Step away from Dr. Google

Howdy, friends.

Our son Jack, who is almost 4, has benefited a ton from the state Birth to 3 program. It’s pretty amazing, and provides speech, occupational and other therapies for young children who need some extra help.

Jack did. We had speech for about two years, and some occupational therapy. After age 3, kids can test out of the program or, if they need more help, into a similar one through the school district.

It’s all free, and all awesome.

Jack qualified for additional fine motor skills help when he turned 3, but we turned it down, confident he would come along and that we could work with him. Besides, he seemed to be making a ton of progress, and there was no reason to think that wouldn’t continue.

In the past year, he’s learned to ride a balance bike, make some letter shapes, scribble some circles.

But then we noticed something. When we gave Viv a crayon, she held it better than Jack. She tried harder to draw something. Jack still clutched his crayon weirdly, and still didn’t really understand that he could use the crayon to create an image he saw in his own imagination. In fact, if you give him a sheet of blank paper and a picture to color, he treats them the same: With frantic scribbles.

So we decided to have him re-evaluated for his fine motor skills. To do that, we have had to meet with four different people now. A physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a school nurse and an early childhood educator.

It’s been a lot of meetings. And they have all been incredibly kind and patient and loving toward us and Jack.

But it’s already obvious: Jack is behind. By a lot.

He can’t throw a ball overhand. He can’t kick a ball without holding on to something. He can’t stand on one foot. He can’t pedal. He can’t connect the dots with a pencil.

We have a bigger meeting next week to see what sort, if any, of help he qualifies for. I’m excited to see — and look forward to working with the district to help Jack come along.

All that is positive.

But then after some of our meetings, two of the educators pulled me aside to talk about something else.

Jack’s blank stares.

He’s always done this — as a baby it used to creep me out sometimes. Daycare used to say he “saw ghosts.”

I guess I’m so used to it by now, I don’t even notice.

But the teachers did. And when I called daycare, they said, yes, it still happens all the time. And our neighbor commented, yes, he always does that.

Funny how you just stop seeing things in your own daily life after a while.

But several times a day, Jack just sort of blanks out. His eyes glaze over, he stares off, and sometimes has a very odd random conversation with himself, and you can snap your fingers or wave your hand in front of his face, and it’s like he’s not there. It lasts less then a minute, I would guess, and doesn’t seem to bother him.

The educators suggested maybe he is having mini-seizures.

Oh, Google. Why did you lead me to this?

We have an appointment with the pediatrician next week to see what she says. I should confess right now that I honestly think he just is thinking. Or imagining. Or something harmless-ing. And that I am pretty much a billion percent against any kind of medication for a preschooler that isn’t wildly necessary. And that I already am feeling both super curious about what it could be and hyper defensive that everything is FINE.

Jack is a sweet boy. Everyone says that about him. He’s kind and caring and loving and cuddly and social and funny. And he’s good. And I hate to label him as anything other than my sweet, sweet boy.

So I’m going to try not to.

At least for another week, until we see the pediatrician.

But my mind is spinning. I’m spending way too much time on Web MDon’t looking for answers. I’m worried about what it all means. I’m just worried.

And even though both conditions seem pretty treatable, you just hate to think of anything going on with your kid that’s more severe than a runny nose.

I’m grateful for the school district’s gentle help and kindness in all this, though,and I trust our pediatrician, so I know that will be a helpful meeting.

Until then, I guess, I should step away from the computer and just enjoy life.

Don’t worry. I put a helmet on Viv about 20 seconds after this photo was taken. And about a minute before she yelled, “Go ‘way, Jack! Baby’s bike!” Oh, she’s a turkey. Maybe I should be more worried about her?

In hilarious news, I tried to tell Jack a story the other night, just a random story, made-up, at bedtime. After all, I’ve made my living writing and editing stories. I should be OK at this, right?

He listened for about 2 minutes.

Then he turned to me.

“Mom? What are you talking about, mom?”

Guess I’ll stick to books.

Happy running.

 

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7 Responses to Step away from Dr. Google

  1. Wow. What a lot to deal with. Got to admit, the moment you wrote “he stares and imagines things”, I thought the same thing: absence seizures. I was surprised to learn as a med student how common these are in children. But I am by no means an expert and I am so glad you have so many people on the case to work out a diagnosis and plan for your adorable boy. He is so lucky to have a mom like you. Please keep us posted.

    • Thanks! I had wondered before if he had them, because I came across them when learning about the febrile seizures both he and my daughter have had (not connected to these kind of seizure). But then I thought it was unlikely and promptly forgot. I admit I would rather have this, I think, than ADHD, which seems like a horrid label that I just don’t want.

  2. Wow- This must be a daunting process….My son is 3 and a half and we had our girl first. She seemed to breeze through milestones and he seems to take longer- but I’ve been told that is normal for boys. He lacks attention span and seems hyperactive and has a pretty strong speech impediment but I tell myself that this is probably the normal state of toddler/pre-school boys. My plan is to evaluate his progess once he starts pre-school this coming year. It is a small school with a lot of one on one attention and a very comprehensive progress evaluation program that assesses behavior, self-care, emotional aspects and academics- so I’m hoping if there are any deviations from the norm, that we will see what we can’t see. I wish you luck and hope that the pedicatrician gives you good news, or at least, a plan for the way ahead if it isn’t what you are hoping for….

    • I tend to agree with you — I think Jack is just on his own little curve. But I am interested in what the pediatrician says. I think sometimes folks rush to diagnose someone who is a little left of center as being abnormal, when really, we all are good at different things. My god, I have the worst fine motor skills ever, and can’t catch, so maybe he comes by it all naturally.

  3. Sophia says:

    That’s so tough. My son is only 6 months old but was born at only 28 weeks so he’s delayed in his motor development. It’s hard to think of him as anything other than my amazing little guy and I’m thankful for all the amazing people who are helping him in his development. Your son is beautiful and is lucky to have you for a mom. I’ll be thinking of you guys (I hope that’s not creepy…).

  4. Hope you can hang in there with your hold-the-meds stance. Children are WAY overmedicated these days. Makes it easier for the adults who are overworked and overstressed. In another culture, this child might be viewed as having a spiritual gift.

  5. Sally Lasko says:

    My uncle has a seizure disorder that wasn’t diagnosed until he was a tween and had his first grand mal. He had been having absent seizures for years (probably since birth), but back in the 1940s they were not as aware of the condition as they are today. As a result, he was thought to be “dull witted” or “disinterested” in school and was tracked into the “slow” program. Teachers and his parents misunderstood his absent seizures as daydreaming, a refusal to pay attention, or an inability to do his schoolwork. Your knowledge and advocacy for him is absolutely fantastic, and will make all the difference in the world. Once my uncle was properly diagnosed, his medication changed his life. He hasn’t had a seizure in literally decades, and the medication has only gotten better and better over the years. He’s healthy, happy, and lives a life filled with love.

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