Today’s post is not easy for me to write, but I have to do it, even if it is just to get my own thoughts and feelings on the matter sorted out. We had to take Logan out of his new school after 7 days due to his behavior and them not being able (or willing) to handle him. There is a lot for me to explain so this will be long. Bare with me.
To start at the beginning, I’ve always known there was something different about Logan. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but having cared for many children over the years, I could tell he was not average for his age in many ways. He had gross motor skill delays as a baby and toddler, then delayed speech and more than normal difficulty with emotional self-control. For example, he rolled over at 8 months (average is 3 months), crawled at 11 months (av. 7 mo.), walked at 15 months (av. 12 mo.), and had a hard time running well even at 3 years. When he did learn to walk, he fell more than average and hit his head in doing so more times than I can count. It wasn’t unusual for him to have a big bump on his head within seconds of falling.
Around the time he turned 2, he was sick for a while and threw up. It had never affected him before, but the way he cried at that time worried me. He was so scared of it that it took a long time to calm him down. That was the first time I saw that cry, the one that says something is freaking him out and nothing will calm him down. He also began flapping his hands and tensing his body so hard that he is stronger than me when in that mode.
What made things harder for him was not being able to talk. Until he was 2 1/2, he could only say 5 words and would not try to say anything else. Where most children will make attempts at copying words, he would just stare at me if I tried to get him to say something. He could make most animal sound but words were mama, dada, na-na (food), baba (baby), and deow (there). After 2 1/2 though, it was like a dam burst and the words just poured out of him.
I got most concerned after he turned 3 and saw that he still lacked basic skills that any child his age would have mastered at that point. At first I chalked it up to his difficult birth, and going over it, I was sure he had experienced trauma at some point. His delivery was by emergency C-section at 33 weeks, because my water broke and was completely drained by the time he was delivered. The doctors also discovered that he had the cord around his neck so tight that they couldn’t lift it off and they had to cut it before he was taken out. I can see that there would be a short delay in getting enough oxygen between the time the cord was cut and when he was pulled out and started breathing. Even a small lack of oxygen can affect the brain and cause delays or permanently affect a child. (Go here for his full birth story.) Birth trauma can be the cause for many delays in children, but as he got older, I wasn’t entirely convinced that that was the root cause of the problems.
There are a lot of things Logan does that are odd. He loves playing with doors- opening, closing, slamming – over and over, all day long. He will be sitting and playing quietly, then will suddenly become intensely wild and will dump or throw all the toys over the entire room. He will go from gently reading a book to treating it roughly and often crushing or tearing the pages. I never knew cardboard books could be torn until Logan ruined every single one we had. He likes to push buttons and play with switches to the point of breaking them. He pulls pictures off the walls and tears any paper he finds.
He will sit and say the same thing over and over, changing only one word to suit his play. For example, he will make up a sentence ie.”This is the animal one,” referring to a book or video, and then repeat the sentence over and over, but each time will substitute the word animal for a specific animal name. At the same time, he has his hands in his lap and his fingers will be furiously wiggling and intertwining. He often does this hand thing when talking to us as well.
I’ve never known any child to throw tantrums like he does. The strength he has is insane. The solution for me has been to put him in his room until he calmed down, since he would not only scream, but would pinch and bite me. Thankfully these are becoming less frequent; plus, now he will let me hold him and talk to him at times when before he would have been unable to accept any sort of reasoning.
He has a lot of fears that I find unusual. Not only is he scared of vomiting, but if he hears anyone talk about it, or mention that they have a sick tummy, or that they could get one, he freaks out. Sometimes I tell Lila eating or drinking a certain thing (she will still put sticks and stuff from the ground in her mouth and likes to drink the tap water) will give her a sick tummy. Being a stubborn, independent 3 year old, she will go ahead and do it anyway and Logan will cry and freak out, thinking she will get sick right there. She will often do it on purpose just to upset Logan since she knows it scares him, and he will come running and burst into tears saying, “Lila will get sick.” She just smiles and continues defiantly. Arrg.
He also hates any sort of bowel pain and will freak out almost daily just before he has to go doo-doo. This started about a year ago and has taken some time for me to figure out. He doesn’t like pain of any kind, and fears having to visit the doctor, so he will say something else hurts instead of what really hurts, and sometimes he will cry for a long time, claiming his chin or toes or some tiny cut is hurting instead of telling me what really hurts. He is slowly getting over it, but still has a hard time understanding that it is important to talk about pain instead of hiding it. I’ve talked with him about how it’s ok to sit on the toilet a while and that he doesn’t have to wait until the last second to go, nor does he have to cry about it. If it happens at mealtime, he won’t finish his meal, even though we talk about how it is ok to come back and finish eating. He often just wants to lie down instead. Lately I’ve tried telling him “If your leg (or whatever) hurts so much, we will have to take you to the doctor so he can make sure you are ok.” This is often enough to make him stop and soon he will tell me it doesn’t hurt any more and he will be off playing.
Loud noises used to scare him a lot but now the main noise he hates is someone crying or tantrums from other children. (His own don’t affect him, ha.) Especially when he is tired, if one of the girls, or a child in a public place, starts crying, he will cry too and say he is scared of the noise. He used to be scared of the washer, mini 3-wheel trucks, fireworks (Indian holidays were a nightmare), the pressure cooker, balloons and more. Most of these he has overcome now, and he actually loves the washer. When it spins he wants to touch it, saying the vibrations feel lovely. And he is constantly putting stuff on top of it – toys, books, the potty, anything that makes noise when vibrated – “to wash” he says.
His current big fear is elevators. I mentioned in this post the incident at the mall where he freaked out when I tried to get him on an elevator. I don’t think I described how strong he was when screaming. It took all my strength to hold him on the floor, and to calm him down I had to talk with my mouth right up to his ear as he was screaming so loud he would not have heard me any other way. It took a good 5 minutes before he was calm enough to tell me that he was scared of the elevator and the man inside (the guy who sits and pushes the buttons). Then, I had to carry him past the elevators, kicking and screaming, to get to the stairs. It wasn’t until he saw the stairs that he was convinced I wasn’t going to force him onto the elevator. (Did I mention the girls were there too and that Lila had to hold Scarlett to keep her from running off and I had to make her walk instead of carry her?)
He does not do well in group play, meaning Lila and Scarlett put up with a lot of meanness from him. Sometimes he will play nicely (he is slowly learning) but then suddenly he will freak out and start hitting whoever is close to him or whoever he thinks is bothering him, whether they are or not. He has gone through phases of hitting, pinching, and biting. While this is normal for preschoolers to some extent, usually they will stop it after a few reprimands or punishments. But he just doesn’t seem to be able to control himself no matter how many times I have talked about it or punished for it.
As he has gotten bigger and stronger, when he gets upset at the girls, I have to step in right away for their own safety, though both have learned to retaliate and can get him back good. I have to pull Logan out of the group and hold him firmly seated next to me while we try to work out the problem. Sometimes it works, but sometimes he is just too wound up and tiredness makes it worse.
Now on to school. He did well during his preschool year, though there were difficulties. He never would sit in class when needed. He would often run out of the classroom and climb the stairs, or he would not want to join the group activity, preferring to play on his own. Whenever he was really acting up and not listening to his teacher, she would call Glad to deal with him. Now that I think about it, he made it through preschool because daddy was right there to call when he was too much to handle. He did come to love his teacher, though, and went through a time when he would cry and ask for her when it wasn’t a school day.
Then came kindergarden. Since the school he was in didn’t have a kindergarden program, we enrolled him in another one that was just a few streets away from the previous one. It wasn’t just close but was also one of the largest and most popular (and supposedly best) preschool chains in all of Asia so we didn’t think there would be any problems. There he exhibited all the same behavior as at home and at his previous school, but they didn’t know how to handle it. After the first week, they wanted to talk to us about how to handle him. They suggested we either hire a nanny to be with him full time while at school, or else withdraw him. I understand that the teacher had 10 other kids to work with, but I feel they didn’t want to have to discipline him and make him sit when needed (which he will do), nor did they want the challenge of a “hyperactive child” as they described him. So we decided to withdraw him and find another place.
Now I have to insert the important part: We feel Logan may have autism. Now, this is not yet proven; we still have to get him tested and see if 1. he has autism or not, and 2. if so, how serious it is. This possibility came to light back when Glad was just teaching at the school in their after-school programs and was not yet the manager of the place. They had a seminar for the teachers about working with autistic children and he told me later that many of the points made him think “That sounds like Logan.”
In doing research, I have found more and more points to confirm the possibility. Things like saying the same thing 50 times in a row (literally, it can drive me crazy), wanting to always watch the same video, attachment to certain toys, and being sensitive to noise, not to mention all the things I listed above, all point towards the possibility of autism. I want to reiterate that this is not yet confirmed. We have to have him evaluated by a professional first. From there we will see if there is a special school where he will be able to get the focused attention he needs, or perhaps just one where he will be able to learn in his own way.
When it comes to learning, he is good at it. He’s smart and retains information better than I do. Just look at how fast he learned to read when he was finally interested in it. For now, I am working with him at home, but I don’t plan on homeschooling forever. This is just until we find the right place for him. In the mean time, I am continuing with reading, plus writing the alphabet and numbers, and some phonics. I could do a whole curriculum for him if I really wanted to get into full time homeschooling, but I still have Scarlett at home and she demands attention too, plus the home care and cooking and everything else, and truthfully, I don’t want to do it. It is a huge commitment of time and energy that I don’t have. The time when they are gone in the morning is like a mental break for me and I feel refreshed by the time they get home.
So this is how things stand now. Once the evaluation is done, I will be able to tell you more. Glad says he almost doesn’t want to know, and while I understand the feeling, I feel we would be doing Logan a disservice by ignoring it. I want him to be able to progress, to learn and grow in an environment that is just right for him.
This coming Wednesday Logan has an appointment with a specialist. I’m both nervous about what the outcome will be and happy that we will finally have an answer and possible solutions for helping him progress. I promise I’ll update you as we learn more.