It’s just a TIC - PART 2 – WHY?
As I delved into what could be causing the stress. So began a string of appointments at Doctors, Behavioural Optometrist and Audiologists. I just wanted to tick off the list to make sure that I wasn’t missing anything.
When Buran was a toddler (from age of about 8months – 18th months) he had constant ear infections, ear perforations. He was always on antibiotics and after constant request for referral from my GP I finally got a referral to a ENT specialist. He had two sets of grommets of which were unsuccessful, so eventually they decided to remove his tonsils and adenoids. From that time his health improved. But because of that there was concern that it had affected his hearing and we had regular hearing tests.
So my first point of call was a full hearing check. That was all okay and it seemed that they didn’t find anything in his hearing that may be related to learning difficulties.
Next was the Behavioural Optometrist. What was interesting about these findings was even though Buran’s eye sight was good they discovered that Buran struggled processing multiple sources of information, resulting in the diagnosis that he may have sensory processing issues. They also recognised that this most likely is a direct result of issues surrounding his constant ear infections and delayed development of his vestibular system.
What does all this mean? Well as it turns out the Vestibular system is the first to fully develop and it can affect how the brain receives information and where it sends multiple sources of information and if not fully development can affect a child’s ability to learn, in particular it can affect the control of eye muscles, which can interfere with eye movement and academic learning.
So Buran was going to school, however he was not understanding what was being taught to him. He would look at a page in a book and just see all these words and letters, his brain couldn’t process what to do with that information. So basically it was a constant overload of information.
So it all started to make sense. I knew what was causing the stress and it was all centred around his learning and school.
When Buran started school I noticed a change in his behaviour. First couple of weeks of prep were okay. He seemed to like going to school. But then as the weeks went on, Buran started telling me he didn’t want to go to school and it resulted in distressing melt downs. I just thought that maybe he wasn't ready for school and just wanted to stay at home. Maybe it was a security thing. But in hindsight I don't think it was a security or seperation issue as Buran never had any issues in going to Childcare and nor did he ever display at difficulty in socialising with other kids.
At the first parent teacher interview for Prep the teacher bought to my attention that Buran was not quite where he should be for reading and writing. So subjective I thought! How can they put limits on kids so early and don't they all learn at their own pace?
Okay I thought maybe he just needed more time. Buran hated going to school and would get so angry with me for taking him. I tried to do the home work that was sent home but most times it was such a struggle to get him to do it, and he would get so upset. It would result in over an hour of negotiation and very little work getting done and then both of us being upset and distraught. Some tasks were easier than others, but majority of the time he hated doing any of it. He just wanted to play.
Later that prep year I went into Buran’s class room to help out with reading groups and I noticed that they had a reading tree on the wall that had all the kids names on it. The higher your name on the tree it meant the higher the reading level for that child. Buran’s name was right down the bottom, actually almost into the root of the tree. My poor boy was struggling. He just wasn’t getting it. Was he not ready for school? This led into Year 1 and into Year 2. Every parent teacher interview and school report would be the same. Buran is not achieving year Level for maths and English.
As the years rolled into Year 1 and Year 2 his behaviour at home got progressively worse. Often when I would pick him up from school he was angry. He was often angry towards me and his siblings. This went on for almost a year and the behaviour became unbearable. I thought he was just going through some development stages and being stubborn. I didn’t know that he was stressed about school and overwhelmed. He didn’t either, all he knew was how it made him feel, which was angry. He was only 7 and he couldn't express to me that he something was wrong. How was he to know. But what he did know was that he was different to other kids and why wasn't he 'getting it' like the other kids.
He was becoming more and more defiant and constantly lashing out at me and his siblings. I would put him in his room for time out and he would go crazy, throwing his toys and books around his room. I tried different discipline techniques and to no avail. I was constantly researching what could be wrong with him. Was it ADHD, opposition defiant disorder? It was constant. I found myself being anxious about picking him up from school not knowing what mood he would be in. I also found myself not wanting to be around my son, because of his wild behaviour and anger. He was no longer any fun to be around. Every day was a struggle for all of us. We all had to walk to egg shells as not to upset him. However he was easily irritated by the smallest of things.
From the moment he was born I loved my son. He was a beautiful baby and such a fun toddler. So lovable and fun to be with. What has happened? I felt so bad for the way I felt. I hated myself for having such negative feelings about my son. But he wore me down. I was exhausted. Working shift work, looking after 3 kids and trying to manage his behaviour. I started to think that maybe it was a ‘boy’ thing as my two other children were girls and I never had these issues with them. They were such independent happy, compliant children, who would argue with me from time to time but nothing like this. I was at my wits end. Happy loving times with my son seemed few and far between and I dreaded that this was life now with him. How did it all go so wrong?
So when Buran started experiencing the TICS I blamed myself. I felt bad for not recognising that it was stress. I just thought he was being a naughty kid. I felt bad for forcing him to go to school every day, which was the cause of all of this. It started me questioning whether main stream school is the best option for him. Or whether he may be suited to a more holistic style of schooling. Will we be able to fix any of this? Will he always hate school? Should I home school him? But I can't afford to do that. So many questions!!
But now at least I knew why. It was a starting point and I knew I needed to educate myself on this issue and get him some help.