My mother saved all my report cards and test scores from preschool on. Now, as a professional, it is fascinating to look back at those and see I did in fact have an undiagnosed learning disability in reading comprehension, undiagnosed AD/HD Inattentive Type, and probably sensory processing issues as I was a tippy-toe-walker (considered a soft neurological sign).
IQ testing in early elementary yielded a Standard Score of 120 (90th percentile); IQ testing as an adult (age 26) yielded a Standard Score of 128 (97th percentile). Interesting, because “the experts,” yeah you know those guys, say IQ does not change. I think those are the same guys that tell parents to give up hope as their child will never speak.
Yet my SAT scores and GRE scores were in the gutter, less than 16th percentile. I took the SATs three times. If I had an IEP or 504 plan with a modification to take tests in a quiet room with no time limit, this would have been a night and day difference for me.
I explain all of this because I painfully remember certain subjects being really hard for me and I had to work harder than my peers. I did not feel smart at all. In fact, I began to label myself. Perhaps receiving the label of a learning disability and ADHD would have helped me understand myself.
I excelled in Math and Science but struggled with English. I remember doing most of my English reading assignments with books-on-audio. They held my attention.
Yet at 23 years old I graduated from Ohio State University cum laude with distinctions and had written two theses (one published). I started my private practice at the ripe old age of 26. The Type A personality helps.
I hope that in sharing all of this, mothers will not be so hard on themselves, as I often see. Furthermore, disabilities are not synonymous with impaired cognition. As a clinician, I see this far too often… mommies questioning themselves and trying to pinpoint the reason. When a child is diagnosed with a disability or even when you suspect there is a problem, the questions begin to stream in.
What did I eat/drink during pregnancy, OMG I had Botox when I did not know I was pregnant yet (I really did with my JoJo!), I had a little too much fun at that party that night….. Even I, as a respected professional with all the knowledge I have (and there is still so much I don’t know), could not have prevented Niko’s speech-language delays and sensory processing problems. It is just the genetic make-up my little Niko man was born with. Just like my daughter was tongue-tied and recently had surgery. Yes, very ironic for this SLP mommy!
The denial and depression phase of the grieving process are the hardest. What is even more difficult is when mom and dad are not at the same phase within the grieving process. It has been my experience that daddies tend to hang out in the denial phase for a much longer period of time, compared to mommies. I often see “mother’s intuition” keeping her completely away from the denial phase and shifting straight into acceptance and taking action. Thank you Mother Nature! Mommies sadly will hang out in the depression phase far too long, due to feelings of responsibility, helplessness, and even feelings of taking on the challenges of a special needs child alone.
Focus on what you can control. I can control my acceptance of the challenges he has. I can control my steps to take action to help him in any way I can. I can control my attitude and actions.
The brain is so pliable at a young age, and one can absolutely develop new neurological pathways for many cognitive processes, skills and motor plans. Truly amazing. I have worked with so many families who were told their child would not speak. Do not give up hope.
Thank you Lynn for sharing your story! It has been so inspirational to hear your perspective.