They say mothers know when something isn’t right with their child. You feel it.
You feel it in your bones, you feel it in your heart.
You feel it from the minute you wake up and until you go to bed at night.
That feeling doesn’t go away.
The worry doesn’t got away. In fact the worry gets stronger.
Your instinct knows something is wrong – even though family, friends and even your doctor tells you not to worry. But as I mentioned above, that worry doesn’t go away and if the worry isn’t going away; follow your instincts because you’re probably right.
When you know something isn’t quite right with your child
Finlee my 7 year old is one of the most delightful souls I know. He’s funny, kind, helpful, lovable and amazing at sport.
I started to know something was going on with Finlee when he struggled with talking so quickly as a toddler and others could not understand what he was saying. However, everyone kept telling me “he’s so delightful or he’s just a boy they develop later than girls; don’t worry so much nothing is wrong with Finlee.”
I then noticed that he struggled to remember simple instructions I would give him, he would forget where he took his shoes off, talk over his sister Chloe and would appear to not listen to me when I was speaking with him. Again… when I mentioned this to others, I was told “he’s so delightful or he’s just a boy they develop later than girls; don’t worry so much nothing is wrong with Finlee.”
I went to my GP and we agreed to get his speech assessed. He was assessed and they picked up on some minor problems, so we started Finlee with some speech therapy prior to entering into school. He made improvements, but I still wasn’t convinced his speech was the only problem.
We then started school and his prep teacher noticed some of things I noticed too. She also had concerns about his reading/speech but we didn’t make a big deal about it because we know that Australia doesn’t have a play based curriculum and that there is a lot of pressure on little ones these days. However, my gut kept saying something isn’t quite right.
I started out by getting his hearing tested and he passed with flying colours.
I then had his eyes checked and everything was ok, but he was confirmed with being blue/green colour blind.
I asked my GP if I should do anything else at this time, but was told to just wait for a little bit longer.
Finlee then started grade 1 and his teacher started to pick up on things with his speech. I arranged for him to start back with speech therapy, he even went to an extra reading program 4 X days a week for 2 terms and we saw some improvements, but the teacher kept advising he was behind, not concentrating, forgetful etc.
When I asked for the school to assess Finlee, I was advised that it would take 18+ months for him to be assessed through the school. My husband and I are very aware that early intervention is key in order to give your child the best chance for the future, so we arranged to have the testing done privately.
How to get help for your child
I’m a mental health clinician of 15 years, so I’m aware of the process we needed to go through in order to get answers for Finlee. However, so many families don’t, so I thought I’d share with you what we’ve done over the last 11 weeks:
- Met with GP to get referral to Developmental Pediatrician (cost bulk billed)
- Met with Developmental Pediatrician for 2 X assessments (cost $350 per assessment total $700)
- Met with Speech Pathologist for 2 X assessments (total cost $550)
- Met with Neuro-psychologist to complete psychometric testing (total cost $570 because I had been to the same practice as the Development Pediatrician or else it would have been $1000)
- Met with Development Pediatrician to go over all the test results and map out where to from here (cost $350)
All 3 assessments, completed by 3 different specialists – have confirmed that Finlee has troubles in many different areas: cognitive difficulties, language/speech difficulties, but also with attention/impulse otherwise known as executive functioning difficulties.
Finlee has been diagnosed with ADHD and additional learning/speech problems and will need different interventions to assist him to reach his full potential.
As you can see this is a complex process to get help for your child, but equally super expensive and with very little rebates back from the government. However, my I’m glad to have done these tests in order to help us understand Finlee’s difficulties, but also confirm what my gut has been telling me along.
The future for Finlee
As a mental health clinician myself, I am never one to a) jump to a diagnosis or b) suggest medication UNLESS needed in order to reduce risk to self/others or all other avenues like change of diet, change of exercise, bloods, other interventions etc have been explored. We’ve done all of this and some, so our future interventions, are interventions we haven’t tried and if these interventions are going to help Finlee, then as his parent I have a duty of care to at least test these options out.
Before we can address the learning difficulties and speech difficulties we must address the executive functioning difficulties. What this means is if Finlee can’t concentrate, control the impulses etc he will continue to struggle with trying to learn and retain the information he’s being taught and we will make little improvement.
So starting tomorrow, we’ll start Finlee on a small dose of ritalin (medication used to for the central nervous system. It affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control) and over the next few weeks increase his dose or stop the dose if we feel it’s not working.
In addition, we will also be:
- working with a clinical psychologist to help Finlee understand how his brain works and to learn new strategies to reduce the impulsivity etc;
- working with the school to ensure that during the day Finlee has the support he needs to reach his full potential, while his teacher manages the other 24+ kids in the class;
- if needed once we assess how the medication is or isn’t working, link Finlee to a speech pathologist
The next few weeks and even months might be a bit rocky, but I know one thing. I will continue to love Finlee for the beautiful soul he is. I will encourage him daily to continue being creative, spunky, loving, caring and an awesome football player. He is not alone in this journey and I will be beside him cheering, supporting and advocating for anything he needs.
And remember… when it comes to your child, you are the expert. Follow your gut, because it’s probably right.
About the Author
Angela is an author, entrepreneur, blogger, business coach, mental health clinician and most importantly a mother. She explores various topics related to parenting/children on her blog and also in her four books: 30 Days, 30 Ways for Mothers to Take Care of Themselves, 30 Days, 30 Ways for Connecting with Your Child , Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids and 30 Days of Christmas Cheer – A Month of Holiday Traditions and Memory Making.