Thursday, October 8, 2015

Do you tell an unsuspecting mother that you think her child may have a problem?

Have you ever come across a situation where you see a child and recognise that something may be a bit off? Perhaps it is at a birthday party or in your kids school, in a play group or in another random social situation that you get the feeling that something’s not quite right somewhere? The child’s mother is an acquaintance with whom you have chit chatted a couple of times and you know that she doesn’t suspect anything. Or, if you want to take it to another level, you have a hunch you’re your nephew has something going on developmentally and your brother and sister in law are in complete denial. In fact they keep on making excuses for his lack of interest in others or his delayed speech and have no clue why he is mesmerised by the rotating fan in your living room. You of course know what could be going on because you are almost a therapist yourself as your child is on the spectrum and you’ve been there and done it all!

My question is what would you do? Would you communicate your observation to the unsuspecting mother? Or would you turn away and let your sibling discover the inevitable at what could be a much later date and time?

I have been faced a few times with this situation. In one case the mother in denial cut off all communication with me. In another, the mom needed a slight push to go seek an assessment and that is exactly what she did. It’s a tough one really, to say or not to say. However, in my opinion and I am sure you agree, there is only one thing that matters and that is the child in question, for time is everything.

Most often it is the parents/caregivers that hold back a child’s progress. Nothing can be more detrimental to the prognosis of a child with differences and special needs than parents in denial.

The best advise I was given at the very beginning of the discovery of my son’s autism was that I should go see a psychologist for my own emotional needs and thank god I listened. Raising a child with ASD is a job and a half and more. I am forever grateful to the paediatrician who advised me to seek help and to my husband who encouraged me. Do not procrastinate. It is not worth it!

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