“Oh, He’ll Grow Out Of It.”


As parents, we hear it all the time, “Oh, he’ll grow out of it.’’ As children, they pick their noses, are a little clumsy, they’re too inquisitive, and are picky eaters. From family, friends, and doctors you will hear it. I’d be rich if I had a dime for every time I was told, “Oh, he’ll grow out of it.” This is probably one of the most frustrating things to hear repeatedly as a parent.



The Real Question Lies In The When Will He Grow Out Of It?

All of us are unique. From child to child from adult to adult. Sure, we may share certain milestones and characteristics but we are not the same. That is why they call it the practice of medicine, it’s not an exact science and it can never be unless we are all the same. This is one of the reasons that the APA has recommendations and guidelines for childhood milestones and development. Recently those milestones have been updated as we discussed in the previous blog article.


As a preemie child, Miguel was able to meet most of his milestones via his adjusted age calculations. Doctors kept him on the advanced preemie formula until he was 1 ½ years old. He ate well, all types of baby food except for baby oatmeal and rice. He’d even eat the toddler finger foods offered by various infant companies. He was even potty trained before 2 ½ years old. Which to any parent is an accomplishment.


It wasn’t until he was about 3 years old that concerns started to arise. At that time I was married with 2 children, working, and ¾ of the way through LPN school. To top it all off I was not in the healthiest of marriages. My father at the time was a practicing Physician Assistant and had commented to me that Miguel should be speaking more than he was. At the time I brushed it off because my father did not know the circumstances of my home life and I chalked it up to that. They say hindsight is 20/20, I wouldn’t realize it until years later.

Elementary


At 3 years old, the Headstart in our area would accept students. I thought maybe if Miguel was able to socialize with other children his age his language would improve. Up to this point he was surrounded by adults, his sister was about 10 years old at that time. The first six months were awful. I would call every day to check up on him or the school would call me. The reports were the same, “he spent all day crying and didn’t eat his lunch.” I bless those preschool teachers for having to endure that. We all just thought it was severe separation anxiety since he’d been at home with family. The crying went from all day to half the day, to just an hour each morning. Unfortunately, eating lunch never changed. At every wellness visit, I was told he would grow out of it and that he was a picky eater, not liking what was served for lunch and I listened.

We started noticing concerns brought to our attention by the Kindergarten teacher. Complaints of inability to focus, unable to sit still for long periods of time, and issues socializing along with what we as parents were witnessing at home. This led to a referral for him to be tested for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Between home, school, and the doctor, Miguel was diagnosed with ADHD. This began his daily medication and referral to a “pediatric developmental specialist”.


Home Life


Outside of school, we began to notice other things besides his limited food choices or picky eating habits. We began to notice his hesitation with a lot of things… I can’t even pinpoint a day, week, month, or year but just gradual changes. His food preferences were and still are one of the biggest obstacles we face. He went from eating formula, and all types of baby and toddler foods to a very small, restrictive diet which he would not eat in school with what he thought was/is people watching him eat.

He was scared of Halloween, costumes, mannequins, puppets, and animatronics. I remember for his fifth birthday, we planned a Chuck-E Cheese party and we literally walked in and he ran right out screaming and crying. Carousels, forget about it, meltdown. Loud sounds and large crowds of people, were and still are a no. He still will not speak to strangers or adults unless instructed or having verbal or facial expression prompting.

Church, this was hard on both of us. I will be the first one to admit I’m not a very religious person however, I am extremely spiritual. I enjoy congregating with those in church. I love the word, the singing, and the praise. Our son, not so much. The lighting and loud music literally cause him to ball up into a fetal position and start stimming (behavior consisting of repetitive actions or movements of a type that may be displayed by people with developmental disorders, most typically autistic spectrum disorders; self-stimulation - Oxford Languages). We tried noise-canceling headphones and sitting in dimmer light to no avail. Unfortunately, not all people understand Autism, its spectrum let alone its challenges. Since Miguel is high functioning and you cannot visually see his disability I felt as though many people assumed he was rude for not speaking or “something” was wrong with him due to his stimming. I do occasionally stream the services online. Unfortunately, no one from the church has reached out to ask or even wonder why we haven’t returned.


Hindsight 20/20


We continued to see the developmental pediatric specialist even after years of teacher-parent conferences and addressing the issues above. Who was I? Just a parent and a nurse. Looking back it took me way too long to put my foot down and demand to test. Testing from teachers, the school, and Miguel’s doctors. Yes, some signs and symptoms of ADHD and ASD may be similar for someone that is high-functioning however with the appropriate medical care he was receiving… it shouldn’t have been missed.

The most valuable lesson I have learned as a parent is to trust your gut, and intuition always. The second most valuable lesson I’ve learned as a parent and nurse is to advocate for those you love no matter the feathers you ruffle.

For more information on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder listen to our podcast at https://www.thenursingpostpodcast.com/post/adhd-episode-102 or please visit the following website https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/ADHD


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