Friday, June 26, 2009

The Boy's Early Childhood

This is the second part of my story of The Boy. I don't plan to go into minute by minute detail, but will cover enough that the understanding is there. Again, this post will probably be fairly long, but I know of no other way to shorten and sweeten it.

I knew when I held my son at just a few hours after he was born that there was something different about him. I don't know exactly what clued me in, but I just had this feeling that something was not quite right. Maybe that doesn't sound very nice or even 'mom' like, but it was how I felt.

Now you want to know why I thought this, right? Well, first off, you know how babies like to snuggle in your arms and would rather sleep there than anywhere? Not my baby. He preferred to lay in his bassinet with nobody touching him. He never cried. Occasionally he would cry when he got hungry, but normally, he just started to fuss a tiny bit, never a full out cry.

I know, I know. I sound like a terrible mom thinking something is wrong with her baby just because he was "an easy baby". There are millions of moms out there that are saying how they wish their baby was like that. But there was just something 'not right'. I don't know how to explain it any other way.

So, he continues to grow and become a funny little kid that I loved more than I could explain. He refused to drink any type of juice. He really didn't like any type of fruit except bananas and pears. He rolls, sits, crawls and walks on time.

His first Christmas, he received a Curious George stuffed animal and at 8 months old, picked him up and became extremely attached. Fine. 8 months old and attached to a monkey. No problem. That is normal. George went with us everywhere. My baby's first word was not 'dada' or 'mama' or even 'no'. It was George! Funny but true.

Most parents I know love having the first birthday because they get to have all the cool cake-all-over-the-place pictures. I have none of those. Not because I didn't have a camera. Not because I didn't get him his own little cake. Nope, I have none of those cool pictures because he refused to touch the cake. He refused to eat it. He didn't want any part of it at all.

Everything was great. Until he was about 15 months old. He had several words at this point--'light', 'on', 'up', 'dada', 'George'-- but still no 'mom' or 'mama'. Then he started to lose his words. I mentioned it to his sitter, and she said she would watch and listed to see if she noticed it. She said that he just seemed quieter. When we went to the doctor for shots/checkup I brought this up. I was told "you are just being overprotective. He is fine."

What could I do? I told them they were wrong, but nobody would listen to me. I continued to voice my concerns right up until the day we left Ft. Bragg in March of 1997. Nobody ever took me seriously. By this time, The Boy was not speaking at all. Nothing. No words whatsoever. No attempt to immitate anyone. Nothing.

We came home to our families at that time. One morning, The Boy was sick with a fever. I went to a rural health clinic because no one in this area took the military insurance that I had. The doc there decided that he had an ear infection. This was only the second one he had ever had. He wanted to see us back in a couple of weeks after the antibiotics were finished.

We went back to the doc two weeks later. We went into the exam room and the doc just sat down and watched my son open every drawer and door...and then turn around and close them all again in the order in which they were opened. Not one time did he look up at us and see what we were doing. The doc says "I think your boy is deaf."

I almost fell out of my chair! I mean...that could explain why he didn't respond when anyone called his name. Or why he didn't talk. Or why he didn't act as though he heard any loud noises. Tympanograms were done right then and there and they were both flat. The doc scheduled us with an ENT.

The ENT sent us to have a hearing test done. I felt it was not performed very well, but then what do I know...I'm only a mom! Evidently he passed, because a week after it was done, the ENT called me at home and stated, "your son is fine, there is no cause to be concerned about his hearing. He will start talking when you start to interact with him. You need to talk to him and play with him. You need to start being a mom."

I (being the sarcastic hick that I am) said to her, " mean that I am supposed to take him out of the closet instead of just opening the door three times a day when I give him his slice of bread and sippy cup of milk?" I then proceeded to call her a not so nice name and tell her that she had no right to call into question my parenting skills when she had no people skills. I went on to tell her that I hope she enjoyed seeing my child because that would be the last time she did so and that I would be sure to pass along my thoughts to friends and family about her doctoring abilities.

When I went back to the rural health clinic, I was put in touch with someone who he felt could help me. And help us they did. We were sent to the local school district who attempted to perform testing on The Boy. I say attempt because he was classified as being 'untestable.' Through observation he was noted to have the language skills of a child less than a year old. Because of his scores (or lack thereof) he was determined to be eligible to be enrolled in a program in which therapies are provided free of charge. We had a play therapist and a speech therapist in our home three times a week.

When he turned 3 he would be allowed to attend 'school' for three days week where he would continue to receive his therapies along with many other things. through the program Early Childhood Special Education. But, he could not go until he was out of diapers.

Let me just tell you....trying to get him to even attempt potty training was a crazy summer! It finally came down to me telling him that we were out of diapers and pull-ups, so he would have to put on the big boy underwear. He cried and screamed and refused to wear them. I told him that he didn't have to wear them, that he could go bear-butt , but that he couldn't potty in the floor. After many many hours, he decided that he would use the toilet and put on the underwear. He was trained from that moment on. And we started school within days of him turning 3! The Boy began attending the ECSE program and did so three days a week until he was ready to begin Kindergarten.

Another big deal with turning 3 was that the day after, he said 'mama' for the first time ever! Wow! We had another party!

When The Boy was four, I was pointed in the direction of a pediatric neurologist. I made the appointment and took him in. I took the films of a cat scan that he had had within the past year (those came from a fall while he was at school and the ER doc was scared that he had a head injury since he wasn't able to talk and was so rebellious). This doc looked at his scan and then watched The Boy. He told me, after watching him and talking to me and asking all kinds of questions that he felt strongly that he was on the autism spectrum. He told me that he refused to give that diagnosis to our insurance though because that could cause problems later. He said that if I needed the diagnosis for his school, to let him know and he would gladly give it to them. He said that I was doing all the right things with him at this point and that we would "just have to wait and see what happens. He may progress, he may regress or he may just stay where he is right now." Wow, that was hard to hear! But, at least we had a real diagnosis.

I took the diagnosis to his school and they were not surprised at all. They tweaked his therapies a little because of the diagnosis, but no major changes were done since they were working with him based on that assumption anyway. With that behind us, he made huge advances and started Kindergarten with no services needed! The Boy was talking and you could understand most of what was said. He was very intelligent according to his teachers and should do just wonderful in school.

Look out Kindergarten, here we come!

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