However I was immediately thankful that the anonymous person had written in because for twenty seven days I've been turning over various autism posts that I've meant to write in my head, but this has been a month of rushing and hustling from place to place and at night I'm often to tired to write at all.
It's still April though, and this is one topic I don't want to miss writing about this month.
When I first started out as a parent I was certain I could do it all on my own (with Paul's help of course). There wasn't anything that life could throw at me that I couldn't handle.
I'd read those posts that still flitter through my Facebook feed daily that told horrible, stomach twisting stories about social workers and doctors seizing children from families, for no reason whatsoever, or maybe just because they were homeschoolers and I would shudder at what they'd gone through.
I have to admit that those stories made me less likely to ask for any kind of help and more likely to try to hold it altogether on my own.
And for a while I did. Sure Maggie was a handful at two, but I was sure she'd grow out of it. I mean, she didn't have any words, but Sadie didn't have any words at two either and she was talking non-stop by the time she turned four (albeit with major problems with enunciation that likely came from eighteen months of monthly ear infections that we took her to the doctor for over and over again).
By the time she was almost three though, alarm bells were going off in my head. Something wasn't "right." And try as I might I didn't seem to be able to help her.
I began to realize that whatever we were facing, whatever I needed to do to help her was beyond my capabilities at that moment.
She was still two when I filled out a form online and sent it in to Early On. We received a letter a month later saying that she was too close to her third birthday and we'd been referred to our school district for evaluation. That was two years ago. I have never received any assistance or help from our school district, despite reaching out to them.
I fretted that she'd done so well when we were at those meetings and evaluations there was no way that we were going to get help of any kind. She'd been on her best behavior.
They came back and told me that she was definitely "autistic" and at that point "more severely than other children on the spectrum her age."
Our lives were about to change dramatically and the idea of that change was very scary to me. I'd been used to being on my own with the kids, walking to parks and museums every single day of the week to make Paul's long hours at law school pass more quickly.
Suddenly we had therapy sessions six days a week.
But as I watched Mae with her therapists I realized that they could help her in ways that I couldn't (even though I was going through an intensive training program at the local university at the same time). And as time went by I also realized that they cared about her and wanted what was best for her and were willing to advocate for her just as I was.
Yesterday's commenter said: "Somebody has swallowed a heckuva lot of Kool-Aid to presume that doctors, nurses, evals, and specially-trained special education specialists are the only people to be trusted with the welfare of our children."
And I guess in a literal sense I agree with him. They aren't the only people to be trusted. But sometimes they are a crucial part of the puzzle.
Sometimes caring for your child involves the a humbling moment of realization that you need outside help and then taking the steps to ask for that help and advocate for exactly what your child needs.
I'm a huge supporter of seeking help early now. Catching problems early and getting help can mean far less therapy further down the road. That's why I had Patch evaluated for a speech delay and why I brought up my concerns about James having a gross motor delay. I know that Patch's one speech session a month (which involves training for me) is likely to save us lengthier, more frequent, and more expensive speech therapy sessions down the road.
I hope that getting James physical therapy now will mean that he starts hitting his milestones on time and doesn't need other sorts of help later on.
That's what early intervention is. It's help when kids are small that hopefully will mean they need less help dealing with certain problems in the future.
I've read many, many books. Most nights I save articles about speech or occupation therapy or sensory activities I can do to help my kids. But I've realized that my training still, at this point, falls short (someday if I have the time I would love to get a speech or OT degree) and I'm still not able to help her as much as her team of therapists can on a daily basis.
Being a parent means wearing a lot of hats. Sometimes one of those hats is advocate.
I advocate to get my daughter the help that I can't give her.
And I hope, Anonymous person on the other side of the computer, that if you're ever in a position where your child or grandchild needs that kind of help, you'd be willing to do the same.
If you're a parent out there who has a concern about your child not saying enough words or meeting milestones ask your doctor if they're worried too. If you have a gut feeling that there's a problem don't be afraid to push for answers.
Hearing a diagnosis can be hard, but it can also be the gateway to getting the sort of help that your child needs.