That Day was the Beginning of Me

My oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD at 4 years old, which I jokingly (well sort of) say he got from his mother.

We are both high strung, multi-tasking, over analyzing, high functioning anxiety stricken people. He was challenging as teachers put it but I totally got him.

It was not a challenge in that I felt like I was looking in the mirror at myself and I could totally relate.

My youngest son began having issues very early on but not in the typical autistic way. And it was not the obvious ADHD/Anxiety way his brother had experienced either.

He met milestones early, had no real obvious behavioral or educational issues until his 3 year old daycare teacher told me that she knew Chase had his own way of doing things and she taught the other kids to just leave him alone.

It broke my heart but I was so thankful she didn’t try to change him and protected him like a mother would.

Kindergarten was a disaster and after extensive testing he was diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, Anxiety and sensory processing disorder.

All of the specialist through medicine and education stated they had never seen a case just like Chase. He was different and mind boggling even in the autism world. He was so smart I thought we could just slap on a diagnosis, get an IEP and move on our way.

While I was reminded often that wasn’t exactly how it would go and the real “ah-ha” moment came this past Mother’s Day.

Mother’s day began with my older two making me breakfast in bed and while Chase didn’t participate I never would have expected him to do so.

It wasn’t how he worked and that is quite ok. I decided to take the kids to the park, we had not been since moving to our new home and it had a skate park that my oldest is totally obsessed with.

We packed up and headed out.

My oldest headed to the skate park part and Chase decided to play with my middle child on the playground and I was trying to stand in the middle to keep my eye on them all (my husband was working).

It was a very hot day and lots of people were out and about.

All 3 of my children had very different ideas on what they wanted to do and I was struggling to keep them all happy yet near me so they were safe.

I decided I could play putt putt with my younger two while the oldest was in eye distance at the skate park so I paid for putt putt.

I am not sure exactly what set off Chase to have a melt down (besides the fact that it was hot and a long day with lots of people and activities) but this melt down came quickly and fiercely. I began to panic as I could see Chase panic and want to run.

We were at a park with a large parking lot and a very busy road right next to us.

The next 10 minutes felt like hours and I honestly don’t remember all the details. I know that I was speaking to Chase continuously trying to calm him down and keep him from darting off into traffic as he was backing away from me slowly but steadily.

I could tell by the look on his face he was about to turn and run. Thankfully my middle child understood my panic and hand motions and went to go get my oldest.

I still don’t know how they figured out exactly what I wanted them to do but we all circled around him in a triangular fashion without him really understanding what was about to happen. The more I moved toward Chase the more he moved away.

My oldest son was behind him (Chase had no idea) and when he got into arms reach he hugged Chase (kind of tackling him gently).

I was able to get to them and get Chase in the car. I am only 5 ft. and Chase is quite strong even at 8 years old. It was a fight and there was a lot of screaming and crying and everyone was staring!

My older two kids told me later how many people were staring and giving their opinions on the situation. I had not even noticed. My concern was on Chase’s safety.

Once in the car I had to wrestle to get him strapped in which he would not stay but ended up giving up in the floor of the car. I told my oldest two to get in and locked all doors and sat there and cried.

My oldest son became very upset crying and screaming at Chase that he had ruined Mother’s day. We all 4 were crying.

Chase began saying he didn’t want to live he wanted to die. I had never heard my child say that. It broke me in ways I can’t explain.

It broke me to see my oldest so upset over my feelings and so upset with his brother. I began to explain to my older two that Chase didn’t want to ruin my day and I explained and assured Chase that I loved him no matter what and it was all going to be ok. But I couldn’t help but wonder how was it going to be o?.

How do I give my children a “normal” life yet want to just stay home because it is safer and easier.

How do I make other people understand that Chase didn’t want to be scared and run, that I didn’t want to have to wrestle him to get him in the car, that we all just want to be loved and understood and enjoy our time together.

While I have always known Chase was different and always accepted his diagnosis, I believe that day was the beginning of me being more vocal in telling people about his differences.

It was the beginning of me educating others, including his siblings, on what to expect from Chase, what to do and how to react when things go wrong.

I began making plans and back up plans for the unexpected. I began looking for safe places, safe exits anywhere and everywhere I go.

I began to understand that life was different and that it was ok but I couldn’t hide the differences, and I surely couldn’t expect others to understand if I didn’t talk about them.

I now jump at the chance to educate myself and others constantly.

I teach my children to embrace Chase’s differences and everyone they come in contact with and it has truly made us all better people.

There are good days and there are bad but I am so thankful to have the family I have. My older two love their brother even through the difficult times and they know its ok to ask questions and talk to me honestly about how they feel.

They have been unbelievably supportive and for me and my husband that is a huge win.

Our expectations look a bit differently now but we celebrate our wins just as often as we can!

Written by, Dana Vinson Mull

I am married with 3 children – blended family. My youngest is on the spectrum high functioning. We live on the coast of NC and I’m currently battling breast cancer but will beat it!!!

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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