Monday, May 17, 2010

Mother's Instinct

We had the IEP today and my brain feels like mush right now. I feel the meeting went well in that the school she's at is on top of things and is caring. However, these meetings are so emotionally draining because you hear about how many difficulties your child is having. Initially, we had to fight for services. Actually, we had to fight because nobody else thought there were any problems with her! They couldn't imagine her being autistic.

We didn't seek out help for our daughter until she was 4.5 years old. I started noticing issues with her a year earlier. But when I raised questions with her preschool teachers and school director, everyone commented that she was "fine!" "She was just off-the-charts smart!" or "She's really creative." We also heard that she'll catch up on her development milestones that summer! It took a full year for me to listen to myself instead of what others' opinions. Even then, it was a bit of an uphill battle. The school district psychologist was about to deny us services based on her in-office assessment of "She's the best kid in the world!" Luckily, a case worker stepped in and convinced the psychologit to observe my daughter at her preschool. It wasn't until then that opinions on my daughter changed, and she was given services for autism.

Along the way, I've heard other moms question whether their child needs help. Other moms will usually chime in with a "He's fine! All kids do that!" On mom internet boards, I see the same thing. A mother posts concerns about her child or will post concerns a teacher raises, and everyone chimes in with, "She's fine!" or "What does that teacher know? She's not a psychologist!"

My advice to any mother who feels something isn't right with their child is to get them assessed pronto! I think a mother's instinct is often dead on! I really wish I had listened to my inner voice years ago. Now I look at my daughter and wonder how any of us missed seeing her autistic symptoms that were present for so long. When I hear stories of teachers giving feedback to parents that something might be "off" with their child, I feel envious that our teachers didn't feel anything was wrong--or feel comfortable enough to broach the topic.

Early intervention is key. The earlier the child gets help, the better able they are to improve their skills to function in the world. Those precious preschool years should not be squandered if at all possible.

If you feel that something is off with your child, my advice is to get your child assessed ASAP! It can really make a difference. I've seen some amazing success stories! I'm banking that my daughter will be one too!


  1. I'm glad the IEP went well. I should always trust your instincts when it comes to your child :)

  2. I'm there with you Cheryl. How many times did I ask the Doctor about the tip toe walking and heard back that he'll out grow it. Finally I trusted my own judgement & took him in to a psychiatrist despite the GP and the insurance's opinion. But how much time did I waste not trusting my own gut feeling.

  3. ITA - an eval never hurts. I'll never understand why everyone discourages people from them. It's so much easier to deal with issues at an early age when therapies are FUN.

    Glad your IEP went well, even if it's hard. They are definitely emotional and trying. We had ours last week and I was drained afterward. But I'm always sort of glad that we seem to be on the same page as the rest of the team. I'm encouraged when we all are working together toward the same goal.

  4. Glad you made it through the meeting. Your advice is spot on! We pleaded with doctors to find out what was wrong with our son. Finally when he was seven we got the dignosis of high-function autism. Before that we were told that we needed parenting classes, that he was too smart for us and one doctor smugly said he would take him home if we didn't want him!
    Follow your gut and don't let go!
    Well said!

  5. Stopping from SITS! You are so right! It is best to do all you can early. It gives you a better picture of what you can do and what services can help you.

  6. Glad the IEP meeting went well. This is a great PSA all parents need to hear.

  7. I agree, as soon as I realized Tommy was barely saying a thing when he was two, I had him evaluated and he immediately started speech and occupational therapy.

  8. Visiting from SITS.

    I am a teacher and I couldn't agree with you more. Usually it is the other way around for us, we will try to help parents understand that their child is having difficulties and they refuse to hear it. As a mother I know it is hard but we are our child's only advocate. Good for you for having a voice and even better for your daughter!


  9. I second the fact that ieps are emotionally draining. I always feel like I need a nap afterwards.

    No one ever thought my son had anything wrong either with him. I suspected something was off at about 18 months but no one ever agreed with me. I kept asking ppl drs teachers don't u think he has autism? everyone said no no no he definately doesn't have THAT!

    and when I had issues with him they said, ohhh you are not strict enough, know how to handle him, you have too many kids thats why he acts that way, you don't give him enough attention, he's just a brat, he's just a boy, he's bad...etc.

  10. stopping by from SITS. glad your IEP meeting went well. My lil bro has Down Syndrome and my mom is always talking about them. My son is in EI as well due to his traumatic birth.

  11. You are so right. Sometimes (because of the way society looks at things) it's enough to make a mom doubt her own instincts...but they are in place to protect and help our kiddos!