Once he had a good grasp on Elijah, he drew the below diagram. He explained that Tic Disorder (or Tourette's), ADD and OCD/anxiety, when combined, can mimic autism (the shaded area). This is EXACTLY what Elijah's neurologist recently said to us, almost word for word. Super interesting. So again, Elijah doesn't fall into any one category. He has tendencies toward about every single category, though!
And this doesn't really help him at all in school. He is currently receiving special education services under the Deaf and Hard of Hearing label, which is great and necessary. But the central focus is not directed toward what he really needs help with--social skills, attention and anxiety. It's a tricky situation. There are many pieces to this puzzle and there is no ONE answer, as we have known for so long. For whatever "reason," Elijah has bits and pieces of all of the following: Tic Disorder, anxiety, OCD, ADD or ADHD and autism. That's not to mention his hearing challenges and the frustrations that must go along with that. And then there is the sleeping difficulties, which magnify all of the above and which also may or may not be a result or any or all of the above!
Notice part of the word I jotted in the corner of this diagram. I wrote "diminished" because that is a word Dr. M used to describe our situation with E's schooling. When Elijah is not understood by his educators, his whole medical history and everything he has been through becomes diminished. That is exactly how I've felt this year and I've been unable to verbalize that. There are expectations of him that are very black and white, and he just is not black and white and cannot be treated as such.
Another note I wrote down from the visit was Periventricular Leukomalacia, or PVL. Dr. M explained to us that sometimes children born with congenital heart defects also are born with PVL, which is basically a brain injury that affects motor control and other developmental delays. It's a little bit difficult for me to read about it, although it would explain a lot. I can't believe I have never heard this until now. If Elijah does have PVL, it means that damage to some pathways in his brain was done at birth, or even before, due to either lack of oxygen or bad circulation. This is something we will explore.
What do we do now? Dr. M feels that we need to address some important things at school. I personally feel like we just need to get through the rest of first grade and move on from there. It might be a good idea to get him into a social skills group somewhere to work on the anxiety he deals with with his peers. Also, Dr. M feels we need to do deeper psychological testing. Possibly at school, but definitely with a neuropsychologist. I called the neuro-psych and of course they need loads of paperwork, both from us and school, before they can schedule an appointment, which won't be until at least May. More waiting. I feel slightly impatient, but mostly like we continue to figure more and more out about Elijah. I must sound like a broken record, but we are getting there. And Dr. M did have a few medication recommendations that he thought would be a good fit. He obviously wants to run them by E's sleep specialist/cardiologist first. These meds would hopefully get to the root of E's issues instead of just causing him to feel sleepy, if that makes sense. Let's take care of the anxiety and OCD and maybe then he will be able to sleep better. We obviously don't want him on meds long-term, but getting him through first grade without any further major drama is a big goal.
I was super impressed with Dr. M. He knew every detail about everything that we as Elijah's parents are feeling and dealing with. He was able to fully understand what a complicated "case" E is. There is no way to explain how good it feels to feel completely understood like that. And not just that, but to be given huge unspoken high-fives about what a good job ALL of us have done to get to this point, despite the challenges and struggles and frustrations. Elijah's list of AMAZING doctors continues to grow! He has the best people caring for him and I mean that with my whole heart. We are very blessed and thankful!
That's all for now, ha! If you made it through this entire post, you get an extra pat on the back. :) Thanks for reading! Praying you all have a great rest of your week.