For years I have been trying to get a firm diagnosis of what my son Jake has. We have gone to doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and an Autism center. He has had EEG’s to check for seizures because he would blank out and when he was very small had jerky type movements expecially when trying to go to sleep. He has been extremely aggressive, highly anxious at times, obsessive about collecting things, explosive in his temper, out of control etc. He is bright but is only now beginning to read (he is 10 years old) and has had a hard time learning things like his address, phone number or how to spell his last name. He is a hoarder, having great difficulty getting rid of things like broken toys, magazines, papers, cardboard boxes, shirts that no longer fit him…. He has a collection of “treasures” – buttons, bottlecaps, feathers, styrofoam, seeds – other “collections” he has includes a rock collection (any rock he picks up outside) and a stick collection. Once he brought in a “ball” of grass that he placed in a plastic sack and kept in his room and instructed me not to throw it away. He told me his hobby is thinking…He will pace and pace and pace and be totally lost in thought as he does so. Sometimes when he was tired of pacing he would lay in his bed lost in thought, just daydreaming. Babies and toddlers easily annoy him (he has been kicked out of almost every daycare we have tried due to aggressive behavior towards younger children). Noisy environments infuriate him and he cannot stand being around people who speak a different language. We put off having a pet because Jake’s behavior towards animals is unpredictable.
So after years of going to doctors, clinics etc his “diagnosis” is that he has ADHD, General Anxiety Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and PDD NOS – Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (which basically means that while he may exhibit autistic type behaviors he does not fit into the mold that is classified as Autism). In other words, he has “Jake Syndrome” – his diagnosis is that he is uniquely Jake and that he does not fit squarely into any clinical definition of anything. It is a bit frustrating because while there are books out there that deal with specific issues like autism or ADHD, there are not any that deal with everything that Jake is experiencing. I have to read lots of different books on lots of different conditions and pick out the things that seem to pertain to Jake and use that information to help him at home and at school. One of the best books I have read is “The Explosive Child” because it deals with kids with all kinds of issues and how to manage their behavior in positive, personalized ways – what things are important to address and what things you can let slide. If Jake wants to wear his shoes to bed that is not a big deal, but if he wants to throw his shoes at his brother that is another issue and must be dealt with immediately. Pick your battles.
Dealing with “Jake Syndrome” is a challenge that is to be sure, but has made me more compassionate towards others. That’s a good thing in itself.