Therapy 101- Going public
Many have asked me about Nadine—how did I know that she was delayed in her development, what did I do, and what’s next. The answers are all found here. However, we ventured to a new milestone last week!
You see, Nadine has been going for private Speech Therapy and Physiotherapy. It’s not cheap, but it was the quickest way to start the early intervention and various sessions to help her. However, for the longest time, I’ve been wanting to bring her to get a full diagnostic assessment done by a medical doctor.
Her current assessment is by the Speech Therapist. There’s nothing wrong with that, except I figured since I’m at it, I should go to a Developmental Paediatrician to get an assessment too. However, getting such assessments is expensive. A full diagnostic test can go up to S$1,400.
Thus, we have been delaying this for the longest of time. Of course a cheaper alternative is to go KK Hospital or NUH. But I hear of long waiting times, and different doctors for each visit, and how going to a government centre meant information on the child would be shared with the schools, and may potentially cause a stigma.
But, not doing anything about it is worse!
After talking to the husband and some very good friends, we concluded we should just go for the KK Hospital option, WHILE maintaining her private therapy sessions. We figured, there’s clearly a problem with Nadine’s development, there’s no further stigma if the school knows about it. In fact, I WANT THEM TO KNOW about it, so that she is given grace or extra time for work if necessary.
So we took our first step: VISIT THE POLYCLINIC
After a long wait (1 hour to register, another half hour to see the nurse in charge, and another half hour to see the doctor), we received the referral letter to KK Hospital’s Department of Child Development.
The appointment was scheduled 25 days later, and we were excited. We were prepared for long waits, so when the appointment date came.
This was what happened:
Registration (2 min)
Wait (5 min)
Met the nurse to answer a comprehensive set of questions on what’s wrong, why we are there, and what we observed (15-20 min)
Wait (10 min)
Met the Psychologist to answer another series of similar questions on what’s wrong, why we are there, and what we observed (30 min)
Wait (15 min)
Met the Doctor who asked yes another series of questions, but more pointed ones focusing on developmental issues. Did a mini medical examination on Nadine as well.
Referred to a Child Developmental specialist, earliest appointment is in 6 weeks.
I’m ok with the waiting, and the long queue for appointments. I did a post on this not to complain but to make an interesting observation about visiting a doctor about Child Development.
The Parent takes on a totally different role from normal. Gone are the “Look at my child, He can do all these, and all that, and he can say all these and all that….”
At a Child Development clinic, the parent has to be somewhat a symbol of negativity. “My child can’t do this, my child can’t say that…” One big reason is because we only have one shot at convincing the doctor that something is wrong. As Murphy says, the child does not show his inadequacies in that one session. Close to 90% of what the doctor can initially diagnose is based on the parent’s description. It really depends on what examples you remember to bring up, what illustration you can give, what little actions or behaviour that caught your attention.
Answering the same set of questions that day, plus me blogging about Nadine, and me talking about it to friends, made me very comfortable discussing Nadine’s development. I’ve no issues explaining what she cannot do, or what she struggles with. I’ve made enough observations to know what her peers can do and cannot do, and I think I have been fair in making constructive comparisons. (I’m no Tiger Mama!)
If the description is positive sounding, the doctor can easily go, nothing wrong, come back 6 months later and assure the parent that, give the child some time, he will catch up with his peers after a while.
However, this is not a Flu or Cold that the child has. We can’t turn back time to do therapy. The window for intervention is just so small: Up to age 7. I cannot afford to waste any time just because I only choose to see the good in the child. Bluntly put, I rather she has an overdose on therapy then miss the window and play catch-up forever.
Now that we are on the way for a full assessment on Nadine. The doctor said she has to have an assessment done individually by the Speech Therapist, Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist. I’m happy and comforted that I am more in the know of what’s wrong. We are continuing with the private sessions. Eventually more decisions need to be made on what help she needs. Until then, we are waiting for the nurse to call. You see, the appointment book is too full, they are trying to slot her in! The waiting game continues…
This is part of 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.
Thank you for your honesty. My 14.5 month old really only has one word and it has me nervous. I'm definitely brining it up at her 15 month check up in a couple weeks.
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jia you….you are a great mom. Presevere and with God…all things are possible . Amen! TPL
My son has autism and it can be pretty hard when you first find out. But we have been working our butts off and he is almost fully recovered now.
I think it's not easy as a mother to say, "my child needs help," so I think you've really taken a great leap by seeking the opinion and help of medical professionals.
If you may need to visit the polyclinic again, it's always a good idea to skip Mondays/Fridays/Saturdays (if u can help it), or go very early on these days. For the rest of the week, the waiting time is quite okay as long as you go in the morning. 🙂
The downside is that the referred appointments for the specialists take very long! Sometimes the "earliest" appointment they may have is 3 months later! You can call every now and then, as they sometimes free up slots so you get to see the specialist earlier.
Meanwhile, stay tough and stay loving! 🙂
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Dear JiaHui, thank you for honestly sharing.
I still vividly remember little Nadine when she was born, almost 7 years ago.
I worked and interacted with 2 DD children in School, and that is only a few times each week. It (really)takes patience and special care, to listen to what they are trying to express. And they have the sweetest greetings for me.
You are a great woman and mum, I hope and pray that your journey ahead will be filled with extra grace, this is what I read, mediate on and confess, that God gently leads those that have young. (Isa 40:11)
I had no idea how important it was to jump in right away during that window of time. I'm glad you've become comfortable talking about it because that's in her best interests for you to be that way!
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I love your honesty. Also, here's hoping you won't have so much waiting in your future!
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Thank you for sharing your story. The evaluation process is so stressful for parents. I was shocked to find out that one of the best Autism centers here makes you schedule three different appointments (hundreds of dollars each) before they would even schedule an evaluation – at least one of those was just about paperwork… yes, they made you pay hundreds of dollars just to come in and fill out paperwork. As a parent, all you want is for your child to get whatever help they need. Good luck to you – I look forward to reading more about Nadine's journey.
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Hi, would you mind to share with me the contact for Nadine’s private speech therapist? Many thanks.
It took YEARS to get my Emma help. It was late in the game but so worth it. She didn't have an IEP until the end of 4th grade. She's in 6th now and is making steady process but I can't help but wonder what the outcome would have been if the school she was attending would have listened to us.
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Talking about it and sharing is wonderful for those who don't know.