Often times, first time moms fear that they will not know what to do with their first child. That fear factor goes away quickly. Nature is so wise that when you give birth, you do not only get a beautiful baby, but with it, you also get your sixth sense, your mother instinct. This mother instinct is powerful.
As a first time mom, you tend to believe in most of what people tell you because you know that what they are telling you is based on experience. You are all ears listening to tips and trying to figure out what works best in your life and in that of your family.
When first child became a toddler and was supposed to be already talking, and he wouldn’t, I was a bit concerned. The pediatrician would tell me to give him some time, friends would tell me “oh, that is ok., boys tend to speak later;” others would tell me that because he listens to two languages at the same time, he was taking his time to figure them out, and so forth. They all seemed valid reasons. So, I kind of went with what they all told me even though something deep inside bothered me and told me otherwise.
Learning Disability: Trust Your Mother Instinct
My son was a happy child all the time, they used to call him the “clapping baby”. He would clap and get excited about everything. But, when he started going to preschool, he started to encapsulate himself gradually. Teachers would tell me that I needed to speak to him in English because that was the reason he was not talking. Furthermore, the pediatrician told me that bilingual kids tend to speak later because they are sorting out the languages. However, they did give me some info to take my child to the government program No Child Left Behind for an initial evaluation. My child did not qualify for No Child Left Behind due to his “bilingualism.” ;(
Again, I kind of believed that it may be due to bilingualism and kind of not. Deep inside me, I knew there was something wrong, something else that I could not figure out by myself. My son had always been the soul of playdates, parties, family reunions, etc. It was not normal that he would now withdraw. So, on my own initiative, I decided to put my son on private speech therapy. The wait list was 6 months. I waited. He went on to preschool, a different one this time, and he did a bit better. After 3 years of speech therapy, although, there was progress, and the therapist would tell me all these reasons why his progress was slow, which I did not buy them. I thought there had to be something else than just a regular speech delay. So, I pulled him out of speech therapy. I thought he had received enough of that and my son should have been already speaking better.
Learning Disability: Auditory Processing Disorder
I took him to the Children’s Hospital and made appointment with the best pediatric neurologist. Again, the wait was 5 months. I did not care, since this was not a life/death situation. I waited. I went to the appointment with my son. He was diagnosed with a auditory processing disorder. Wow! Tears came down my eyes. I did not know what all that meant for his life and our family.
When I presented the diagnosis to the pediatrician, he was impressed that I was doing all of these things on my own, and he said I needed to get an Individualized Education Program in school. By this time, my son was already in the middle of first grade. I just could not believe that his kindergarten teacher or his first grade teacher did not see anything weird about my son. I applied for an Individualized Education Program for my son per my pediatrician’s recommendation. The school did not grant it based on the premise he was having issues with English due to his bilingualism. I told them that my son was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder, but they would not take it because my son had not been comprenhensively evaluated and that what I got was just a clinical evaluation by the doctor.
Faced with this situation, I decided to have my son evaluated from head to toes from a psycholigical and neurological perspective. The insurance would not cover the psychoeducational evaluation and many other ones that needed to be done. My husband and I obviously did not care. We waited again about 4 months to get appointments for all of these evaluations at the Children’s Hospital. I dad almost a Bible-thick of papers mede up of results, letters and everything else, which I presented to the school for a second consideration. They said no. I felt I had reached an impass. I felt a bit in despair and sad. I did not know what to do now. Talking with one of sisters-in-law, she recommended to speak with a friend of hers whose child had also speech problems. So, I did. It is here when I met my change agent.
Learning Disability: His/Her Education is on Your Hands
This mom gave me the courage, the hope, the inspiration that I needed to fight for my son. She told me, “you need to fight the school system. It is a long and hard journey, but you will make it. Start calling, knocking at people’s door, until you get what you want for your son. Remember, you are the ONLY hope he has. His education is now on your hands.” So, I did. I fought the school system, changed him to an Spanish Immersion school so that they would not give me the excuse that because he was biligual he was not speaking correctly. I became an advocate of my son. I called round meetings all the time with his teachers; and drove them crazy. I became an expert of who he was/is, and now my son is getting the proper help at school in both languages. If you meet him, you will never realize that he has a learning disability. He is such a fine and inspirational boy. He is loved by his teachers and friends, he is a leader in his class, and although reading and writing is still challenging for him, you would never realize that he really started talking age 6.5. He speaks English and Spanish. He is in the advanced academics program at school with an IEP because he is a twice exceptional child (2e child). I am proud of him. Every breakthrough he makes, it a big achievement for all of us.
My change agent made me see an opportunity and the light to change the world of and for my child. It has been a hard journey because I faced my rocks on the way. But, it was so much worth it. I am very involved in my child’s education. He still receives private tutoring at home. I wanted to make sure he is well supported at home and at school. I did everything in my hands and I still keep on doing it to ensure he learns the tools and strategies to do just fine and have a successful future.
I hope this post inspires other moms with a child who has a learning disability to realize that you are your child’s hope. Their education is on your hands whether your child has a problem or not. Become an expert of who your child is.