Once again I have remembered why I have been actively avoiding the speech-delay boards on my favorite parenting website, babycenter.com. Parents are IDIOTS.
It started a good 6 months ago when I responded to a parent who knew her 3-year-old had a delay – her doctor told her when he was 18 months to have him tested – but she hadn’t gotten around to having any testing done because she and her husband work long hours. Plus, she figured the Spanish-speaking nanny wasn’t helping his cause. I wasn’t very nice. I told her she was irresponsible and that the amount of progress her child had lost could be insurmountable. And that the time she needs to take now is significantly more than she would have before, with the extra testing that needed to be done. She wrote back that it had nothing to do with taking time off of work, that wasn’t an issue, she just thought it’d get better on it’s own.
Checking my inbox today I scanned the list of posts to boards I am signed up for and saw a headline about a 4-year-old with speech delays so I clicked on it – I figured we’re in similar situations. HAH! She’s been working with her child on her own – never tested hearing or had an evaluation done or anything. And is actively planning on waiting longer since her child has a late birthday and two more years till kindergarten. I have not and will not respond to this, my blood is totally boiling.
I stopped going to my March 2007 board for a while when speech delays were the rage. If one more person said, oh, just wait, your little one will catch up, outgrow, etc, etc I would have gone mental. Because with Charlotte all I kept hearing was Einstein didn’t talk until he was 3. Not every child is Einstein, so what happens in 6 months when they don’t catch up. You’ve lost 6 months which in baby-time is huge.
If you’re not aware I fought like crazy to get Charlotte help with her speech, being turned down twice for early intervention, approved the third time because her other skills were falling behind because of her lack of speech. Last July, Charlotte was turning 3, she only spoke 20 words. Fearful she wouldn’t get into the special education preschool we had an outside advocate lined up. In the end we went on our own and it went well. We asked for summer session, got summer session, once in school she had OT and PT evaluations, qualified for OT and has made tremendous progress there. We are actively in touch with teachers and therapists. After a year in school she no longer qualified for the special classroom setting, she is working on 3 syllable words and talking in complete sentences. With the recommendation from a developmental pediatrician in hand, plus our own story, we explained why Charlotte needed to stay in the special ed classroom – and we were approved.
Add our past experiences to my own experience yesterday at another CPSE meeting for Charlotte it’s simple to see why I get so frustrated. Yesterday’s meeting was a basic one, just switching a pull-in occupational therapy session to a pull-out, based on superb progress over the summer doing two one-on-one sessions a week. The meeting took all of 5 minutes, mostly to sign the attendance sheet. Even her classroom teacher, who met me for the first time yesterday, was surprised how fast it went. As we were walking out she relayed that Charlotte’s OT had told her not to worry about not knowing Charlotte well, that I was a great advocate and knew what to do.
One of the best parts for me was at the end when the special ed teacher in attendance, who had not met us yet, said good bye to Catie thinking she was Charlotte. I figure it’s because of Catie saying “please may I have a cookie” and refusing to leave because she had to finish said cookie. Well the program director and two other regular board members were quick to say, that’s Catie, the younger sister, she’s 2. That’s how well they know us. I have never missed a meeting, which are not mandatory for us to attend. Even my husband’s attendance to the annual ones brings attention to us since it’s rare for both parents to take the time.
I don’t know, maybe if the entire process had been easier we wouldn’t fight so hard. I am aware I have an advantage being a stay-at-home mom. But good enough doesn’t really work for me when it comes to my kids. I still think I can do better, so when I read these messages from parents who are flippant with the welfare of their children I just want to shake them silly.
So why do I stay signed up? Because I know for a fact that sharing my experiences has helped other people. The grandma who was fighting with her daughter to get help told a story that mimicked Charlotte’s. I was able to tell her I was on my third pediatrician because no one knew anything and had been to a developmental pediatrician for specialized support. I was able to direct her to my favorite book on apraxia. The number of people who ask how you knew if your child was delayed that I shared the link to the ASHA website is even enough. My advice was applauded by a speech therapist who frequents the board to offer help, that was an amazing feeling. But aside from patting myself on the back, for me, the support I get from some of the boards is amazing. So usually after yelling at my computer I move on to someone and something else – even if it’s just tonight’s dinner.