Nadine is Mei Mei in our family. We call her Mei Mei, so do the grandparents, aunties, uncles, church friends, neighbours etc. I know this was quite common, cos when we call her, “MEI MEI”, many little girls do look up! (guess it’d be the same, if we called out “BABY”)
Well, Mei Mei is 4 this year, and just two months ago that we found out she needed therapy to aid her cognitive development. This is a big word which simply means she needs help with “information processing, conceptual resources, perceptual skill, language learning, & other aspects of brain development”. Now, that’s just about everything that our brain does ya? So how is it that we only found out this year?
We realised something was amiss when she was three. She was friendly and cheery but very quiet, and only spoken when spoken to, and even then, only answered Yes, No or Don’t Know. We always attributed that to her quiet introverted character. We did our due diligence and checked with the PD and her childcare teachers, and everyone said, it’s normal. She’ll speak more soon, she’s a late bloomer. Friends with kids said the same thing, it’s normal, don’t worry. And the big word. W.A.I.T
We had relatives who told us we were worrying over nothing. We had friends who cited examples of Einstein and his golden mouth at 3 years old. We had concerned personnel who told us we were pushing our child and expecting too much, and stop comparing. All of them told us W.A.I.T
Most people say there are children who are late bloomers. There are those who suddenly blossom at the magical age of 4 or 5. These are those whose parents are enthusiastic to share their stories, that it’ll all get better. Please. Don’t worry. W.A.I.T
But it doesn’t help at all. It makes it worse. I learnt that the sooner we parents get the answers, the sooner our child gets the help she needs.
You know, waiting is easy. It doesn’t require any monetary investment, it doesn’t involve my emotions. Waiting is optimistic. Waiting is just that. Waiting. You don’t have to sit a test with your child, watch him being scrutinised by the specialist. You don’t have to cringe in your seat when your child tries again and again at a simple mundane task. You don’t have to blink back tears when the therapist explains what’s wrong. And, you can go on life with no change if you just W.A.I.T
Some are asking, but why did the PD/Childcare educators say W.A.I.T ?
My all time favourite book that I’m referring to now Debbie Feit’s The Parent’s Guide to Speech And Language Problems has the answers:
They’re not trained to identify speech & language & learning disorders
Mild Delays are difficult to detect
They don’t conduct screenings
They don’t know where to refer you
They’re afraid of making you anxious
They already think you’re overly anxious
Don’t wait. Please don’t.
If you ask, WHEN is the right time to go seek help? Trust your gut feel. If you think something is wrong, go and see a therapist. Don’t give excuses like, “maybe after Christmas, he’ll be better”, “he’s just the not so active type”, “he’s like grandma, the quiet type” etc etc etc.
The author says this—to all parents who do not know if they should bring their kids for any assessment or therapy:
The difficulty lies in distinguishing between the kids who are delayed and the kids who have a disorder…The reality is, with nearly 3-6 million children under the age of eighteen with speech and language disorders in the United States…So if you suspect a delay or a disorder, it’s critical to have a qualified speech therapist make a diagnosis and suggest treatment if appropriate. Even if your child has only a simple delay, a good therapist will send you home with plenty of ideas on how to jump-start or improve your child’s communication.
I hope this helps. Please know that I am not advocating that all children need therapy. I’m just big on early intervention. It is something that I regret because I could have started earlier on Mei Mei but didn’t…and I can only do catch up now, and can’t turn back the clock.
This is a first on a series I’ve started – Therapy 101, to document Nadine’s developmental struggles and victories, and to journal my own learning experiences as she goes through hers.