely to overturn the garbage, throw a kettle on the floor or punch a hole in his wall. It is terrifying. I know many of you are thinking, then don’t let him watch TV. Easy for you to say. For E, watching TV allows him to tune out all the out of control sensory messages his senses are sending to his brain. If he isn’t watching TV, he is begging us to let him watch TV. If he isn’t watching TV, he is driving us insane, demanding that we entertain him since he has no internal resources. I am always so envious of parents who have children who will go outside and play by themselves. That just never happens in our house.
I subscribe to a newsletter for special needs families called “One Place for Special Needs” and there was an article about the earning potential of families with special needs children. New research indicates that Moms of special needs kids earn 56% less than Moms of neurotypical children due to the increased parenting demands and exhaustion factor. Both my husband and I find it very difficult to make a living while constantly dealing with a child who can’t control his anger. Much of the time, I take to my bed, either to avoid E or because I am so exhausted from his daily tantrums and unreasonable behaviors. If there is a medal for parenting an adopted, special needs child, my husband and I deserve one.