I often hear the questions: “When was your child diagnosed?” or “When did you start going to therapy?” and I am the type of person who takes every query seriously. I always strive to provide satisfactory answers especially when I know that it takes courage to ask a simple question to a total stranger. Half of the time my answer seems to disappoint the people I talk with. Some are quite transparent with their disappointment while others are better at masking their emotions. It doesn’t offend me when people look at me and see a failure or someone lacking. People have their truths and I have mine, this has always been my personal view and always will be. People are entitled to judge based on what they see or hear but their judgment have nothing to do with me. It’s not that I don’t care, that would be a lie, because I care. A lot. It’s not cool to be misunderstood or hated. But people don’t live my life for me. We could walk the same path and still see and experience the world differently so people’s opinions don’t reflect my character. It reflects theirs.
Cai was ‘properly’ diagnosed at age 5, he is almost 7 now, before that was a series of misdiagnosis, depression and heartaches but that’s another story for another time. One of the things that our developmental pediatrician said to me that really stuck was, “It doesn’t matter when your child was diagnosed. It helps to catch it early but your progress will depend on you and your child.” Whenever I feel like I am failing or when I feel like I am not doing enough to help my son I try very hard to remember that small act of kindness and take those words to heart.
Every individual is different; their thought process and physical capabilities vary. It’s what makes being alive so fun because if we’re all built the same way then life and living would be infernally boring. Where am I going with this? My point is, even if ten children have the same diagnosis they are immensely different. Why? Because as I stated before these children are growing human beings and each of them are developing individuals.
I cannot compare Cai to another child who started therapy before him or even to someone who started at same day. I cannot compare him to a child who’s in the same age or measure his development through the lacking abilities of his peers. That would be wrong in so many levels not to mention unjust and bigoted.
I could, however, compare his present self to his past self. To look back on his previous behaviors and abilities, to note what he lacked then and what he has achieved now.
It’s good to set high goals. Who wouldn’t want to mainstream at the earliest opportunity? But be reasonable.
You cannot force growth.
You cannot force development.
You cannot force progress.
Always remember that it all depends on your child. He/she will take his/her own sweet time. Aside from giving our children room to grow, providing them with tools in order to develop and giving them a chance to progress to the next level, our most important task, as parents, is to be patient.
Know that this is not a competition.
This is not a contest.
This is not a race.