We had our initial interview for Idaho Early Intervention today. I was really anxious about it and I am still not 100% sure why. I think I was concerned that they would find that D doesn't really need the help. But isn't that a GOOD thing? I should say YES! Of course! But I just can't say it. I don't know that I feel he definitely needs it, but I'm not sure I know how to help him through some of his issues on my own.
When my son melts down at the grocery store and starts crying, screaming and thrashing and generally making a scene, I just want to tuck him under my coat and run for the door. Forget that I just spent an hour finding the much-needed food and supplies. When we're sitting in the quietest part of church and all of the other kids are barely making a sound and he starts arching his back and throwing anything he can get his hands on and screaming and saying "NO" as many times as he can all while boxing his own ears, I don't know what to do. Usually Dad steps in at that point and takes my son out in the hall where he will be less disruptive to the meeting. How can I function as a mother and teach my son how to be fully functional?
The problem is two-fold. First, he is big for his age. Most people ask me if he is 3 years old, not 2. If he spoke better, I might lie and say "Yes, he's 3." Somehow that might make me feel better. But being a 2 year old isn't easy. At least he doesn't seem like he thinks it is. Anyway, I was saying, since he looks like a three-year-old he is most often held to three-year-old maturity standards until people learn differently, which usually isn't in the first or even third meeting. My son is pretty shy and it takes a while for him to warm up to you enough before you realize he's not just a shy boy. He just doesn't talk as much, or as clearly, as the other kids in his nursery group. How do I tell people, "Yes he looks like a 3-year-old, but he's two, and he's even behind for his age so don't expect him to sit still and be quiet. He won't."
The second issue is that part of me doesn't even want anyone to know that my son might have special needs. It isn't obvious at first glance that anything is even wrong. In fact nothing is severely wrong. He has been slightly behind in his speech and other developmental patterns, but he's catching up quickly. His speech is still hard to understand, even for me, and I'm with him more than anyone else. If I tell his nursery leaders that he has special needs, what will that do to how they treat him? I want him to have the best chance at a normal life, not a life with special needs requiring special treatment and special circumstances. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just not what I feel my son needs. He might be a bit slower in his development than other kids who share his birthday or even a few months either way, but he isn't obviously behind. What's more, his delays are probably not permanent, and even if they are the chances that he can overcome them are really pretty high.
So, does my son have special needs? Yes. Does he require special circumstances? Sometimes. I just don't want people to lump him in a category that sets him up for a mediocre performance in school or in life. He is worth more than that to me, and I think he is worth more than that to almost anyone else who knows him. He's sweet and loving and he knows a lot more than he is able to communicate to us right now. I think that will change. As he gets older he'll be able to overcome or at least compensate for his shortcomings with speech. After all, there are a heck of a lot more ways to communicate than just speaking. So that brings me to the question of the day which is, how do I tell people what they need to know about my son without making him sound broken or like he's missing a few? I'll let you know what I figure out what to say, but for now I'm planning to not say anything unless he needs me to or unless other people seem to question my behavior or his and them knowing might help them interact with him better.