Friday, August 24, 2007

A child WHAT?!

This morning I took Captain Adventure to a speech therapist for a preliminary evaluation around his speech issues. While he’s making some progress on the talking front, he’s still nowhere near where he ought to be for a three year old, not only in pronouncing words but in such basic things as initiating conversation. Which he doesn’t, pretty much ever. I think he would actually drop dead of thirst before he would walk over to me and say, “Juice!”

Funny, huh – the other three, I’m wishing they’d stop initiating conversations (or at least quit bursting into the room and firing off demands like a machine gun), while I can’t get my boy to give me the time of day. Or even say “clock”.

He had a very good session. He showed off what words he does have, and played the ‘point at the {nose, mouth, shoe, cup}’ game cheerfully enough and showed that he does play with toys and play-act and all that.

So she’s checking things off her list and scribbling things down and playing with him (we both like her – she’s good people) and occasionally asking me questions.

After an hour of this, she gives me the upshot of where she thinks we’re going.

He has high cognitive and social skills. He has excellent motor skills. He’s a bright-eyed little guy, friendly and outgoing, good eye-contact and body language. She has no worries about autism or Asperger's Syndrome or any of the other boogie men that hide under my bed at night poking at my psyche so I can’t sleep.

She is going to be working with him regularly right out the gate. We already have our next session scheduled for next week. And also she would like to get the ball rolling to have him admitted to the special needs preschool run by the district. Here’s the paperwork, and here’s how we get started…

Such a wave of confliction ran through me at that moment, it defies description.

Why did I all but twist my pediatrician’s arm to get a referral to the speech therapist? Because I know my boy has issues I can’t address by myself. He has special needs, and he needs help I can’t give him. If he keeps on as he is now, he won’t be starting kindergarten in two years. He will be lagging behind, always. He needs trained professionals to show interest in him and teach him how to express what is going on inside his mind.

So you’d think I’d be nothing but delighted that we are talking about getting him into the special needs preschool program, huh? The highly rated program, the one that has worked miracles for children in our community, the one praised by our pediatricians, the exactly right thing for a boy like Captain Adventure, who is wicked smart but unable to show it?

But at the same time, I’m afraid. I’m afraid he will go to this program and they will pull me aside and say, “OH, we’re so sorry, it isn’t just a speech delay – he has {insert Syndrome du Jour here} and he will never, ever be anything like ‘normal’.”

I’m afraid it will come back to something I did. Yeah yeah, I know, I know. I’m a good mom blah blah blah – but I go back and pick over his three years of life, and even his pregnancy, and point out all the things I did wrong or could have done better and IF I HAD would he be talking up a storm right now, using the potty while reading up on his Shakespeare?

So you can imagine how I felt when she then said, cheerfully, “OK, so here’s what we’re going to do, I’m going to have the child psychologist and the preschool coordinator arrange for a home visit…”


Excuse me, the child psychologist?! Coming to my house?!?! Uuuuuuuh…

And here, Tama exposes that she has many irrational prejudices and is also deeply ignorant.

I dislike psychologists. Isn’t that awful of me? But I hate the way they always seem to find things that are wrong with everybody. You say something like, “Oh, I’m not that fond of cabbage” and they will start telling you about how your issues stem from your relationship with your father and that the ‘cabbage’ represents his testicles or something equally disgusting.

Now I know that the psychologist is coming to observe Captain Adventure in his native environment to confirm that he has speech issues, that he relates well to others, that the home isn’t a scary place and all that. I know that the psychologist is not coming here to pick apart my housekeeping or to determine whether or not I should be allowed to keep him.

But still.

A child psychologist is coming to my house to observe my child so that he can be placed (or not) in a special needs program…which obviously I drove him into because I am terrible mother with deep-rooted issues around cabbage.


See, this is where I have to put on my big girl panties and carry on. This isn’t about me or what people think of me or whether or not I’m endangering my Mother of the Year award (snort!).

It’s about my son, who is not where he should be. He needs help that I can’t give him, not by myself. I’ve tried. We’ve made progress. But it isn’t enough, and it has stalled. He needs more, and so do I. I need these people to help me help him – I need them to take me by the hand and show me what I can do for him.

He’s a bright little boy with a long life ahead of him. He’s got so many things to see and do and be, so many thoughts he will think, so many deeds he will do. I want him to jump in with both feet and start running – not be lagging at the back of the pack feeling confused and left behind because his momma was too proud to admit she wasn’t able to handle it herself when he hit a snag.

Or because she was afraid the psychologist was going to rub her hands together, cackling eagerly, saying to herself, “Wow, this mom is a piece of work! I’m finally going to make my mark in the psychological thesis community!!”

…maybe I should go buy some cabbage, just for show (because I’m surely not going to eat the stuff!)…


Tola said...

my nephew had only one word he used until he was about 3 1/2. it was a weird word (stitch) and he used it for everything. but he just turned five and he is absolutely on schedule and will start kindergarten next week. i think he just internally practiced a little longer than other children. i am *sure* your little one is just fine.

Amy Lane said...

I've been there. I'm still there--my oldest son is in high school and he's still in the special education department. I remember when he was going through barrage after barrage of testing--when he was 2 1/2, actually, because he had NO language--he had a sound. (Yi yi yi yi...) Anyway, Mate would take him testing and we would look at the results and they would recommend another test... one day, Mate just broke down. "Everyone keeps trying to see what's wrong with him. Can't they see he's perfect?"

He's perfect, Tama. He's perfect. Don't you ever doubt it. There is no test in the world, no psychologist on the planet (yes--I had one of those too--he was very nice. Any man who tells me my child doesn't have autism is on my Christmas card list) no test in the world, no standard in the universe that will make your son less than perfect for the job of being your son.

It's hard--people kept telling me "He's fine." Well, he wasn't 'fine'--he did need help. But he's still perfect. And even now, when I want to wring his neck for not doing the dishes and for interrupting every spare thought I actually have, he's still perfect.

MadMad said...

I'm never going to look at cabbage the same way... but at least I'll laugh.

Hope it goes OK - I'd feel exactly the same way. But like you said, you'll just vacuum, put on your big girl panties and hope it just gets over quick. It will be worth it to have him get those couple of years in before kindergarten. Keep your eyes on the prize. (And maybe it'll make for a good post later. That's it! Start taking notes on the Dr. taking notes on you! That could be interesting...)

Anonymous said...

Oh girl. It WILL be okay. Clearly any child who has demonstrated such a strong early attachment to wool must be special, in the most positive sense of the word. :-) Both my boys are dyslexic - youngest severely so - and they both also have anxiety/OCD issues, and I get so tired of hearing about their "problems". Yes, they struggle with academic issues and germ phobias and really, really missing their grandpa who died a few years ago. They are also smart, funny, engaging kids, who I firmly believe are going to be amazing adults someday. And you know what? So will Captain Adventure. We moms see through love, and it doesn't blind us at all - it lets us see potential. Hang in there.

21stCenturyMom said...

Oh my - deep breath. It will be fine. It will be better than fine. They will see what a fine house you have and what a fine parent you are and they will put him in a program and jump start his speech issues.

I have a story, too. The end of the story is "boy graduates from high school after spending 4 years doing drama and goes on to UC Santa Cruz." But it isn't an end - it is a beginnig of a happy adult life for a boy who said not one word until he was about 5.

Kris said...

Hang in there. I wish I had a comforting word for you.


Science PhD Mom said...

Steph got it absolutely right--seeing Captain Adventure through love means you see his potential. You are ALWAYS his best advocate--chin up! And clearly being a yarnhog means he is destined for great things! *LOL*

Anonymous said...

Right there with you about home visits and lack of progress and developmental delay and near-failure to thrive for a boy who I *know* is alert and smart as a whip. So what if he only says MMMMMM!! Today he started cruising at 15 months and I am thrilled.

17th stitch said...

Been there, lived through it. I'm sending as many positive thoughts your way as I can. My son made huge strides with the help of a sweet, gentle speech therapist and - as so many other people have said - just remember that you adore him and he's wonderful. (And hey -I had to greet the psychologist team covered in baby vomit because my younger son was sick the day they came... oh, the memories...)

RM Kahn said...

What they said... everyone who responded has said it all. I/we (the Council) are only a phone call away.

Anonymous said...

I hate to be blunt, but I suspect if you'd actually had firsthand experience of working with a good therapist, you wouldn't be so worried about what they're going to think of you.

They're not judgmental; it's their job to help. Just help. It makes perfect sense to me that part of the young Captain's help team would be a psychologist, because language is tied to thought, and psychologists work with how people think and interact in their worlds.

Doesn't mean you screwed him up. And his siblings' speech habits are proof, if you're looking for it. Part of being a good mom is seeing to it that your kids get help when they need it. Specific kinds of help, and there's not a thing wrong with that. Everybody needs help of some kind at some point. Sounds like you're just getting him what he needs.

Hope I'm not being too pedantic here, but I just don't like to see you tie yourself in knots over this.

Yarnhog said...

I had a bunch of great stuff to say, but they've already said it for me. You're right that it's not about you or what you did or didn't do (because that has nothing to do with it). It's just about what your son happens to need as an individual, and you are a great mom for putting aside your own anxiety so that he can get it.

Anonymous said...

How soon after that meeting did you start cleaning?

(It will be ok. I used to do some of those visits - they really are focussed on the kid...not you.)

Jen said...

Listen to your commenters, Tama. Especially Amy Lane. The little Captain is as perfect as it gets, and you're doing a great job being his mom. The anxiety will get better as you get used to these people... the psychologist, etc. But never lose sight of, he's perfect.

Helen said...

I used to think psychologists were like that.
Til I took my kid to one. Mostly, she's confirmed that any number of things are NOT wrong, and has worked w/ her to resolve the social interaction issues that were keeping her from making friends.
She's helped me understand what's going on, and that's helped a lot too.
She's also helped me by confirming (repeatedly), that I am a good mom, w/ good insights, and that I did NOT create this problem.

Unknown said...


Once upon a time I *was* Captain Adventure.

It will get better. Trust me.

Catherine Banks said...


My beautiful, perfect, wicked smart son has Dyslexia and ADHD (the inattentive variety).

Jump with both feet into ALL of the therapy and help you can get your hands on.

When kids are as young as Captain Adventure the therapy makes a HUGE difference in the trajectory of their lives.

Son will start first grade on Tuesday with a third grade reading level because he's been working his little fanny off in al of his therapies.

Sneaksleep said...

What everyone else said. Oh, and a story. About 30 years ago, when my mom was living in Spain, she met a little 6-year-old girl named Socorrito who was the daughter of one of the neighbors. The two of them had a lovely conversation in Spanish, even though my mom's Spanish left a lot to be desired. The next day she was visiting the neighbors, and kept hearing words like "miracle" and "amazing" in the conversation. When she asked what miracle had happened, they explained that little Socorrito, who up until then had been believed to be mute, was suddenly talking up a storm and no one could shut her up. My mom likes to believe that talking with someone whose Spanish abilities were even worse than hers gave Socorrito the confidence to start talking.

Anonymous said...

Great job with your son. Sometimes it is very scary to seek help. You worry about labels and other things that might hurt rather than help.

My son is dyslexic and learning to read very s-l-o-w-l-y.

I think by starting early, he has an excellent chance of catching up and running past the other kids.

Be brave. Hugs to you!