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My son, Aedan, the middle child was diagnosed with a mood disorder last April and while they leaned towards bipolar I am uncertain if he truly has bipolar on his record for true diagnosis due to his age. Since bipolar runs in the family and he has always had the symptoms of that of my bipolar sister, I can honestly say he exhibits pretty much 100% of the symptoms of child bipolar. I don’t know if being bipolar is part of his issue with respecting personal space or if it’s just unique to him, but trying to teach him about personal space is proving to be somewhat difficult. It’s as if he is six years old in many ways but a little behind in other ways, the way he doesn’t respect personal space is as if he is a younger child who knows no boundaries. I am an extremely affectionate person, a hugger if you wish to call me that, so I get that I don’t always respect that boundary that many in our society place upon people. Sometimes I realize that in a line at the grocery store I may be standing a tad bit too close to the person in front of me, when they give me that look like what the heck, I back off.
Maybe that is where Aedan gets it from, his Mama but whatever the reasons for his lack in respecting personal space there are times when this lack of knowledge of personal space creates an issue. Like when he wants a hug, which lately has been all of the time, he can hang off of you. He also is about the height of my large boobs so it makes me extremely uncomfortable that he is hanging on me with his head in my boobs basically. I am trying to teach him personal space and that some body parts are private, but he just doesn’t seem to get it. It’s frustrating when he thinks my boobs are something that he can try to touch, not under shirt but just touch like a tap outside of the shirt and sometimes he just doesn’t get that those are my body parts and he needs to ask for a hug so that I can be prepared to hug him. When he is hanging off of me and then trying to tap my boobs like a baby would, I get frustrated and feel uncomfortable.
Aedan has this lack of respect for females in his life too. He truly feels that girls can’t do anything; they can’t win races, they can’t succeed in playing board games, he is so against females at times that even playing the game of Life he is found “marrying” a boy peg because he doesn’t want any girls in his Life car. It’s crazy. I have never had to deal with such behavior, even my four year old son is not like this. I have shown by putting my hands out what personal space is. I have explained that he can touch his own body parts anytime, they are his. No one else can touch them except Mama or Daddy when giving a bath or a doctor who needs to examine him. The normal boundaries one would teach a child. I also try to show him that while I love hugs, and he can hug me anytime, he needs to let me know he wants a hug or ask for a hug because unlike my other two kids who try to hug me in a normal way, he does it in this weird way, that makes everyone he tries to hug feel uncomfortable. I don’t get it. I am so confused on this behavior.
Back last year someone somewhere who was seeing him to help diagnosis him properly for proper parenting lessons for me and his Dad and also, if needed proper medication, they questioned that he may be autistic. Aedan does have some small signs of a spectrum of autism and the older he gets, the more I want to research autism because based on what little I know of autism, I almost have to wonder if that fits him more. Then I realize that for five years of Aedan’s life he was sheltered, he pretty much stayed home because he had such a mood up and down disorder that I couldn’t bring him anywhere for fear one of the bad moods would hit and he would go ape on someone. His mood changes where that bad, so I guess while he is technically six years old by birth rights, emotionally and socially he is just getting started. Last year in Kindergarten was the first time he had been outside of the home, interacting with other children and adults.
So maybe it’s not that he has “something wrong with him”, it’s that I have to step back as a parent and realize that while my son is six years old that he has never been demanded or taught to be a six year old, he wasn’t taught various normal every day life lessons that have been taught to my other children at the age appropriate time due to his mood disorder. Everyone tells me I am one patient Mom, so I know I will succeed in teaching Aedan the social skills he needs to know in both through parenting and living the way I live. It’s just hard sometimes because I think “he is six, why does he do this”.