Parenting Alphabet Soup When Your Child Has Multiple Diagnoses

When you look into a bowl of alphabet soup, all you see is a jumble of letters.

Nothing makes sense.

And you might be able to collect enough letters to make a word but not a statement or anything worthwhile reading.

But kids who fit into the category of special needs alphabet soup are worth figuring out and fighting for.

Be sure to check out even more of my helpful parenting tips, too!

Our kids are worth fighting for! Parenting Alphabet Soup When Your Child Has Multiple Diagnoses #specialneeds #ld #autism #sensoryprocessingdisorder #adhd #add #dyslexia

In the special needs community, alphabet soup means your child has more than one diagnosis.

Suddenly you’re no longer just talking about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), you’re talking about additional challenges for your kid.

My 8 year old (Vman) has struggled with SPD since the moment he was born.

He came into this world screaming and it never let up until after years of pediatric occupational therapy.

Despite being so ingrained into the Sensory Processing Disorder community through my other blog The Sensory Spectrum, I never was sure if Vman’s over-the-top energy was a product of his SPD or something more.

Now I know it’s both.

Parenting Alphabet Soup: When Your Child Has Multiple Diagnoses

Let me back up.

Vman has had a devil of a time learning how to read.

The kid, who is as smart as a whip (and that’s not just the mom in me talking) can learn something if he hears it.

He soaks up knowledge like a sponge. But reading was a completely different ball game.

Together we worked all through 1st grade on reading.

Every night we would sit down to read one of the early reading books, and it would turn into a catastrophe.

Vman would melt into tears, yelling and sometimes even throwing things.

It was awful for the both of us.

The school kept telling us we just had to work more at home — some kids take longer than others to pick up on reading.

My gut told me differently but I followed their lead.

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All summer, Vman and I worked on his reading but he made absolutely no progress.

I knew something was wrong.

I asked my pediatrician what to do and he told me to go get him evaluated by a pediatric neuropsychologist.

He strongly suggested I do not rely on the school, as many schools are not properly set up to really figure out what’s going on with a child.

They do not necessarily have the training or tools to delve down into the core root of what’s happening and why.

It’s also not in their best interest to add in more kids they need to spend resources on. (I recommend you read my post When You Know Something is Wrong With Your Child.)

So I took matters into my own hands.

After getting evaluated by a neuropsychologist, we were finally able to put a label onto what Vman has been managing.

He has ADHD and a reading learning disorder (which encompasses dyslexia but that term is not recognized in the medical community).

I’m not the biggest fan of labels, but it helps us all understand what our child is facing and to search out resources that can better help us figure out what our child needs.

In the end, I better understand that while my kiddo is smart, he has some obstacles in his way that I need to help him overcome to succeed.

And while this combination of alphabet soup doesn’t help him in school, many successful people used the traits that come with a diagnosis such as ADHD to their advantage as adults.

For Vman, the ADD part of ADHD is affecting his brain’s ability to lock onto letters and words to translate them into a reading language, among other things.

I also know that I’m not crazy — Vman really is that active.

That’s the H part of ADHD. I’ve often wondered if he had a combo deal going on.

While it would have been nice to know when he was younger, at that age it also would have been tough to tease apart which part was his sensory challenges, which part is just being a toddler and which part (if any) is connected to hyperactivity.

This is why many professionals don’t diagnosis kids until they are at least eight years old.

Getting an alphabet soup diagnosis is overwhelming, disheartening and filled with sadness for many parents.

But alphabet soup isn’t an insurmountable sentence for our kids and it isn’t for Vman.

It’s an opportunity to help him conquer whatever barriers may appear and create a game plan.

I’m much better knowing how to attack a problem than to wonder what, if anything, is going on.

Now that we know, we have begun the process of tackling the next set of challenges and setting up Vman for whatever successes he chooses to pursue when he gets older.

Read more about Special Needs Parenting on Mommy Evolution.

Learn more about sensory challenges or to join our inclusive community, visit The Sensory Spectrum.


    I am chuckling because our titles are so similar this month <3
    I am sighing because our guys have so much to grapple with, and yes, labels go both ways…
    Luckily they are smart and strong and brave — and they have mamas who give their all…

  2. Our story is so very similar. My Little Man also wears labels of SPD, ADHD, LD (for both reading and math), and also anxiety. I so look forward to when this long struggle with school is behind us. Having an IEP has been a good tool, but it’s certainly not the end. Is it 2021 yet?

    1. Susan, we are just starting on the path to ADHD,ASD,Learning disorder, anxiety. Any advice? He has developed so much fear of ABA principles he hides all that he likes, he gets riled up so much when they try to teach him frustration tolerance. How did you navigate?

  3. Yes, diagnoses mean answers and things you can work on together! He’s going to be a more successful, confident adult thanks to this information and your unyielding support – take it from one who knows 🙂

    1. Thanks, Rachel. It is definitely a process — and an emotional one at that as a parent. But my kiddo is absolutely worth it!

  4. I’m glad you took matters in your own hands and sought the diagnosis for your son. You are right- schools are often not equipped to understand the complexity of the issue the child is facing. It’s good that you didn’t wait any longer to seek help with your son’s academic progress. Obviously it gets harder the further they fall behind, and having a negative mentality about reading just compounds the issue. Smart mamma and a smart young man!

    1. You’re right — once they start falling behind it’s tough to actually catch up. And going through this process, I’m surprised at how many parents either didn’t figure out their kids were struggling for a while or moved things along slowly… time is of the essence!

  5. I totally understand you when you say “I am not crazy, he really is that active”. I have an ASD child with fairly severe SP issues, and hyper activity. I understand what it is to have a child just wake up screaming. Knowing what it is and figuring out what will help is definitely the key. Glad to hear you took matters into your own hands 🙂

  6. I’m beginning to deal with multiple issues myself. While my SPD kiddo is only 6, both myself and his teachers have noticed his difficulty with math. He’s always been good at counting but has problems putting up 7 fingers. Like you said, I’m not sure if this is an issue with his SPD or if he has a math learning difference. Time will tell. He is being pulled out during math to work on the basics with a special ed teacher. We are due for an IEP in March and I have decided to wait until then and see how much he has improved before taking any next steps. But while I want to do whatever is necessary to help my son, I also feel for him because yet it is another struggle.

  7. I’m so thankful I ran across this article today! My son is almost 12, in the sixth grade, and reads at a 2nd grade level. I’ve ALWAYS suspected dyslexia, but have never been able to get someone who knows how to test for it. He’s had eye therapy for a condition that causes extreme fatigue (that helped just a tiny bit). Homework struggles are the worst, and always have been, even with extra help from teachers, after-school help, I’ve hired tutors, helped myself (which usually just ends in both of us losing our minds 🙁 ) It usually takes him about 4 hours to complete one worksheet, even with me staying on him to keep focused. It makes me feel awful because I know if he could help, he would, but on the other hand I struggle to truly understand what’s going on in his mind. He’s an intelligent kid, brilliant in math and science, and anything hands on. He’s always had a broad vocabulary, and when he enjoys something, he’s totally focused on it. We live in a rural community, he was diagnosed with adhd by a general practioner and now has his medication managed by a junior psychologist at a mental health clinic. Now I know to start researching where to find a neuropsychologist and get him the correct diagnosis and help! Thank you so much for sharing your story! How has your son’s reading improved since the diagnosis? What kind of help and strategies are used to help him?

    1. For my son, we actually started from the beginning with reading for him, returning to straight phonics with a tutor. A year later, he’s reading Harry Potter! Figuring out what’s going on and then really do the work in the way your kiddo thinks makes all the difference.

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