Sunday, July 6, 2008

Introduction and Cast of Characters

Welcome to My Bipolar Baby. This blog is about the experiences I have had raising "challenging children". I have given birth to three wonderfully demanding boys and have helped to raise a fourth, my step son (who, I have to admit, has hardly been a challenge at all). My hope is that parents and teachers of unusual (often times difficult) children can get something out of my experiences. Our family has been dealing with such things as ADHD, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Anxiety, Bipolar, learning differences and disabilities, and academic giftedness (particularly in math) for the last 16 years. People often hear pieces of my story, or ask for specific advice, and say things like "you should write a book," or "why don't you have a blog?"

So, here it is. Some of my postings are a bit more clinical and meant to be informative to those seeking answers (like the three part posting on The Diagnosis). Many are emotional and poignant snap shots coming from the slide show of our lives. They are about school, and friends, and what it is like to be the parent of a challenging child, or the brother of a bipolar boy. My hope is that they capture the tragedies and triumphs of raising such children. Please share this blog with anyone you might think could benefit from it.

Please know that I am not a trained or licensed therapist or a doctor. Though I have spent a great deal of time researching, reading and asking for professional advice, mostly, my knowledge comes from living it - being in the moment with these children as we all struggle to make things right. I am, as many of us are, self-taught.

It is easiest to read these posting knowing who the children are and what issues they struggle with. Let me say they were all difficult babies. They all had reflux and digestive problems (especially Tommy), and none of them particularly liked sleep (especially Sam).

Sam is my first born and is now 16 years old. He suffers from ADHD, Sensory Integration Dysfunction and is highly gifted academically. I believe he is one of the smartest people I will ever know. He had been socially delayed for many years, and at one point I feared he had Asperger's. He is now very social in high school, yet he is still somewhat "emotionally unintelligent".

Tommy is my second born, and could not be a sweeter and more empathetic child - when he is himself. He is now 10 years old. He has several diagnoses, most importantly (in that it effects the biggest parts of his life) is Bipolar. He also suffers from Sensory Integration Dysfunction (including eye tracking issues and auditory overloads), and learning disabilities. He is also gifted in math (though not to the degree Sam is).

Will is my third born and is 8. He is handsome, athletic and blessed with a good sense of humor. He suffers from ADHD and Anxiety. He is an overall bright kid, working above grade level (again, especially in math). Being the youngest of these boys, and so close in age to Tommy, has been the biggest challenge in his life. He can often act impulsively and inappropriately at times.

Ben is my step son and has no diagnoses. He is almost 23 years old and will graduate college with a degree in Computer Science in December '08. He is also academically gifted, mostly so in math and science. However, he is the best reader and writer of the bunch. His main stream behavior and attitude have been a source of comfort over the years.

(I will note that as I work to get this blog up and running, I have focused on Tommy and his Bipolar diagnosis, as this has been the most demanding and time consuming part of my life as a parent. But, I intend to discuss a variety of topics related to all my children as time goes on.

Please enjoy, comment and pass along to others.

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