He runs to make his mind still, to organize himself and to get rid of the noise from this loud, confusing world. The more he's moved, the more he's introduced patterns and rhythm into his routine. Laps around the house are a daily ritual. He's made it more complex as he's developed, but the basics are the same. There is a pattern of movement -- specific foot patterns based on whatever song or chant he chooses to accompany the run, and he can not be stopped until he is ready to be.

This is James, and this is our story.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Power of One

He read a book. On his own. Then, he came and told me he did it.  This morning.  James read a book.  
I heard him in his room, talking to himself.  Then I realized he was reading the book that we received yesterday as a present.  I stood in shock listening.  Then, he ran in my room with a giant smile on his face and said "I did it!  I read a book and I knew all the words!"

1st grade has been very difficult for him.  Figuring out sounds and phonics have always been a struggle. James would see the first letter of a word, any word, and begin to panic, then just run through all the words he knew instead of trying to figure out what the word might be.  Homework has been excruciating for both of us.  Because James has anticipatory anxiety and is afraid to be put on the spot to answer a question, he would often meltdown trying to get through a book.  In fact, the last time he willingly sat down with a book, he was 3, and it was a picture book about cats that he was showing to Owen.

"He might need something to help him access the world".  We heard that repeatedly from teachers and therapists from the time he was first evaluated for school.  I would never agree to anxiety medication, I was nervous about long term side - effects, about giving adult medicine to my small child who was unable to explain what it might be doing to him. What if it also took away the things that made James be James? We tried play therapy, self-coping skills, calming techniques, everything we could think of to help.  The techniques helped a little, but he was never able to get beyond being afraid.

His anxiety had gotten so bad this past winter that Tony and I decided we couldn't help him enough, he needed more.  What if there was something that could simply make the fears quiet enough to allow him to live without worrying all the time, about everything?  We asked James if there was a medicine he could take that would make him less nervous would he would want to try it, and he said "yes". So 2 weeks ago today, James and I went to the pharmacologist.

The past 2 weeks, I've been watching James very closely.  He's become more sensory, running more laps, licking his hands and putting everything up to his mouth.  He is asking to be brushed (a calming technique where we brush his skin with a surgical brush) that we used when he was much younger.  He also seems to be more chatty, and talks about how school isn't so hard anymore, how 1st grade isn't that bad.  I keep saying it's been less than 2 weeks, he must be coming out of a bad cycle and the timing may just be coincidental.  I've been wondering if I made the wrong decision, what if we medicated him just as he was starting to feel stronger and now he has to deal with heightened sensory issues?  What if we didn't believe in him enough and just needed to give him some more time?  How could I not believe in my own child enough that I actually decided to put him on medication?

Then, he read a book. On his own. And he came and told me he did it.  This morning.  James read a book.  And right then, I realized that he was finally able to access the world.

"When men can be made to hope, then they can be made to win."


Eithne said...

Wow, that's amazing. I can see so much of Luca here, even though he is not where James is developmentally. Some of those sensory side-effects wear off after a while...:) I am so happy this is having some benefit for him.

Jennifer said...

WOW! just wow!!! that is so, so awesome, I am just so thrilled for James and for you guys!