Monday, February 21, 2011

An Interesting Turn of Events

This will probably come as no shock to you, but I don't believe in accidents. Nor do I subscribe to the theory of coincidence. I think things happen with reason and that more times than not, that reason only becomes evident after the fact -- and at times, it doesn't become evident until years (and years and years) after the fact (cue triumphant scene of girl driving in car listening to empowering fem-rock when she realizes she has moved on from something holding her in the past).

I constantly toy with the reasons "why" -- even when it comes to why is my amazing child the way he is? Well, that's a pretty easy one to answer even if it doesn't always provide the amount of patience I may need in the middle of a, how shall we say, child-induced-hysterical-moment?

My theory? Because everyone on this earth is constantly trying to shove themselves into what they consider "normal" -- not textbook normal, but what you specifically consider normal. For example, I think it's normal to have a streak of blond hair in my otherwise black mane. However, my boss does not think this is normal (but is, however, accepting of said streak because now he knows me and knows when I decide I'm doing something, it's done).

Jude isn't normal. He's eccentric; he's creative; he dances like Twyla public. That's ok with me because really we all need to slow down and learn how to accept those dancing so delicately on the fringe of our truly boring society. That sounds a bit "peace, love and happiness" doesn't it? Well, I assure you that while I often times have to restrain my inner-hippie, there are times my inner-hippie stays completely hidden at home in a dark closet (more than likely under my rainbow-knitted crystal bag).

Another example: my niece once attended a Waldorf School. At first, I was semi-fascinated with the concept. I know a lot of creative types have come out of Waldorf to have very successful careers in the arts. Obviously, I can completely get behind that. However, the lack of black crayons (again, for example) to color with because black represents something dark and potentially threatening to a child's growth...??? Well, yes, that is indeed a bit much for me. That's not necessarily what I would proclaim to be balanced.

So, when a recent visit to Vanderbilt's Kennedy Center to get some guidance on how to navigate the not-so-great public school system in Nashville and the overwhelming options for private school pointed us right towards Waldorf, I was a little surprised. Having had a terrible Montessori experience, I wasn't sure sending Jude to a (please forgive me for this terminology) touchy-feely school was really a great idea.

I've always stood behind the notion that he needed more structure; that routine was a wonderful thing for a boy with a wandering mind and the sometimes consuming need to constantly move. But apparently, I am incorrect in that thinking. And quite honestly, the school we are in now in all of it's wonderful textbook structure, red tape, and stereotypical public school ways, has actually sent our boy into a mild tailspin of regression. Sure, regression is normal for atypical kids, but the older they get, they harder it is to realign.

The great news about our appointment overall was that I was not only enlightened by the aptitude of this doctor but also by his support of what I've known all alone: that this isn't Autism. He asked that we forget we'd ever heard the word, that it had ever entered our brain. I felt like the pressure of the air had lifted to such an extent that I might actually float right off of my child-sized chair.

He also said that the GFCF diet we have tried really hard to maintain for so long now was great -- if you are trying to be healthy -- but that we'd be better off spending that money on private school tuition to Waldorf. (Where was he when I needed him three years ago? I'm sure the amount of money I've spent is beyond obscene.)

Not to say that we won't still stay as casein free as we can because we know for sure he's intolerant to dairy (and quite honestly, I prefer gluten-free at this juncture), we certainly won't allow ourselves to be as stressed out about as we have been. The number of waffles alone we've gone through to find the right taste, consistency and texture? We are a walking focus group for just about every brand in the market.

Another important statement he made that has continued to resonant with me since our meeting is "GFCF won't make your child talk." We certainly do not have the issue of him not talking anymore but those six little words would have made the world of difference to us three years ago.

I would like to say, however, that while that is probably true (and maybe we knew it all along but wanted to try whatever we could that was a natural approach to treatment), I still support the theory that it can help with the moods of those kids that fall into the atypical category. Any allergist/nutritionist will tell you that a kid with a dairy intolerance is going to be pretty cranky after downing a milkshake. And I can tell you that a less cranky atypical child is a whole lot easier to work with than one who just wants you to stop talking and find something else to do with your time.

But I digress. There is still part of me that's worried that the Waldorf approach may be too flexible for my child but I'm willing to (just like with the GFCF diet) give it a try. I'm beyond thrilled to throw the "A" word out of my vocabulary. We will still struggle with the "what," we just don't get caught up on the "why." What is it exactly if it's not ADHD, SPD, OCD, ODD, Aspie, ADD, etc. etc. etc.? I don't really know. We may just be GRAY -- in the gray area, and that's ok. If life has taught me anything at all, it's that I've met the most interesting people in the world dancing in the gray area.

More to follow...