Yesterday I spoke on the phone with one of the most awesome moms I know. She is parenting what my friend Julie affectionately calls “The Combo Platter Kid.” Only this mom’s kid is a different kind of combo platter than Julie’s LuLu is.
I have blogged about this mom before. She has really struggled herself to understand her son’s behaviors and how best to intervene. But she is getting conflicting and confusing advice from the professionals with whom she consults.
Based on what she has observed with her son, she doesn’t feel he is autistic. I don’t believe she is fighting that diagnosis per se … she just doesn’t believe that is the problem. From all that she has told me on the phone, her son sounds like he has major TRAUMA issues and major TRUST issues. He has endured and been subjected to medical procedures since he was an infant. His trust and trauma issues have significantly delayed his development in some areas, plus his palate issues have obviously affected his speech, so his ability to articulate his feelings (never mind the fact that he isn’t even three years old yet) is simply not there. So he takes out his anger and his frustration on his mom … who is simultaneously his source of comfort and his “abuser” … because she takes him to the doctor.
This poor mom is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. She is quite bright, quite committed to her child, quite tuned in to the nuances of his behavior, and quite confused. How could she be otherwise? I can’t imagine trying to sort out what she is seeing. I can’t imagine trying to not worry about how far behind he is falling in speech and other developmental areas, knowing that if she pushed him to “catch up” he would only fight her harder and exhibit even more PTSD.
So all she can do is wait, and more or less work with her son on his time schedule. And in the meantime, as she continues to seek support and answers, she continually hears criticism from folks who are only seeing the leg of the elephant, or the trunk of the elephant, or the ear of the elephant—but not the whole elephant.
The only advice I presume to be qualified to offer is advice about attachment. Perhaps I am only seeing part of the elephant as well. But from where I sit, if her son doesn’t learn to trust her and eventually other adults, his speaking disability will not be his biggest issue. I think this mom is doing a fabulous job and her little boy is lucky to have her.
I once sent Julie a bumper sticker that says Been There, Still There. I had a stash of other profound bumper stickers that were purchased at the same time and the same place… although I have no idea when that was! I am sending a couple to this mom. They read:
Worry about your own d**n family! (Only without the asterisks!)
… and …
I do whatever my Rice Krispies tell me to!
Can you tell how my life was going when I bought those bumper stickers?
Maybe they will help get a few folks off this awesome mom’s back!