I train sex and relationship education on a regular basis and often have discussions with parents, carers and professionals alike about the subject of ‘puberty.’ I always said that when Boy Wonder starts with this, I will blog about it as one of those subjects that until you ‘live it’ you cannot do it justice, I know that now!
Boy Wonder is a ten and a half year old boy with a diagnosis of high functioning autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, severe anxiety, PDA traits and Chiari Malformation type 1. He is looked after by a range of clinicians in paediatrics and CAMHS who between them have diagnosed this collection of difficulties. Boy Wonder is described by many as a ‘complex child.’
It all started in January of this year, however it has taken until now to fully realise that this is it!! We had, had a pretty uneventful Christmas in terms of meltdowns and emotional turmoil which was very unusual for Boy Wonder. Usually we would be battling with the ‘Santa thing’ (strange man coming into the house etc) over excitement versus come down and the social situations that take a fair bit of recovery time. But no, it was okay. We put this down to Boy Wonder being at his new school and having a more settled time of it. The school is a specialist provision with a great deal of positive interventions and support and very small class sizes. Boy Wonder was managing well here with no medication for his ADHD, which he had been taken off a year previous due to significant weight loss and associated health problems.
Then came January and everything turned on its head! Almost overnight Boy Wonder started to experience rapid mood swings. He would go from quiet and withdrawn to raging within minutes. The rage presented as crying and hitting of his head with the heel of his hands whilst shouting. Basically, instant meltdowns without any real build up to them. Alongside this, Boy Wonder experienced significant processing delay. He would take minutes to take in what was being said to him or it wouldn’t process at all and bounce back without leaving a dent. This would last for a few days and then disappear, only to return after a couple of weeks as quick as it left. He remains in this cycle.
School started to experience problems with Boy Wonder. The occupational therapy input that they used to keep him calm and focussed was increased and still it bore little impact. He became very high and excitable and this combined with quick fire aggression became difficult to manage. However, the cycle was evident here too and as quick as it came, it went again.
The upside to Boy Wonder having very little consideration for his own dignity, was that any physical body changes would become apparent rather quickly. Nothing so far, so this confused matters somewhat and delayed the conclusion that this was indeed puberty.