Punkin started crawling at 13.5 months, walking at 16 months, and using a rare single word around 24 months. Looking at that, you might think he does things at a slow pace. You would be wrong.
At age two we all started joking about Ritalin; at age three those jokes became a lot more serious. At four I broke down and couldn't take it anymore. He couldn't function in school, he couldn't follow a simple direction, his autistic behaviors were escalating, and we were a tornado of limbs any time we attempted to leave the house.
I know. Isn't that what all four year old boys are like? Um, no. Most preschoolers do not fall out of their chair 12 times while eating a meal. Most preschoolers can sit and look at a preferred book or play with a preferred toy for longer than 30 seconds. Most preschoolers do not wail their arms and legs like a pinwheel, hitting anyone who may come within a 2 foot radius of their body. Most preschoolers who legitimately want to obey their mother when she says, "Walk to the car," will do it and not run into the street.
I called the pediatrician and asked for a referral to a Fragile X specialist -- a woman who is a neurologist and has done extensive studies on Fragile X. A woman who knows about medications and whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the National Fragile X Conference.
It was a simple visit, really. "He has ADHD." We started with clonidine, which was fine for a while, and then eventually switched to Ritalin. I remember being nervous, but ready. I also remember the first time we walked, hand-in-hand, into the grocery store, picked up a gallon of milk, stood in line to pay for it, and walked back out to the car. He stayed next to me; he walked with me. I didn't have to put him in a cart to buy a gallon of milk. I felt . . . normal.
I remember watching him play with toys -- pretending to use a wrench and a screwdriver beyond banging them together or waving them in the air in front of his face and being amazed that those skills were trapped inside his mind this whole time just waiting to get out.
And I remember not hearing, "He hit me" and instead, "He gave me a hug."
Medicating a young child is never an easy decision. And yes, I've seen and heard of it go terribly wrong. In our case, though, it was liberating. It was and still is the right choice for us. Now that he's headed to kindergarten, I'm glad that these issues are taken care of already. It's one less hurdle for him to have to jump.
He still has his quirks and his meltdowns. Pills aren't a cure-all. He isn't a "new" kid or a different kid; he's just able to be his fast-moving, cars-loving, paper shredding, dog barking, best self AND complete puzzles, sit at a table and eat, use slower speech, work with his teacher, and control more of his impulses.