Fantasy World

Annie: Hey, Mom. Can I have a popsicle?

Me: Not until after dinner.

Annie: whines But I want one now.

Me: I said no.

Annie: Hey, Mom. Pretend you say yes.

Oh, the workings of the three year-old mind! If only life were that simple.


The Light at the End of the Tunnel

The purple spiral tunnel slide taunts her, its circular mouth open and inviting, ready to swallow her into twisting and turning darkness. She spends the better part of an hour up there, watching the kids disappear into the long tube, leaving behind only gleeful squeals and laughter. She peers into the slide and sees only the dark. She shouts into the slide and delights at the sound of her voice reverberating through the tunnel. She sticks her head into the opening, quickly withdrawing it, breathless. This dance between paralyzing anxiety and curiosity continues as I climb the structure and make my way toward her. I arrive at the top. She is surprised to see me. Stuffing myself into the small compartment, I spread my legs out into the mouth of the tunnel. She watches as they disappear. I thump my seemingly nonexistent legs against the slide. She smiles with relief. She sits down behind me. I am the engine, she, the caboose. We move ever so slightly into the dark. She panics and grabs the side of the opening. Gently tugging on her free hand, I pull her down into the darkness with me. In that instant before the light goes away, her fear transforms into pure joy. Down, down, down. Together. We emerge into the light. We celebrate. She leaves me at the bottom while she scampers to the top, eager to practice her new accomplishment. And we celebrate each time she reaches the light. Again and again and again.


Alphabet Soup

Kate's official diagnoses include ASD/PDD-NOS, SPD, and anxiety with a strong OCD component. One of Kate's therapists would like to add a new flavor to the mix: ODD. It is true that Kate is stubborn, a personality trait that runs strong on both sides of the family tree. It is true that she is emotionally reactive, which can be attributed to her struggles with the modulation of sensory input. It is true that she is argumentative, but isn't that related to the poor social skills of children on the spectrum? It is true that she is negative and often complains. Again, a personality trait. Not everybody is a glass-is-half-full kind of person. It is true that Kate tests her limits, but what child doesn't?

Kate receives a variety of services and therapies that address her needs. Occupational therapy for fine motor issues and challenges related to sensory processing. Speech therapy to strengthen pragmatic language skills. Verbal behavior taught Kate how to "use her words". A social skills group to help her interact with her peers. Behavioral health rehabilitative services to teach play skills, flexibility, coping skills. RDI to help Kate become competent in dynamic systems.

So, my question is this- What is the purpose of saddling Kate with this ODD label? Should this label be stamped on her, it might very well change how people look at her. The acronym itself is stigmatizing. Who wants their child labeled "odd"? Also, I am afraid that kids labeled with ODD are perceived as "bad kids". Kate has some challenging behaviors at times, but she is not a "bad kid".

There is no reason to slap this label on Kate. It will not change her needs nor will it change the services she receives. More importantly, it will not change how we are raising her. It will not change how we love her.


The Third Commandment

On Friday we had what we thought was, at the time, a major breakthrough in our ongoing pooping saga. Kate finally gave up her addiction to diapers, stopped the withholding, and pooped on the potty. Gonzo and I celebrated that night with wine. We were giddy with the success, finally able to see the light at the end of that long, dark tunnel.

Not so fast. Saturday brought back the withholding, stained panties, and accidents. Sunday, more of the same. A frustrated Gonzo said to Kate, "I don't understand. You pooped on the potty on Friday. Why can't you poop on the potty today?"

Her answer was, "It's not Friday. Today is Sunday. I don't poop on the potty on Sunday."

My daughter, the good Catholic, following the third commandment- Remember to keep holy the Lord's day.