Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Special Needs Diagnosis

Friends, it's been a hard couple of months.

I mentioned in my Year in Review post that we had been seeing a lot of the doctor lately, especially our 4 year old son B.

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For the past year or so, we had been noticing some behaviors that did not seem normal.  "What actually is normal?", we kept asking ourselves.  Is he just a wild, highly sensitive, easily distracted 3 year old boy?  I felt deep in my heart that something was just not quite right.  But I kept telling myself - and hearing from many others over and over again - that his behavior was normal. 

Then last fall, I finally got the nudge I needed to seek answers for our son.

In my mom's group we read The Four Keys to Everlasting Love by Manuel and Karee Santos.  In the chapter about raising your children, they said: "You [as parents] know better than anyone what they [each one of your children] need..."  It's such a simple sentence, but it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I kept forcing myself to believe that he was a normal, wild 3 year old boy because of other people's well-intentioned opinions.  But this one sentence finally gave me courage and peace: Yes, I do know him best!  I need to follow my heart, which for months has been telling me that something is off.  We need to find out what's wrong...now!

So late last year, we finally took him to a behavior therapist who specialized in adopted children.  And we got a couple possible diagnoses, which all fall under the heading of special needs.

Suddenly, all of the pieces started falling into place.  This was why he was acting this way.  Why he couldn't do certain things.  Why he was so emotional.  All of his idiosyncrasies were actually red flags.

I have a lot of guilt right now.  Why didn't I do something sooner?  Why didn't I listen to my heart?  How much better would he be right now had we gone to the therapist a year ago?

I feel so sad for him.  How much will he struggle and suffer for his entire life?

I also have a lot of fear.  Will he be a full-functioning, faith-filled man someday?  How will this affect our relationship as a family? 

Thank you for the reminder, Whitney!

But I do have hope too.  There's still a very long way to go, but we have seen some progress over the past two months.  We think we've found a school that can really help him.  We're on our way to getting him tested for extra help at school and starting with a new occupational therapist.  And my husband and I are learning what methods do and do not work in teaching and disciplining him.

But, friends, it's hard.

It's hard for him because his brain doesn't automatically do what ours does.  He struggles a lot.

It's hard for J and L, who notice something is up with their brother.  So many appointments and new things.  B now requires a lot of one-on-one attention from Mom and Dad.

It's hard for my husband and I because helping him requires a huge amount of time and patience.  I also feel guilty we waited to find an answer.  And we worry about his future.

So my prayer is this:

I pray for B that his therapies help him and that he can grow, thrive, and one day be a full-functioning, faith-filled Catholic man.

I pray for J and L that they will be good siblings, do all they can to help and love him, and be good role models for him.

I pray for my husband Jim and I that we can be excellent parents for him and that we choose the right therapies, schools, and doctors; and I pray for peace, strength, perseverance, and gentleness for us as we teach, discipline, and guide him.

Will you please keep us in your prayers too?  We are so grateful for this community and for your prayers!

And if you have any advice, Bible verses, or anything that might help us, please email me or share in the comments below!  Thank you all so much!

God bless,
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Two more things I want to share:

If you are going through something similar, please listen to you heart about your child and don't wait.  If you have an inkling that your child's behavior is not normal, see your pediatrician and demand to see a behavior therapist, child psychologist, occupational therapist - anyone who can help you!  One of two things will happen: the therapist will tell you your child is fine or they tell you your child needs help.  Either way, you, your family, and your child win.  Listen to your gut - you know your child best.

And at this time, I will not share his diagnoses or his specific behaviors for his privacy.  This is his life and story, and we want to respect that.  So even though I'm being vague about his specifics, I will share my emotions and thoughts surrounding this diagnosis because I want to be honest about life and motherhood and hopefully what we learn will help someone else going through the same thing.

Thank you, friends!

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