It's especially interesting because through most of those years, James and I knew she was different, but we didn't have any way of understanding her differences. Why was she so challenging? Why did she struggle so much in areas that Amby did not? Her development was just so strange and singular. But when you are in it, I mean, in the thickest part of the forest, you can't really see anything but the daily trials coming at you bam bam bam.
Last year, she was in K5 and things were not going well. At all. We thought it was just the big changes in her life (D-I-V-O-R-C-E) and she'd get over it and settle down. Amby was fine, but Bea always struggled more with changes. It got out of control. We weren't sure what would happen first: flunking K5 or getting expelled for violence.
Finally in a last-ditch effort, I took her to a new pediatrician who works with a social worker and psychologist in her office. After meeting Bea and talking privately with me about Bea's issues (I make sure to not talk about these in front of the child), the MD made a quick and easy ADHD diagnosis. James and I expected that. Her regular pediatrician had said ODD, but we did our own research. Then the pediatrician said the words that stopped me in my tracks:
pervasive developmental delays
Doesn't that just sound awful? Don't even say it out loud. It's Autism Spectrum Disorder. Formerly, we would have said Aspergers Syndrome for someone like Beatrice, but terminology is changing as scientists learn more about this super complex issue.
So that began almost a year of research, insurance stuff, calling specialists, getting on waiting lists, emergency visits to Spartanburg Mental Health, seeking support and not finding it, learning new ways of dealing with a very challenging child and getting into therapy. And there's been a grieving process. I'd spent all of her first five years thinking she was just a late bloomer and it would all be "normal" soon enough. That fantasy is gone now.
Bea is in first grade. She loves math and science and her reading comprehension is remarkable. She can memorize like nobody's business (strange facts and number sequences, not things that would help her socially). I dress her and bathe her. She still hates to wear clothes. She doesn't have any friends her age, but now that she's on treatment, she can recite the names of her classmates and draw a chart to show where each one sits. She deals with a lot of anxiety and still has trouble managing big feelings. Tantrums. TANTRUMS.
So there's no happily ever after with this yet; she is six years old. It's just a context.