Tuesday, June 8, 2010
When Love Is Not Enough
Before adopting Baby Boy, we knew he had some developmental delays. But his social worker assured us the delays were nothing that a loving home would not “cure” in a few short months. Well, I am here to say, that a year later, love alone has not “cured” my traumatized child. I totally was uninformed on the issues that a traumatized child can face (not that it would have made any difference whatsoever in our decision), but I am sad that the professionals who should be better informed seemed more clueless than I was. More than a year later, we have loved Baby Boy to pieces, advocated for his needs and made sure he gets early intervention services, speech therapy, sees a developmental pediatrician and we are now adding occupational therapy. Even with all these interventions, the progress is slower than slow. At 28 months, Baby Boy still does not speak volitionally, nor can he use his sign language volitionally – he will repeat words in context and use a sign after you say the word, but he can’t initiate the word or sign enough to communicate. His vocabulary is less than 10 words – less than his one year old sister’s vocabulary. This sometimes leaves a frustrated child – he knows what he wants, but simply can’t communicate his needs because mommy sometimes does not understand the grunts or pointing or babbling. And this leaves a grieving mommy when she looks at a happy, smiling boy who is clueless at the mountains he will have to overcome. I thought I had some parenting issues down pat, like how to potty train in four days. But we got thrown for a loop – how do you potty train a child who will not communicate volitionally that he needs to go? If you ask him if he needs to use the potty, he just smiles and says potty. Baby boy does not understand most two step commands and we are left wondering how to parent twins who are reaching their developmental milestones miles apart? And how do you show empathy for the one, without neglecting the needs of the other? When we were getting an evaluation for occupational therapy, I wanted to bury my head and pretend that the questions that the therapist was asking were not pointing to autism. Of course, she soon removed the wool from my eyes by using the A word! Baby Boy does not have an official diagnosis of autism, and I am stopping myself from doing any research – because I want a few carefree days of blessed ignorance before his next appointment with the developmental pediatrician in a couple of weeks. So we soldier on, trying to prove his social worker right that all he needs is love and he will catch up to his peers.