parenting

“He’s not broken, he’s just different…”


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As a parent, you wish for only the best for your child. You wish for them to be happy, to be healthy, to be fulfilled with development, to feel loved & feel safe..

As a parent, hearing that something could be wrong with your child is devastating. It’s heartbreaking beyond explanation.

We received a few reports from the school about Monster’s behavior and social development, & received a suggestion to take him to an occupational therapist to have these problems looked at.

*****

We saw the therapist last night. I tried not to make assumptions in my mind on our way to the appointment. Could there be something seriously wrong with our son? That he wasn’t just a late bloomer as we had thought. Could he have a disability of some sort?

The therapist asked us a lot of questions. I don’t even remember some of them. What time of birth did I have with him. When he started sitting, crawling, walking. What type of food does he eat. How his sleeping patterns work. Potty training. How much milk he still drinks. If he follows instructions. If he points at things of interest. If he responds to his name. If he get along with the kids in his class.
These are just some of the ones I can remember, but there were so much more.

All the time Byren and I would answer a question, she would write something down and I couldn’t help thinking; was that a bad thing or good thing?

One of the points brought to our attention by the school was that Monster didn’t want to talk at school. He was quiet all day. From the moment he arrived to the moment we picked him up. It didn’t make sense because he would talk and babble on our way to school and would talk again in the car on our way home. Why wouldn’t he speak at school? It’s not like he can’t say any words at all… While we were at the therapist, he started reciting the bit of the alphabet he knows as well as counted numbers without being asked to. He spoke before a complete stranger. She also assured us that it’s because she knows how to handle kids and make them feel comfortable.

Another point was that he didn’t like interacting with other children in his class. He always played on his own. The therapist said that that could be relationship development problems as well as emotional communication skills that he hasn’t developed.

She told us that his speech was behind for his age group. That his speech and language wasn’t up to standard. She said he will need speech therapy to help with his development. I felt my heart sink into my feet. It’s not news that is given to you every day for it not to come as a shocker.
I immediately jumped on the blame wagon and started asking myself, ‘Was it something I did? Something I didn’t do enough?’

I could stop the tears forming in my eyes. How do you process news like this without getting emotionally involved? The therapist assured us that it was of course never easy for parents to hear such news about their child/ren. She told us to not blame ourselves. It’s nothing we did or didn’t do.
A child is like a package you receive. There are no instructions or work manuals, and every package is different to another. Her next words brought some assurance over me,” Remember, he isn’t broken. He doesn’t need fixing. He is just different and understands things differently. We aren’t going to treat him differently now. We are just going to use a different approach to him, one he will understand.”

I cried. I looked at my baby and I cried. No matter if someone’s says it’s not your fault; as a parent, you feel guilty. And you feel so helpless. She told us that we were doing our son a favor by picking up on these things early and taking steps to help him to be the best he can be.

During this time, Monster had slipped outside and was playing in the garden. The therapist has a pool in the front yard and the cover was over the pool. As Monster was running around, I don’t know if he thought the covering was part of the pool but he ran over it. All I heard was a splash and I knew he had fallen into the water.

I don’t know how I got to the pool. I can’t remember what happened. I remember hearing the splash and then I remember being at the pool side, with Byren and the therapist arriving at my side, and Byren and I lifting Monster out of the water.Monster clung onto Byren but he didn’t cry. He was just silent and breathing hard. I tried to control my own breathing as I started hyperventilating. After the therapist saw that Monster was fine, she turned her attention to me to calm me down and told me to think of Ehren.
I can’t explain the fear I saw inMonster’s eyes as his hand was still above water and his whole head was underwater. His eyes were crying out “help me.” It was like he realized he was in danger and he needed help. I will never forget his eyes, the way he looked me through the water and reached out to me.
The therapist said that what saved him is that he held his breath when he fell in. He didn’t swallow any water which gave us enough time to get him out of the water. I thank God, really, for saving my little boy in that moment. I can’t bare to think of the consequences…

As soon as we had Monster changed into dry clothes and closed all the doors to the outside, we sat down again to continue with the session. I could feel the guilt creep over me even more. I could’ve let my son die because I wasn’t watching him more carefully. How could I call myself a parent if I was irresponsible towards my sons safety?

Towards the end of the session, the therapist explained that she needed us to go see a pediatrician to confirm with another set of tests if Monster was just a late bloomer or if there was something more going on. She said she didn’t want to say anything until she had the results from the doctor. I thought to myself, ‘What aren’t you telling us this of which you already know?’
I understand they don’t want to freak the parents out until they have certain answers. But what was she suspecting?

On our way home, I kept running scenarios in my head. What could be the worst the pediatrician could tell us.

Autism? Aspergers? Learning disability?

I know I shouldn’t have started calculating these things in my head but how can you stop yourself? As a parent, how do you shut yourself off from worrying about something that you’re not completely certain of? How can you not feel anything?

This is one of the most difficult posts I have ever made. As I was typing, I kept reliving each moment in my mind, each looking like I was still in the moment. I’m at work and I can’t stop crying, about the pool incident, about the therapy my son has to get, about what the pediatrician could tell us.

With all this in my head, all the rest of my problems in this world seem so so small. Like they don’t matter, they don’t fit in the bigger picture.

One of things I need to look out for is not to treat him differently now that we are aware that there is something that is keeping him from keeping up with the development pace.

He’s not broken…. He’s just different… And he deserves the same love and care as any other child..
Unconditional love.

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