I think one of the hardest times was when we were in denial about what was happening with Johnny. He was our first child so we were on one big learning curve in terms of what is suppose to be typical development. We heard so many things that we were not sure what to think from well meaning friends and family. He is a big boy so its no wonder he has trouble pulling himself up to stand. He is a big boy so he is afraid to let go and try to walk without assistance. Boys are naturally slower in development then girls so don’t panic. Look at how he smiles and interacts with everyone! He looks like he has so much to say but just can’t get the words out. Even though we tried to listen and put a smile on our face we knew deep down that Johnny was falling behind. Then the acquisition of spoken words literally stopped and challenging behaviours took its place. Johnny stopped smiling and even though we could tell he was listening to us because he would follow our directions or react negatively to what we said, he did not want to play with us like he did before. We never said the word AUTISM to family members but we knew when Johnny was two that this was a possibility.
What is also hard is watching another parent with their child and knowing that you are seeing a developmental delay or a sensory challenge but the parents don’t see it. They are in either in denial or they just don’t know. What do you do? What do you say? I have become friends with another mom who has a son the same age as my daughter. I could see he has sensory challenges and that she was trying very hard to help him socialize and have play skills. I decided the best thing I could do is to be honest about why I looked tired that day and it wasn’t because of my daughter but my Autistic son. I would share some stories and what interventions were working and be open to any questions she might have. I never discussed her son or what my concerns were. It turned out that her mother-n-law was a retired special education teacher who also had some concerns and was suggesting some great interventions for the little boy and now she had even more to talk to me about and ask for what I thought.
Early intervention is everything when it comes to a child with a developmental delay so why are we afraid of pursuing intervention? Are we afraid of labelling our children? Are we afraid of what that means or how that will look? It IS hard to stop and realize that your child is going down a different road then you thought your are on. Are we afraid of the special needs label? The other way to look at is children are growing and changing so rapidly before the age of 7 that you can take advantage of the natural neuro-placidity that is present. Children are amazingly adaptive and resilient so we want to lay the foundations of being a good learner when they are young before it gets harder and harder to do this.
So now I am faced with knowing another family that are seeing some developmental delays in their son. They feel that if they just work really hard right now that once he reaches his 18 month check up he will have caught up a lot. I think that is very nobel and ambitious but at the same time we are not alone when we are raising our children. It takes a community at times and its okay to seek out what resources are available to help your child meet the goals. They were not sure of who to call and what was available when the time comes so my support was to offer up contact information of agencies and to encourage them to get their child’s name on any list they think might be needed with the caveat being they can always refuse the spot if they don’t need it.
In the end I know how it feels to be in denial and as each day passes hoping and praying that today is the day Johnny will start talking or play with toys like other children. But I also know how far our son has because of his own determination and early intervention by kind hearted early childhood professionals. When we finally come to terms and see through the lens of acceptance, we then are finally putting the child first and not our worries.