Challenging toddler can become a successful adult

My oldest son had a lot of the same qualities as writer Chrissy Howe's son Teddy.

Christopher started life very colicky and did not sleep well at night. He was very loud and very verbal, but nobody could understand him other than my husband and me.

My son cried a lot and had no interest in playing with other children. He had no interest in learning or in any preschool stuff, but like Teddy, he was a genius with his creations. He would spend hours and hours drawing and making his masterpieces with Play-Doh, Legos, and Lincoln Logs.

But if Christopher was interrupted or if his little brother destroyed something before it was finished, his meltdowns would make your hair stand on end.

We had his preschool teachers tell us that there was something wrong with him and that we needed to get him tested. We were criticized so much by friends, family, and school personnel because he was different.

We were scared and unsure of ourselves, but we believed in our son. We let him be who he wanted to be, so long as he followed the basic rules of being kind, having manners, and being respectful to others, even though he was being disrespected in so many ways.

He did not start excelling in school until third grade; before that, he showed no interest at all. He knew everything; he just did not feel like participating in those years, which were very scary for my husband and me. (His doctors now suspect that he was high-functioning Asperger's, but he was never given that diagnosis.)

Chris is now 26. He graduated high school in the top 10 percent of his class and went to college with a few scholarships. He excelled in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He changed his major to law, and received more than a dozen full scholarships to law school. He just graduated and is doing amazing!

For many years, we did have to get Chris some extra help: speech therapy and counseling. We had a lot of road bumps along the way - that was not fun. I had a huge argument with his first-grade teacher over his eating habits. We had to file a lawsuit against his high school.

It was not pretty, but it was so worth it.

My advice to you and your husband: Do the best you can every day. Teddy's uniqueness is a gift, so continue encouraging it. He will come around in time in the areas in which he struggles.

Hang in there! You will be laughing about some of these challenges in 20 years.

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