I resolved to adjust to what seemed like the loss of a child whom I expected to be like his siblings. My days were filled with challenges as I tried to understand this pleasant and playful child’s needs and wants. Taking notes of his actions, his likes and dislikes all the while tending to the needs of my other young children and working a full-time job. As his protector, his cheerleader and his voice, I overwhelmed the daycare provider by checking in on him at various times throughout the day. I struggled with not being with him as much as I wanted. I couldn’t imagine what it’d be like if he was actually in school.
Nearing his 2nd birthday, he decided to walk! What a grand day it was to see him waddling across the room. His smile was big and wide, as his siblings and I cheered him on. Still wishing that I could hear his little voice speak words, I reached out to his doctor to schedule a hearing exam. The hearing tests came back normal. After sharing my concerns, I was advised to seek out early childhood intervention services.
The multidisciplinary evaluation for speech and language resulted in what I suspected. Snoop had some speech, language and motor skill challenges. He was eligible for early intervention services. For weeks after this diagnosis, I wrestled with the decision to quit my job. Like any other mother, I wanted to make sure that my son had what he needed. And who would be best equipped to do that than me? After much prayer and tears, and with my husband’s support, I quit my job and joined the ranks of stay-at-home moms for the next three years.
My goal was to have Snoop reading and talking by the time he headed to Kindergarten. That was a lot easier said than done. He struggled to understand simple instructions as if he didn’t process what I was saying. It was like from my lips to his ears somewhere there was a disconnect. Both of us spent many days frustrated. I’d repeat what I had said but it was as if he wasn’t listening even though he was looking right at me. I didn’t understanding what was going on with my boy.
The first day of school came a lot faster than I expected. I struggled to let him go and he struggled to leave me. As he lined up in the yard, I held back the tears until he exited the schoolyard with his classmates and walked into the school. Questions flooded my mind. Would the teacher understand him? Would she read my traditional “Get to know My Child” note that I placed in his notebook? Will his classmates pick on him at recess? Will he ask to go to the bathroom? Did I prepare him socially to interact with others?
The next several weeks of kindergarten was beyond challenging. It seemed like every other day I was called to the school for a social issue, a communication issue or a personal self-care issue that affected my son. I met several times with the principal and counselors who assured me that there were no issues with my son other than him learning at his own pace. The principal didn’t believe in segregating children with special needs, due to the “No Child Left Behind Act”. In fact, it was as if the IEP I submitted at the time I registered him for school was null and void. I felt like support at school and at home was seriously lacking. Not being able to prove what I didn’t know at the time was most definitely one of the most frustrating moments in my life as a mom. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t stop seeking help for my son, no matter what!
1st grade had come and gone with all its challenges, additional supports and tears but it was worth it to finally hear Snoopy read. As it turned out, he liked reading but math frustrated him—a lot! I loved seeing him at his personal best even if it seemed awkward to others.
In The Lion’s Den,