I’ve read a lot lately about us trusting our intuition as moms, the experts of our own children and the ones who know them best. And I’m 100% on board. I think no one can be as fierce an advocate as a mom who is determined to seek out the best for her child. I’ve personally known moms who have pushed and pushed to finally receive a diagnosis when they knew something wasn’t right with their child but couldn’t find anyone who believed them.
But I read something recently that I think took mom intuition into troublesome territory.
The blog post was written by a mother whose child was showing signs of having a speech delay as he approached two years of age with very few words. Her son’s communication eventually improved with little intervention and this mom was using her platform to reassure others whose kids aren’t on the typically developing timeline not to panic or get too wrapped up in arbitrary milestones.
I know that milestones fall on a wide spectrum and many apparent issues can resolve themselves with nothing more than some extra time. But I also believe that if a trained professional suggests my child might need additional support from a specialist, there is really nothing to be lost, and potentially everything to be gained, from getting that referral.
I get that it can be scary to face the prospect that our child might not be developing typically in one or more areas. As moms, we tend to let our anxiety carry us over the deep end in a heartbeat and google is definitely not our friend in this regard. I think the hesitancy to have our kids evaluated — be it with a speech language pathologist, an occupational or physical therapist, a mental health counselor or someone else — comes from a desire to normalize these behaviors and avoid the stigma of a label. We want our kids to have a typical childhood, doing all the things we envisioned for them when they were born and more.
But that’s the whole point of getting our kids the support they need from specialists who have unique training in their particular set of challenges. Early intervention has come a long way in the last few decades and can make a huge difference in a kid’s later life. Tennessee and many other states have agencies like Tennessee’s Early Intervention System which exist solely to help connect families to resources their children may need before they ever even enter the school system.
I know none of us want to receive news that something is not “right” with our kids. It can be hard to come to terms with the fact that they might need more help than we can provide them. But a referral for a specialist has nothing to do with parenting failures and everything to do with helping our kids reach the full, amazing potential we see when we look in their faces. And if additional people exist whose entire job is to help our kids be their most successful selves, why wouldn’t we want as many people as possible in our kid’s corner?