The Mama Ninja Shop

Monday, June 17, 2019

Journey thru Her Storms

Lauren is my baby, my only daughter, and my last child.

When she arrived into our lives, she was a bundle of beauty and joy completing our little family of four.

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More than fifteen years ago, I still remember barely pushing and she was born. She nearly beat the doctor into the room!

And she hasn't slowed down since!

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Now she was a fussy baby, and as a toddler she could throw a tantrum like you wouldn't believe!

But she was, also, a super fast learner and growing so fast. It constantly amazed me at how quickly she picked up words, expressions, and even concepts at such a young age.

She was quickly growing out of her clothes and shoes, but not those tantrums! Oh my! She tested everyone's patience, some days to a point of desperation.

She was head strong and deliberate in her actions. It almost seemed like she was following a strict set of rules that she had placed on herself but even she didn't know why.

What I mean is that everything had to be done is a particular way, so much so that perfection was her only choice.

I'm not saying that she was just a perfectionist. She was (and still is,) but this behavior was far deeper than that.

Every activity, even ones she immensely enjoyed, ended in tantrums.

When she colored, if she went over the lines, she had a complete melt down.

When she played a simple game, she would repeat the rules to the point of it no longer being a fun game for anyone. 

When she played with play doh, it had to be left out so as not to destroy her creation.

When she left her room in the morning, she would memorize where everything was so that she would know if anything had been moved.

I began thinking that she was exhibiting obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Then the tics started.

Her first tics, were not alarming at all. And in the beginning, I didn't even recognize their being tics. I just thought it was something she would outgrow. Just as I had first thought about her was just a phase.

She would blink hard every now and then. But, hey, we live in the South. There is always something blooming getting our allergies all worked up!

Sometimes she would clench her jaw or make a "duck" face with her lips.

Then, she started making this noise in her throat. It sounded like a cross between a burp being held in and a muffled grunt.

After that her shoulders started to twitch. The multiple tics combined with the angry melt downs led her Doctors to treat her for Tourettes Syndrome.

We started medication and felt hopeful that our journey was getting brighter. She would be getting a chance at normalcy. We were wrong.

After the second month of being on the new medication her tics did slightly improve. However, all hell broke loose with her meltdowns.

Let me make something clear, here.

The term "meltdown" is overly used and completely misunderstood. It is used to describe tantrums, albeit due to lack of sleep, hunger, not getting your way, and a hundred other reasons.

When I say a meltdown, I mean a complete and utter break down of a child's emotional, physical, and psychological state. 

Merriam Webster defines meltdown as follows:

A break down of the core. That is what I mean when I say meltdown.

Lauren would lose all control to the point of after a meltdown, she would have no memory of what had just happened.

Her eyes would go dark, her face would become stern, and her voice would waver. Her breathing would become sporadic, almost to hyperventilation.

I would call them "episodes", but Lauren put a more significant title to them. She called them her "Storms."

The storms continued and progressively got worse, so much worse. I was to the point of desperation. And so was Lauren, she begged me to find out what was wrong with her. She was suffering and my family was falling apart.

I started researching the new meds she was taking and talking to the doctor, the pharmacist...anyone who would listen.

They finally listened, and Lauren was taken off that particular medicine due to the side effects she was experiencing. But it was in her system. So, we had to endure the storms for another 3 months for her system to be free and clear of it.

During those months, we began seeing a child psychiatrist. It was usually just she and I attending the sessions, as Barry couldn't take off work to attend (one income household, remember?). And I have to admit, it was a very scary decision for me to start her in therapy with a psychiatrist.  But my daughter needed help and ,quite frankly, I did, too.

But, looking back on it, that was the turning point in this journey. I strongly believe that it saved my daughter and my family.

There she began treatment for ADHD and severely high anxiety, along with her Tourettes. She was, also, tested for Aspergers Syndrome. In the initial testing, she fell six points below a diagnosis. However, her Doctor felt that her score, her symptoms, and her behavior all indicated that she had Aspergers. And due to the treatment being the same medication and therapy she was already participating in, we agreed to forego further expensive tests.

Therapy was very slow and trying at first. Lauren wouldn't participate or just provided answers she knew were "correct". I soon realized that by watching from another room when he spoke to her, by watching and listening to his words and actions, I was finally learning how to interact with my own daughter.

He gained her trust soon and she began to really work. She wanted to know why her brain was so different from those around her. We quickly learned that her emotions weren't varied, only extreme. She was either really happy or really angry... no in between.

She had to learn appropriate responses to a given situation, whether it be school, at home, or with her peers. She had to learn how to filter her thoughts before speaking (and still working on that one!)

At the same time, I was learning how to interact with her and not trigger her. Sometimes, as a Mom you feel that you know how to talk or react to your child just because it's your child. I quickly found out that I did not know!

That's a hard pill to swallow. I felt like a failure. I didn't know how to communicate with my own daughter. And sometimes, many times, I was making things worse. But I learned as she learned.

We, also, began new medications. After several months her tics would come and go, the storms were weaker, and we were communicating on the same level, really communicating!

I learned not to give her multiple tasks at once. Her brain concentrates on one thing at a time.

She learned to make lists and mark them off one by one.

I learned when she was starting to feel overwhelmed to give her space.

She learned how to calm herself down.

As time went by, we went through three different therapists due to schedule and staff changes. But that worked out for us, as well. She had to learn to adjust to changes, how to get to know and trust a new person in her life, and their different styles of therapy.

At the start of her therapy, I took her out of public school and homeschooled her for a year. Barry and I wanted her to have a less restrictive environment so she could focus on herself and her therapy. Plus, at the start we were going to therapy sessions twice a week and afterwards, she was drained emotionally, as was I.

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For the sixth grade, she had changed schools and was ready to go back. There were still quite a few challenges and therapy had slowed down to once a month. By the seventh grade, she encountered a road block. And I once again pulled her from public school, although this time it wasn't entirely due to her diagnosis.

This particular school's definition of "special needs" vs "behavior problem" was very murky. And Lauren was drowning in that murkiness. I pulled her out after multiple failed attempts to reason,  conferences, even making her Psychiatrist available for recommendations and accommodations that would improve or alleviate the challenges at hand.

For a more in depth look at how Lauren's brain works and how simple perceptions can be such a challenge, please read my post about

Perceptions, The Daily Struggles of dealing with Tourette's, Asperger's, and ADHD.

We began homeschool, once again. Now, I am very lucky in two different areas here!

First, our state of Mississippi does not have very restrictive laws regarding homeschool curriculum, or programs. This is great for us not being able to afford pricey curriculums or groups.

For more info on the homeschool laws in your own state, check out the HSLDA Website. It is a wonderful site full of great info all about homeschooling.

Second, Lauren loves education, reading, exploring ideas, and everything to learn more about the world around us! She has a very high intelligence, and was reading on a college level in the fifth grade! 

These two points combined, made homeschooling quite easy for me. I will be sharing a post in the near future about our adventures in homeschool, including an awesome list of activities perfect for the family homeschooler!

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While we were homeschooling, we were still attending therapy once a month, then once every two months. That is, in addition to, seeing the Nurse Practitioner of Psychiatry every three months for check ups and medicine regulation.

Lauren worked at every single session, training her brain to work with others not against them. She "retaught" herself that there is a wide array of emotions and which are appropriate for a specific situation. She learned ways to cope with her anxiety and what triggers it. She gained social skills and began utilizing them when she returned to public school for the ninth grade... high school.

With the therapies and the new skills she had learned, she was ready to reenter the public school system.

That was a year ago. Now, I'm not saying all is perfect or that the storms just disappeared. But with maturity, understanding of herself and her conditions, and a lot of hard effort on her part, Lauren's "Storms" are much less frequent and way less severe.

I can not reiterate how proud of my girl I am. She has a 104 average for her first year in high school, a crew of very special tight knit friends (whom I love!), and hopes for a brighter future!

She plans on becoming a Marine Biologist, and I have no doubt that it will happen. Will there be more challenges and hurdles for her? Of course there will be... Her journey is not over. 

Will she succeed? Absolutely.  After all, she has already weathered many dark "Storms" in her life and made it to see the warm sunshine after.

Don't forget to Pin on Pinterest or share to Facebook!

To learn more about Lauren's "Super Powers" of reading and her love of words, check out my post

The Laurenism

To see where Lauren's journey leads you can follow me and the #laurenism on Instagram and Twitter!

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  1. Thank you for this inspiring read to never give up

    1. Thank you so much, Mrs. Chetty, I am very glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Thank you for sharing your difficult journey. I'm a big fan of Nurse Practitioners

    1. My pleasure to share it! I adore Nurse Practitioners, and Lauren's is so helpful, thorough, and attentive. She really takes time to see how her patients are really doing.

  3. Thank you for sharing her journey! She sounds like an extraordinary young lady!

    1. That she is, Caitlin! Thanks for stopping in, I appreciate it!

  4. Inspiring Read. Thanks for sharing this and motivating others to not give up despite of challenges and hurdles in life.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words! I'm so glad you liked it and appreciate your stopping in!

  5. Hearing stories from other parents who have children with special needs helps me remain optimistic through my own journey with a now 15 year old with ADHD/Mood disorder. Special Ed, psych, counseling, meds, meltdowns, discord, and teen angst is a lot to deal with. Thank you for the boost I needed today to keep going.

    1. It really is a lot to deal with! I'm glad I could give you that boost. Moms supporting Moms and bringing families closer are my goals. I've been where you are now with my oldest, he's now 20. Now, I have to figure out what happens as he is becoming an adult. It's scary, but we can do it moment by moment. I'm always here if you need to talk!



Hi, there! My name is Shannon Dewease and I'm so happy you found my blog. I am from beautiful South Mississippi and live here with my family. My life can get a little chaotic, comical, and down right complicated, as you will find out. I can't wait to begin sharing my misadventures with you!

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