Neurodiverse Twins: A status report.

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Periodically, I want to share with you my own parenting journey. I’m in the thick of it, just like you.

Both of my twins are neurodiverse: one with ADHD and one with mild dyslexia. We pinpointed the ADHD in my daughter first , and though ADHD may be termed a hidden disability, there was nothing hidden about my daughter’s difficult behavior both at home and at school. As we made our way through the diagnosis and management process, we didn’t realize my son, who does not have ADHD, had been developing a self-image as the good kid in the family with his sister being viewed as the bad kid. Just as we were getting our daughter’s ADHD under control, we started to realize that our son was struggling with reading and writing and after further investigation, realized he has mild dyslexia.

It was an unfortunate timing of events. In his mind, my son went from being the shining star in the family to a kid with problems while his sister simultaneously went from problematic to much better behaved…and reading is not a challenge for her. Needless to say, my son is now struggling mightily to re-cast himself in our family and in his own mind. Admittedly, my son dealt with a few more blows to his self-image than just the switcheroo with his sister (some friends moved away and his grandmother passed away), but I think this upheaval of his self-image in our family was the starting point of what has been a difficult few years for him. He is struggling with friendships, school behavior and home behavior. He is currently not the happy-go-lucky kid that he once was, and I am hoping we can get him back to a place of confidence sooner than later.

So how do you handle a crisis in your child? Here’s what we’ve done so far:

  • We wallowed in self-doubt and self-blame, and got angry when we shouldn’t have, and we felt helpless for a while…just being honest.

  • We decided we could not handle these concerns on our own. We enlisted help in the form of a therapist, increased school communication and meetings, and we hired a private tutor to address the dyslexia.

  • We are doing our best to spend more time with our children as a family and one-on-one. My son and husband will be taking an epic fishing trip this summer.

  • We try to play up his strengths as much as possible. He’s a great athlete, a lego enthusiast and he’s very good in math and science at school.

  • We talk a lot about what he can and cannot control as a way to prepare for potentially difficult situations as well as debrief situations that have not gone well.

  • It’s possible he has devolved into depression. I’m seeing signs. That’s another set of issues in which a medical professional will be necessary.

  • We work on intentional breathing.

We’ve been actively working on helping our son through this rough time for about a year now, and we’ve seen some progress, but not a lot. I remind myself daily that he spent about six years building up his persona before it got knocked down, so to rebuild it again will take time. More time than I like.

As I write this, we are on vacation in one of his favorite places in the world. I have a completely irrational hope that next week he’ll be back to my happy boy, that he just needed this little break to bring him back to confidence and peace. Of course, this won’t be true. But I do think a week away has been great for him too. And now, I need to stop writing and go help him dig, “the biggest hole on the beach!”