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  • When he was little, I knew he was quirky. He figured out how to speak the moment we started teaching him sign language not long after he turned one. When he was 18 months, he figured out how to mix colors. He loved talking to adults and had a hard time connecting with kids. He consumed media with incredible ability. When he was a preschooler, he could remember details from movies after watching it once. He could recall incredible details that would require most people to view it four or five times to remember it all. Quirky. Smart. So sweet.

    He got older and that quirkiness was getting him in trouble. He watched others closely to make sure they would follow rules. He would even break rules to try and control others. He'd also break a wall if he had to just to protect a friend. He used sign language to help a new kid from Korea fit in. He also got into a fist fight on the playground when other kids messed with his new friend.

    The quirk made it hard for him to take risks. Riding a bike included crying and screaming. He finally did it when a younger kid during a vacation asked if he wanted to go for a bike ride. Swimming took years and years. He finally added jumping off the diving board when he was nine. Other challenges included the fireman pole, the slide and skateboard.

    When he was seven we took him to an "expert." We filled out forms and he had a big interview. The doctor put electrodes on his head and said his frontal cortex fires on high at all times. It makes it hard for him to get out of high emotional states. Super happy or super upset... it's hard to get away from it. The things he loves, he loves it big. The things he hates, he can't let it go. We were told to get him more exercise. Try yoga. Get rid of high fructose corn syrup. Try to help modify his lifestyle to help him succeed more at school.

    He's bright. He's creative. He can't say focused at school. By fourth grade, his teacher said he was starting to fall behind. He was feeling bad about all of the times he'd lose focus at school. He was telling himself how he was a terrible kid... When he is awesome. He's loving. He makes really stupid decisions and immediately realizes how wrong it was.

    We knew we had to do something else to help him. We avoided medication because we believed his ADHD wasn't a standard ADHD and we could help him without medication. But after he felt so crushed from consistently feeling bad about his world, we were open to try something different.

    On the first day he took ADHD drugs, he came home asking to change schools. He instantly saw how some kids react to him. He realized he rubs some people the wrong way. He felt uncomfortable in his social world. In class, he was finally excelling. He could complete quizes. He was getting excellent grades on tests. It was a huge success. When drugs fade, his challenges return. He gets upset when he's making bad choices. His emotions run over and it's hard to move past it.

    We have a new agreement. He and I. He promises to run one mile a week with me. Running is an escape for me. It's quiet. It's my way to chill. My hope is to show him how running helps. So we tried. And he whined. He begged to walk. He complained. But I started giving him tiny running goals. He met those goals. Each little stretch of running I could give him my running tips. I told him why it helped me. He felt a little proud. I was very proud.

    We're making more progress. He's proud of himself. He's succeeding. But he has so much more to learn and grow. My only hope is we can help him before we lose him. We're a year and a half away from middle school where everything goes to crap even if you don't have a non-conforming brain.

    He's going to be the coolest adult. I just hope we can go the distance and get him there.
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