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Almost six years ago, I sent you an email in the middle of the night. You sent me an email back at two in the morning. I felt scared and alone, I had just been told earlier that day that my three-year-old son, Thomas, was severely speech-delayed, had fine and gross motor skill delays, and cognitive delays. I tried to explain to the professionals who did the assessments that Thomas could speak and was really quite bright, but he was very shy. They gave me looks of pity, along with a lecture on "denial" and the importance of Early Intervention. When I left the meeting, I started to cry. My son pulled on my arm until I bent down, then he wiped my tears, hugged me and said, "What's wrong, Mama?" Yet the professionals said my son's assessments showed: "Nonverbal, can't read social cues, and not properly attached to Mom." Ha!
Kathie, you were right. My son has proven the experts to be wrong. I was so tired of being told my son had limited imaginary play, that I started videotaping him and showing it to the experts. Then I got smart and decided to leave the experts out of our lives.
Thomas just turned nine. Six friends attended his birthday party; we pared down the list from ten kids because we have a small house. We celebrated his birthday with a lizard cake, a movie, popcorn, and seven kids running through the house playing an elaborate game involving knights, wizards, and a princess.
My "severely speech-delayed" child is quite articulate. He brings up obscure facts about lizards or sharks if the conversation drags. My child with the "gross motor delays" and "weak core strength" has earned a green belt in martial arts, rides a scooter, plays soccer and baseball, and was on a curling team. When Thomas was four, the OT said my son had the grasp of 18-month-old. Luckily, he didn't get the memo because he's an expert video game player, loves Legos, writes well, and ties his shoes.
My son—who supposedly lacked empathy—was named "most caring" by his teachers in his general ed pre-K class. He picks up worms on the sidewalk and moves them to grass. When Thomas was eight, he got into a shoving match with two 12-year-old boys who were teasing his friend. He uses his allowance to buy treats for our dogs. He is always the first to comfort a child who is crying. For a child who was supposed to be "cognitively delayed," he has managed to be above grade level in all subjects except reading (and he's only a few months behind in that).
I'm glad we listened to our son, instead of the experts.