About 3 months ago, one of my closest friends – who has 3 beautiful children – got some news about her youngest daughter. She was going in for her 12 month check up, and my friend was told she was at a 10 month level. She was told to come back in 2 months, and if the baby was not at a 12 month level at that time, they would have to take their next step in intervention.
For those who do not know this, this is a very big deal. Milestones happen very quickly in your first year, and this is a big red flag that something is developmentally wrong with your child. So, naturally, my friend was upset. Actually, upset does not actually describe the feeling you have. Helpless, devastated, personally did something wrong for this to have happened… it’s a mixed basket of feelings, and my friend was feeling every feeling you get when you are told your child is not reaching the levels that they should be reaching.
My friend texted me, telling me she felt awful for “putting this on me” because of what I was dealing with Alexa, and let me know everything that was happening.
When you are told something like this… you have to think carefully what to say. She has been a rock for me while I have been going through the stages of understanding Alexa. She has always listened to me, a shoulder to cry on, supported me, and always knew what to say, how to say it, and was just a real comfort to me.
So, when she told me what was happening, The first thing I told her was she could always come to me no matter what was happening in my life. I want to be there for her as she has always been there for me.
Then… I had to take a moment. As awful as this sounds, and I don’t want to admit this, but I had a moment of “I’m not going to be alone in raising a special needs child.” and honestly, I think anyone who is raising an autistic child and hears this, it crosses their mind. Of course I felt extremely guilty and selfish when that thought came into my head. I would NEVER wish that on anyone. It’s hard to explain the thought, unless you have been in the “special needs parents” shoes. There is this moment of “Oh my gosh, she will really understand… really get it” but very quickly your mind goes “Oh my gosh, I DO NOT want her to really understand… really get it”
So my next thing was thinking was this little baby is too aware to be developmentally delayed and not be able to catch up. Alexa at this stage was in her little bubble. The baby was different. This baby is the most laid back, easygoing, good-natured, smiley kid that I have EVER met. And, I seen a lot of babies. After working in the child and youth care field, I met a lot of developmentally delayed children… and I’m not an expert in any means, but the awareness level of this child… That really had me thinking she was going to be ok… I know every child is different, but simply the eye contact of this child was enough to tell me, she was not like Alexa.
Having said that… I told my friend about the awareness observed. But, I did not say the “Oh, she will be ok developmentally” – I had no idea if the baby would be or not. I did not give the possible false hope that I knew all too well from my own experience… This helps no one in this situation. I didn’t tell her the “don’t worry about it.” or “she is too young for them to make that call.” I didn’t say the simple “Oh she will catch up.”
What I did do was listen. What I did said was “I’m here.” What I did let her know is IF this is what “the powers that be” have given her, that she is a strong woman – one of the strongest I know – and she may not see it now, but she will be ok. It’s not a death sentence – it’s a slight curve ball, but eventually, all 5 in her little family, would eventually grow to this being the norm, and though this is not what she planned for her life… for her daughter’s life… they will all be happy, healthy and in the end will be ok.
In the end, The two months passed, and my friend worked with the baby every day to bring her up to meet the milestones. And, as I previously stated, this baby was very aware. She went to the doctor, and she passed them with flying colours. She has caught up and is where she needs to be. It was a relief to say the least. She will still need to be monitored closely, and my friend still worries she will fall behind, and frankly I can understand that. And, as we go through this journey with our children, we will continue to support, listen, and be there for each other.
P.S. I asked permission from my friend before writing about this – dude, you can’t just talk about other people’s lives without permission haha.