“Nate doesn’t know any better!”
Coming to the understanding that my son, “Doesn’t know any better” was not easy for me. When Nate would pinch me, grab me, scratch me, pull my hair, and spit on me, I just believed he understood what he was doing. In my mind he was hurting me because he hated me and he was seeking retribution towards me, because I didn’t give him what he wanted or I didn’t allow him to have his way.
“He knows that he is hurting me.”
“He knows that he is causing me pain.” I would say after an incident where I would nurse and medicate a bloody wound.
At times it looked as if Nate understood that his actions were wrong. He could hit me one moment, and when I would tell him “No” or “Stop,” he would affectionately, lean his head against me, as if he was apologizing. At other times he would softly pull my face close to his, and give me a kiss, as his way of making amends for hurting me.
“There is nothing wrong with this boy!” I told myself.
Yet, after years of battling Nate and believing that my son had some sort of vendetta against me, I realized, “Nate, really doesn’t know any better.”
Nate was born with CHARGE Syndrome. Besides the physical anomalies, there is the psychiatric part as well. Although, I understood this as I raised my son, it took me a while to truly accept that Nate’s behavior was a result of his psychological development and his diagnosis. As I researched Nate’s diagnosis in relation to his CHARGE Syndrome, read a number of articles in medical and educational journals, and sought the help of both a psychologist and psychiatrist, I learned that Nate has a behavior disorder that for the most part, he can’t control.
Nate’s behavior disorders ranged from impulsivity, hyperactivity, and more. In addition to these concerns, I also considered the fact that Nate has difficulty communicating his needs, which at times, causes him to lash out. Having all these concerns, made it difficult for him, which caused me to conclude that my child truly “Doesn’t Know Any Better!”
Accepting that Nate doesn’t know any better and that he has a behavior disorder was freeing for me. I could stop taking each incident personal, believing that he hated me and wanted to do harm to me. Instead, knowing this information guided me in seeking help for my child.
Over the years, Nate has received behavior health services, and psychological and psychiatric support. Even now as he lives in a residential facility, he has a boy psychiatric support and a behavior plan to help with his daily life.
However, the most important lesson that I learned from the realization that Nate “Doesn’t know any better,” is that I needed to have patience. I also needed to give my child what he requires the most – Love, Compassion, and Grace.