I can actually pinpoint the day, probably down to the minute, when life with my youngest changed. Drastically.
We had just left the beach on the way home from a trip to Florida when she began to cry and complain of stomach pain. Diarrhea developed, and I thought she’d simply picked up a “bug” of some sort on our trip.
The next two months, she had constant diarrhea or constipation. Not quite 3, all potty-training went out the door. She refused and made going to the bathroom a battleground. She even developed a blockage that took 5 days of medication and fluids to clean out of her, poor kid.
The next few months were continued trips to the pediatrician with “come and go” fevers and rashes all over her body, typically on her backside, that I called her “polka-dots“. Our pediatrician continued to say kids often got rashes after a virus, and it didn’t appear serious.
Meanwhile, her behavior worsened. My formerly sunny child was becoming unhappy, sullen, defiant and angry. It culminated in a tantrum which I had never seen before — nearly half an hour — of screaming, kicking, biting, pinching and hair-pulling as I tried to hold her down and keep her from hurting herself and me. When it stopped, it literally appeared as if someone had flipped a switch on her. She stood there panting, tears streaming down her face, and couldn’t tell me what had just happened.
It was July of 2012. Another mother had recently mentioned gluten as a tie-in to behavior problems. Researching the topic stunned me — I felt I was reading about my own child in other parents’ stories. I took her back to the pediatrician to have her tested for Celiac (which she did not have) and removed gluten from her diet the next day.
In four days, she was different. Within a few short weeks, other people started seeing it. I could live with my child again.
But eradicating gluten (and dairy a few months later) didn’t get rid of her quirks. Clothing had to fit just right. Certain noises made her clap a hand over one ear. Lights in the house were “too sunny”. She hugged too hard. Talked too loudly. She was constant motion, noise and activity. And defiance!
I continued to research and felt fairly certain I was looking at Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). It took three specialist visits (with the first two telling me I was on the right track) before that was confirmed in February 2013 — nearly 18 months after that fateful drive home from Florida.
The diagnosis of ODD came in October of 2013, after months of waiting to get in to see yet another specialist.
So join me as I begin a journey of healing with my precious daughter — helping her thrive, and learning to be a better mama to her and her amazing older sister.