I’m never quite sure what to write about this subject. Nickie has always been an amazing little girl. The surgeries she had when she was a baby caused a delay in her development. For example, average babies crawl around 8 months old or so. Nickie didn’t start crawling until she was about a year and a half old. Average babies begin walking around a year old. Nickie didn’t walk until she was two and a half.
On the other hand, Nichole’s mind grew leaps and bounds ahead of her body. When she was little, we had those alphabet refrigerator magnets. The other kids would use the letters to write random words on the fridge. They’d also draw pictures and label them and put them on the fridge (for example, they’d draw a picture of a cat and write “cat” under it). I credit my fridge as the reason that Nichole could read when she was three years old. The ONLY mistake she ever made was when Robbie had made a rainbow out of tissue paper at school. The teachers had them put their name on them, and put a magnet on the back, so when he brought it home from school, on the fridge it went. So for weeks, Nichole thought you spelled rainbow ‘R-O-B-B-I-E’. This did NOT amuse Robbie.
She loved books, and loved being read to until she was about five. Then she decided that the books we had weren’t nearly good enough. So she started making her own. Now I’m not sure if you’ve ever been around a child with Aspergers before, but they tend to go through obsession cycles. First, she was obsessed with Blues Clues, for a year or two. Then, she finally left that obsession and latched onto Backyardigans. They lasted another year, before she added a few more shows. Her obsession became the television channel Nick Jr. Another couple of years of that and she shifted her obsession to Mario Bros video games. About a year into that, the other kids introduced her to Pokemon (the only one of her obsessions that I just couldn’t comprehend). Pokemon lasted about three years, I think, before her obsession shifted back to Mario and Luigi. Anyway, my point was when she started writing her own stories and making her own books (typing paper and a stapler), she wrote about whatever she happened to be obsessed about. Nichole never gave a damn about copyright infringement.
When Nickie started preschool, her teachers absolutely loved her. They’d tell me constantly that talking to her was like talking to a very tiny adult, because her vocabulary skills were amazing. Nichole wouldn’t say she was thirsty. She’d tell me she’s feeling parched and could use a drink. When she’d overhear us discussing a problem, she’d talk about what a calamity we’d gotten ourselves into. I suppose when you’re being raised with three older siblings, you learn bigger words.
Despite her vast vocabulary and amazing mind, she didn’t start kindergarten until she was six. While her mind was leaping and bounding all over the place, her body was trying to catch up. She wasn’t potty trained until her sixth birthday.
Once she started school, her reading skill was always two to three years ahead of schedule. Her mind started to wander (I believe out of boredom) and the schools started to suspect that she had ADHD. By second grade, the teachers were at their wit’s end with her. They begged me to take her to a doctor and see about medicating her so they could get her to focus on something. I resisted for a long time. Nichole’s creativity and imagination is not something I wanted to dull with medication. She was truly an amazing child (still is!) and I didn’t want to zombify her so she’d sit still and stare at her teacher. Do you think that was selfish of me? Probably….
At the beginning of third grade, I finally agreed to talk to her pediatrician about the whole ADHD thing. Darcie had been taking meds for ADD for years, and doing well, so I sucked it up and took Nichole. She had a behavioral assessment by Nationwide Children’s Hospital back when she was six, because her kindergarten teacher had suspected Asperger’s. They had decided that she had ADHD, which I vehemently fought. Nichole wasn’t even hyper. Her obsessions could keep her for hours in one spot. How is that the definition of ADHD? They told me that out of the ten markers needed for a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, Nichole only had nine. I blinked a couple of times in confusion. Nine out of ten, so what’s the problem? They said the marker she didn’t meet was the social one, which is apparently a very “telling” marker. Nichole has always been very social. She’s quite the little entertainer, and loves to make people laugh. THIS is not a “typical trait” for Asperger’s. Apparently they weren’t aware that no two children are alike.
So in third grade, when I spoke to her pediatrician about ADHD, he agreed to start her on the same medication that her older sister took, only a lower dose. Nichole had a very hard time trying to swallow pills. Hell, she’s thirteen years old now and still can’t do it. I tried everything to get her to swallow them. I even crushed them against the prescription directions. After two weeks, she might’ve gotten about 6-8 pills into her system. And then our world was rocked again….
My nine year old daughter was suddenly thrown into puberty. Hair was suddenly growing, breasts were developing. Mama dropped those pills into the toilet and flushed. Too late. Within the next year, she had started her period. You know what happens to a ten year old that starts her period? She stops growing taller. Our pediatrician told us that a girl really only grows taller for about two years after they start their menstrual cycles. So however tall Nichole will be at 12 would probably be her permanent height. She’s currently 5’1″.
I spoke with several other doctors and psychologists and psychiatrists that agreed that the behavioral assessment was dead wrong. My child has Asperger’s.