There were little signs of problems in preschool.
When he was 3, Adam’s teacher mentioned that he was silly and disruptive. She worried it would get worse when he was 4, but it didn’t. Things must have calmed down, because she didn’t mention it again.
Then in kindergarten his behavior became more difficult. He started having meltdowns. One time he thought he was going to leave school with me for a doctor’s appointment and when the appointment was cancelled, he screamed and screamed because he had to stay in school. I remember walking away from the classroom listening to his major meltdown and wondering if there might be something wrong with my little boy. But then there were days— and sometime weeks — without incident. He was sweet and charming.
In first grade, he was the teacher’s go-to for turning on the lights or running things to the office. He had trouble sitting still, the teacher said. One day she called me to tell me he was having a hard day. He had issues in gym; he’d gotten angry and ran out of class. He might need a little extra TLC when he got home, she said. Adam’s first grade teacher had a special place in her heart for him despite the fact he wasn’t the easiest kid.
Around that time the tantrums got worse. He’d rip his sheets off his bed and throw them out the door. He threatened to cut his favorite bear with scissors. Once, he even threatened to cut himself. That’s when we took him to therapy the first time.
By third grade, Adam was diagnosed with ADHD or anxiety or maybe a bit of both. It’s never been totally clear. All he knew was that he had anger issues. He was impulsive. He’d get mad, hit a classmate and then feel awful about it. We tried different medicines, counseling and even a bit of hypnotherapy. As we tried to figure it out, life went on.
We posted a story this month about problems that surface in preschool and the red flags preschool teachers look for. It’s often the first time signs of learning or behavioral issues become apparent. If you have concerns about your child, check out the story. It might give you some clues that could set you on the right path.
We were proactive with Adam. We had him tested, and we’ve tried to help him anyway we can. It’s not been an easy road, but it’s so gratifying to see his growth. He graduated from middle school last year as a Presidential Scholar. High school this year has been a bit rocky, but it’s so much better than I ever imagined it would be. Maturity does wonders and sometimes I can see glimpses of the man he may one day become.
Adam’s still not perfect, and he’s most likely the reason my hair is gray, but he’s made great strides since preschool. And I’m so proud of him.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 16, Lilly, 14, Adam, 14, and Jonah, 10.