When the Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Pediatrician told me a year ago that my son has ADHD, I was relieved. I had that feeling all along and it was a thorn off my chest to get that validation from a specialist. At least, I don’t have to speculate anymore. I used to answer people with an “I don’t know. I’m not sure. Still waiting for our appointment to come.” And they would say – “I really think he has ADHD. His behavior is not normal.” I would just roll my eyes.
It was ADHD and ASD combined.
As if having ADHD was not enough, the DevPed (Developmental Pediatrician) also informed me that my son has ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder with hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention noted. Jeffrey Bernstein Ph.D. notes that, “ADHD symptoms are common in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” He also has some developmental delays, impairments in socializing with others and had sensory processing dysfunctions. For this, I was shocked. In my mind, my son has ASD with ADHD? Is this for real? According to John Carosso, PsyD, “There is no known single cause for autism, but it is generally accepted to be caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Researchers are investigating a number of theories, including the link between heredity, genetics and medical problems.”
I needed to accept that my child has a behavioral and developmental ailment.
The doctor saw how upset I was and explained to me that it can happen to anyone. Disorders like this start from the brain and that is a genetic “flaw”. I know for a fact that none of my immediate and extended family members have ADHD or ASD.
My husband, on the other hand, has a cousin who has Bipolar Disorder and an aunt who has Dissociative Disorder. He also has a niece and a nephew (children of his cousins) with ASD. One of the kids was violent and the other would just stare and not talk to anyone. I took a deep breath as I relayed that to the DevPed. He said my son was not violent and can become a high-functioning adult if helped. As I look at it, my son is a very loving and sweet boy who just needed my acceptance, care and understanding.
My son’s developmental profile displayed delays in all his skills.
He was 6 years and 4 months old when my son diagnosed with ASD with ADHD. The DevPed gave my son a series of tests which determined his developmental profile. The results shattered me.
His Gross Motor Skills were 4 months delayed. As for his Fine Motor Skills, his developmental level was at 4 years and 10 months. This really saddened me. His Receptive Language Skills stressed me out some more since he was only at 4 years and 8 months. His Expressive Language Skills was 15 months delayed. My boy’s Cognitive Skills was 5 years and 9 months level. His Personal Social Skills was 5 years and 3 months, while his Adaptive Skills was 5 years and 4 months. “In ASD, we know that difficulties in social skills and communication are core features – they form part of the diagnostic criteria,” Rachael Bedford Ph.D. wrote.
The DevPed further explained that this is the reason why he has double diagnosis – his hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattentiveness and developmental delays manifested ASD with ADHD. I looked at my son while he was playing with clay and talking gibberish to other kids, nonstop. With tears in my eyes, I asked the DevPed – What do I have to do?
The DevPed provided his list of recommendations for my son who has ASD with ADHD.
1. Structure at home, full family support and constant supervision are a must. He is not to play gadgets or watch TV for more than 3 hours a day. I also had to find activities which focused on his social skills like the staring game, card memory game, matching game and more. Everyone in the family had to be equipped on managing a loved one who has ASD with ADHD.
2. His behavior had to be modified and so, the DevPed recommended Occupational Therapy three times a week.
3. My child’s language and social communication skills were also an issue. He was to see a Speech Therapist to harness the skill.
4. His teachers at school were also prompted of his behavioral disorder so that they can cooperate and coordinate with his therapists.
5. Because of his reading and writing deficiency, Educational Therapy was recommended.
6. To reduce his hyperactivity, the DevPed suggested a prescription drug for my son. He also gave me a lab test request for my son’s ECG, Creatinine, ALT and Ty TSH to ascertain the drug’s dosage. I asked the doctor if it was necessary to “drug” my boy. The DevPed said that it will depend on me, if I consented. I told him right then and there that I will waive his advice until I see the need for it – if my son will be extremely hyper and can’t be controlled.
I did what any other mother would do – therapy programs for my son.
I enrolled my son on Speech Therapy Program, Occupational Therapy Program and Educational Therapy Program. After two months, his speech and communication skills improved greatly. The therapist said he has caught up with his delay and we ended the program. He is still seeing his occupational therapist, but instead of three times a week, the session lessened to once a week. His therapist saw the development in him, as well.
As for his Educational Therapy, we had to go there twice a week. He still has difficulty with reading and writing, but when I spoke with his teachers at school, they told me that he is catching up. That’s all I needed to hear.
It can be very overwhelming at first, but nobody will help our children with their behavioral and developmental problems. As their parents, it’s up to us to assist them with their ASD and ADHD. If you want your child to grow up well amidst the disorder, therapy is one of the ways to do so. Of course, nobody can top a parent’s love and support.