Mom Truths…Living With The Reality of Behavioral and Learning Disorders

Standing in the kitchen I hear their little voices chattering on about Star Wars and imitating the sounds of star fighters zipping through the air.

Slowly so as not to interrupt their play, I sneak around the corner to watch them battle light sabers. Their interaction makes my heart sing and happy tears burn the back of my eyelids.

Looking at them you would think they are perfect. Each finger, each toe perfectly formed, their speech audible and intelligent, and their motor skills apparent in the way they run through our house with reckless abandon.

However, sometimes things aren’t always what they appear to be. Underneath the perfection lies small bits of brokenness that only those who are closest can see.

My eldest son was broken.

I use the term “was” because it’s been a year since our lives were shattered. It sounds so dramatic now, after the dust has settled. However at the time, we were broken into tiny little bits and shards.

At the age of three, I noticed a difference in our oldest. His temper was short and his anxiety was high. There were outbursts in preschool, issues with hitting, spitting and throwing chairs.

At the time we had written it off as a transitional adjustment, new preschool room and new expectations. However, as preschool graduation came and went it became apparent that something was amiss.

The #$%& hit the fan upon the first month of kindergarten. He would act out in class, daydream, be violent, scream at the top of his lungs and disrupt the entire classroom. Often we would receive phone calls notifying us that he was in the principal’s office for an in-school suspension. He was FIVE!

I dreaded each and every school day, wondering at what point my phone would ring with news of that day’s misbehavior.

Each night at home was a battle and both my husband and I grew weary from the fight.

Eventually, thanks to the assistance of his kindergarten teacher, we were able to get to the root of the problem, and help our son. We completed a gazillion bubble sheet questionnaires, the result was a diagnosis of ADHD, ODD and an undetermined behavioral disorder.

Medications were prescribed and by that December we finally had our son back.

However, the effects of “missing” crucial learning time during the first six months of kindergarten took their toll.

He was hopelessly behind, and his handwriting was atrocious. I’m not just talking about crooked letters and a random oblong “o” I’m talking the equivalent of a scribble on the page.

The fact that he’s left handed made it difficult for me to grasp his hand in mine and guide it through the letter-making process. While we had his behaviors under control, we now had to focus on more issues.

I wondered at what point we would catch a break. At what point could our family just “be”?

Yet again we were blessed with a support system that guided us in the right direction. A quick phone call to the Children’s Center for Therapy proved to be the break we so desperately needed.

Our son underwent an extensive evaluation, and it was determined that a combination of body mechanics and behavior made it difficult for him to write.

It was the chicken and the egg syndrome.

Edison would be given a written assignment in class, become frustrated when his letters didn’t look perfect and an outburst would occur. The outburst would result in more lost learning time and put him even further behind.

It was a horrible cycle and one that needed to broken.

We started our weekly appointments with Children’s Center for Therapy in January and already we are seeing a dramatic improvement in his handwriting.

The Reality of Therapy

Not only that, but his confidence has grown, and the outbursts about writing have decreased substantially.

I know my son isn’t the typical therapy patient. However, he’s the child that could have been left behind; the one that looks perfect on the outside, but is broken on the inside.

These are the children that can slip through the cracks, and eventually drop out of High School and or even worse. Edison is a prime example of the hope that can be found in the walls of a therapy office, there’s no shame in getting help.

There’s only hope.

That is our reality.

Brook {without the "e"} is a spunky faux redhead and former UI grad who has decided to call Iowa City her home for over 10 years. She met her husband on the internet, and they spend their days playing superheroes with their two boys, Edison (2007) and Grant (2010). She juggles mom life with a full-time job as a marketing consultant, competing in triathlons and writing her heart out on her personal blog She believes life is a journey, not a destination.


  1. Thank you for the post. Our daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers when she was 4, shortly before she turned 5 (she’ll be 7 in May). We had very similar issues when she was in preschool and kindergarten. I worried everyday when the phone rang that it woud be the school telling me to come and get her. 1st grade has been better. She has a full time para this year. And the Chidren’s Center for Therapy has been very helpful for us. We also have found a better med for her this year, I think what her doc tried first only made her jumpy. Her leg would shake when she was standing. It is hard for people to understand her issues unless they’ve been through it theselves.

    • Kristin – It is so very hard isn’t it? Truly no one can understand unless they have walked in your shoes. I’m so happy for you that things are better, and that Children’s Center for Therapy helped. The staff there are saints and they love our children like their own. Sending you hugs and hope on your journey. If you ever need to talk feel free to contact through my Facebook page at Redhead Reverie … I know how hard it can be to find others that understand. 🙂


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