See, I originally started writing this post in October of 2011 and I couldn't force myself to finish it. It was right before we moved and the subject matter was tearing my heart out. You know that something isn't right with your child. It doesn't matter how many times his original pediatrician told me to wait and eventually he'd crawl or walk, I knew something was wrong. I still know something is wrong.
My 23 month old son, my beautiful baby has/had a huge gross motor developmental delay. When he was tested at 14 months, he was testing in the 6 to 9 month skill range. He never crawled. He hopped around the house on one hand and one leg, like those kids you see on "Feed the Children" commercials who have no legs. He didn't walk until almost 19 months.
When he finally started, there was no stopping him. His favorite thing to do now is to yell "JUMPING! JUMPING!" and jump on my legs. Or down the hallway. Or on the couch. Or anywhere he can. You should see my legs. It looks like Dave and I are into some kinky shit. lol
He started running shortly after and his PT discharged him... But he was given an OT and a speech therapist. His fine motor skills are fragmented between 6 months and 3 years. (You should see this kid hold a crayon. Coloring with it is an entirely different story.) He also has two speeds- Excessively high and sleeping. There's no middle ground. He also is either seeking sensory input or avoiding it at all costs. Again, no middle ground. The kid will bang his head against our metal front door for 20 minutes, but Tebow help us if we try to get him to go down a slide. Sensory processing disorders, I think, is where we are at.
He stopped eating in December, lost over a pound, and is now being treated by the feeding team at Cincinnati Children's. They aren't really sure what to do with him either, because he knows how to eat. He just doesn't like to do it. He still gets bottles at night. In fact, he's bitching for one right now. He was doing strictly mocking and repetitive speech until about 2 weeks ago. Dave and I both came to the same realization on the same day- That he was finally starting to sound like a normal kid. A normal 14 month old.
His pediatrician is recommending that he be sent to a developmental pediatrician after his 2 year well baby. What the hell is a developmental pediatrician? I realize, at this point, that we're staring down the A word or at least a spectrum disorder... And I don't like the idea of labeling a toddler.
Which leads to two main issues... Our insurance doesn't cover anything that has to do with Autism. Not that it's covering any of his therapy now. (Thank you state of Kentucky for believing in early intervention.)
The 2nd issue- and I've been struggling with this one for a while... I doubt my abilities to parent this child properly. I am so used to children that hit developmental milestones early. Kids who answer the question, "How many words do you think he knows?" with "All of them." at 22 months.
Shane is completely different. He's hysterical and full of surprises every day. He started calling me Mommy the other day, and it melts my heart (But doesn't always make me open my bedroom door when I've locked myself in there to escape)... But he won't let me hug him unless it's on his terms. I can't kiss him with out getting yelled at 90% of the time. I can't comfort him when he's upset because that involves touching him. He pinches, bites, slaps, kicks, jumps on people, and head butts and thinks all of it is hysterical. He thinks it's hysterical when you do it back to him. The word no doesn't begin to register most of the time with him. He just does what he's going to do. He does what feels good to an extreme.
So my question is this, friends... How do I find the balance between my parenting style and meeting S's needs when we don't even know what they are yet? How do I stop pouring so much energy into my toddler that I feel like a horrible parent to my other two boys? How do I find time to eat dinner before 9pm? How do I handle the comments from my family members who continue to tell me that he looks perfectly normal when he's with them (Because they are constantly on the move, giving him the sensory input he craves), and ignore me when I try to explain to them WHY he's fine when he's with them... Or get over the knife in my chest feeling when my father hears S in one of his sensory melt downs and asks me why I'm not doing anything to stop it and that if that's how he behaved at their house, he would be less welcome to come visit without Mom and Dad.
Because I can't stop it, Dad. I'm helpless to stop it. I can only distract him or put him in his crib to decompress. My toddler won't let me help him. But thanks for being so supportive.
So friends... How do I stop feeling like this is my fault since he was induced early for my health? How do I stop feeling terrible when he wears me out and I lock myself in my bathroom for 15 minutes while he's watching Gabba? How do I get over my feelings of total failure?
(Final four photos courtesy of HUEit Productions. www.hueitproductions.com)