In my life, I have found a few certainties, some of which are:
- if one kid sleeps through the night, the other won't
- when you drop a piece of toast on the floor, it will always fall peanut butter side down
- just when you start thinking life is as it should be, a curve ball (or two or three) get thrown at you
Don't get me wrong, my life is pretty damn good, I can't complain. But, I will - just a little.
I can now make light of this (a little bit), because I'm a couple months removed from the initial kick in the crotch.
Let me take you back to last July. (For the record, this may get a little long). I mentioned to the nurse at our health center that I had concerns about our son not talking. He was 28 months at the time. I was of the opinion that he would just wake up one day and decide to talk (as every story I ever heard from anyone I've talked to about this has gone - to that I say ppptttthhhhhhh). Fast forward to March when we finally get an appointment with a speech therapist.
This gal was fairly young, and new to her job - but I wasn't holding that against her. Yet. Our appointment was 1/2 hour long, and 25 minutes of the appointment consisted of her observing him and asking me questions. She spent a few minutes on seeing what he could say, if he could identify pictures, etc. After our "appointment", she tells me that she is concerned that he is on the autism spectrum. And, several times she told me "I know this is very hard to hear right now". Really? Maybe you should reserve judgement until someone qualified looks at him. (sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself...)
Before I freak out on her (which, let's face it, any parent in denial would do) I readily agree to a referral to a pediatrician and occupational therapist. Now, where we live, appointments don't come quickly (see: July to March above). So. I go home, and inform my husband of what just went down. We both proceed to take turns in causing more panic in the other, all the while focusing on nothing else but what weird behaviour our son is exhibiting at any given moment. (When did he start doing that? Is that normal? What the hell does that mean?)
I think it was a full day and a half before I stopped crying, that time full of thoughts about what his future would be like, and how I was going to beat the crap out of any kid that dared to bully my sweet, sweet boy, because clearly, the therapist had just given him a death sentence.
Enough of that crap. Luckily, the kids and I were flying "home" for a visit, where there is a wider variety of care for cases like his. I get that he has a severe speech delay, and I wanted another opinion on that, seeing as how the last gal told me to "just keep doing what you're doing with him". Clearly that was working, lady.
I managed to contact a lady who not only is an occupational therapist, but also owns another company with a speech language pathologist. (Not sure what I did to deserve that shiny gem, but it lifted about 1000 lbs. off of me). She heard my story and told me that they would work around us and see us whenever we could get there. I love this woman. Love.
I took him for an assessment with each of them, and after all was said and done, he does have a severe speech issue, as well as some immaturity/behavioural issues, which could be attributed to the lack of speech. Oh, and no autism. Surprise surprise. Not a word you want to be throwing around to parents when clearly it's not autism at all. But, I digress.
We are getting together a clear plan of what we need to be doing for him, and I feel a lot better about the whole thing. Yes, it would be easier if he just talked and acted like other kids, but on the other hand, he is healthy, alive and happy (and oh so silly!!).
I always try to see the lessons in things, and the big one here is how much compassion I've gained for parents who have autistic children (or any special needs children for that matter). These kids are so awesome, but I caught a glimpse into the unbearable heartache these parents feel. To envision your child's future as grim, as I have for a brief moment, is the biggest hurt I've ever felt. I pray to never feel it again, yet I know that there are so many parents who live it every day.
To put the cherry on the top, we found out we are moving by June 10th (thankfully to a larger center where speech therapy is readily available). I hate moving. But, that's for another post.
For now, we are teaching and praising new words, enjoying every little milestone and just hoping for the best.