One of our first indications that something was amiss came as a result of a decision we made to enroll him in a sport. It was a short, 6 week, no-pressure class and we were sure that, just as his siblings before him, he would be thrilled to finally be on a team. On the first day of the class, when it was time for him to hold the floor hockey stick, his reaction was to freeze. It was alarming as he stood rooted in one spot in the center of the gym while other three-year-olds ran and played around him. He stood there and stood there. Immobile. Eyes glued to the floor. Shoulders hunched. Unable to respond in anyway even when Checkered stood next to him and tried to help him play. He wasn't being stubborn that day. He wasn't being just a shy boy. He absolutely could not function nor could he communicate verbally with us in any way. That was the last time we tried to engage him in a group sport.
At school and other social situations, he isolated himself every chance he got physically and emotionally, even going so far as to pull himself into fetal positions in group settings. In kindergarten, he always maneuvered himself until his back was against a wall. In first grade, he often chose to be in the coat room rather than with the other students. Our precious, beautiful, sweet boy.
During first grade, an exceptionally compassionate teacher repeatedly and gently told us that she was concerned. Our boy did not want to engage in conversation with other kids, he spent recess walking around the perimeter of the playground - hood always on even in hot weather, hands in pockets - sending his message that isolation was what he wanted. He was an easy target for bullying that year. Even though I knew something wasn't right, it took that teacher and Checkered a long time to get me to acknowledge that we needed help. And so began a long round of exhausting doctoring and treatment.
Each doctor reached a different diagnosis and recommended different treatment, and still our child flinched if another child touched him, rarely showed emotion, and greatly concerned his parents.
We repeatedly asked the Lord to send us to the right doctors. We needed help. And the Lord heard our prayers :)
After a lot more doctoring and a good year with an intuitive second-grade teacher, our boy is a new boy.
This eight-year-old has friends. He has had three sleepovers. He has played tag at recess this year. He is getting better at communicating what he is feeling and we are better equipped at helping him understand why he feels that way at times. He doesn't prefer group social situations, but he is learning coping skills. This perfect boy. Our gift from God.
Do you want proof that our child is making progress?
This month, he ASKED to join a tackle football team.
We signed him up for a flag football class.
And although it was painfully difficult for him to walk into the gym and join the other boys there, Checkered was able to take his hand and help him.
Thank-you, Lord, for your continued graciousness toward our boy.