Friday, July 25, 2014

Mama Bear...GRRR...

For those people who know me, I'm not big into confrontations.  I'm more likely to keep it inside or just vent to my family or friends.  But every so often my fiesty side comes out...then look out!  This morning I was sitting at a car dealership...the same car dealership that just a year ago I vowed I would NEVER step foot in again.  I had received a recall notice for my power steering, so I went back on my vow and took my car in. Since it was a recall repair there was no charge and it would only take about 45 big deal, right? However, when I saw that the woman who would be checking me in was the same woman I had dealt with the last time I was there, I couldn't help but feel a little bit of irritation.  While I was in the waiting room, I remembered back to that incident and got that pitty feeling in my stomach.  It got me thinking and although I am sure there are several more, I can clearly remember 2 1/2 times when I got that feeling as Matthew's mom.  (I know, how do you have 1/2 of a time? Keep'll see.)

The first time was in January of 2009.  (Quick recap for those who don't know us personally:  Matthew was adopted from China in November of 2008.  We did not know at that time that he had autism, but he was adopted through the Special Needs Program and the primary label they gave us was growth delay.  He was in the under 3rd percentile for height and weight.  At 20 months old he was not walking or talking.)  I was on the phone with a lead case manager at a birth to three program.  They had already come out to do an evaluation on him.  She was explaining to me that they could start occupational therapy and physical therapy, but that we would have to wait on the Speech and Language services because technically it was an English as a Second Language issue. Mama Bear came out big time!  I explained that maybe normally that might be the case when a child is adopted from another country, you might wait to see if they pick up English.  But this case was different...he wasn't saying ANY Chinese words.  In fact, he rarely made sounds.  It was obvious to me, regardless of the reason, that his speech was going to be delayed.  Now, it was long enough ago that I don't remember all the details (like how many conversations we had), but I remember spouting about how important early intervention was and I might have asked to talk to her supervisor.  In the end...he started Speech and Language not long after that!

Interestingly enough the second time was also about Speech and Language.  At three years old (about a year later), he transitioned into Early Childhood.  Surprisingly, he wasn't identified under the autism label at that time, but the autism specialist felt that some of the characteristics that he was displaying (no eye contact, hitting his head and the delayed gross motor, fine motor and speech) could have also been explained by sensory deprivation in the orphanage.  Now why didn't my Mama Bear side come out then?  I don't know...maybe I wanted what she was saying to be true.  It would be a situation that we could "undo", not necessarily something that he would have to live with his whole life. So, when did Mama Bear come out again?  It was springtime and I had received a call from his Early Childhood Speech and Language teacher. She explained that he would not qualify for Speech and Language during summer school. Say what? In a matter of fact way she explained that she would have to say that he would regress without Speech and Language and she couldn't say that.  I hung up the phone, feeling confused...I mean, if you put him on a pretend scale and not talking/very few sounds was at the bottom of that do you regress??? But if he's at the bottom of the scale, wouldn't that be all the more reason that he needs Speech and Language over the summer?  Lucky for me, I had a wonderful Speech and Language teacher as my colleague and friend. She helped me find the right words through researching the law on Extended School Year and she helped me formulate my argument.  I am happy to say that he got Speech and Language that summer and has had it every summer since!

You just kept reading to find out what the 1/2 was, didn't you? I consider this example a 1/2 because while I got that feeling in my stomach...I didn't do anything about it.  We were at a picnic and a child (who knows Matthew) says to an adult (who doesn't know Matthew), "He doesn't know anything.  He doesn't talk." Goodness knows, I have responded to "He can't talk" many times before with a simple "He can talk.  He just uses signs instead of words."  Maybe Mama Bear was in hibernation or maybe the timing wasn't right because I would have had to address both statements. However, I think if Matthew could talk, this poster might have been what he said to her:


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