Jack and Me and Doctors

I want to begin training for October’s half marathon, but I’m forcing myself to wait until I’ve been to the neurological clinic about my broken back.  That appointment is this Thursday.  Also this Thursday, we take Jack for his full evaluation for speech and language therapy.  Both are appointments that we have waited literally months for.

And of course, they happen at virtually the same time.

Mine is just a bit before Jack’s, so I plan on showing up a full 45 minutes early, having everything filled out and prepped and set.  It’s an early morning appointment, which means they likely won’t be running behind.  And since my back is doing pretty well, aside from a constant dull ache, I don’t think it will take long.  I hope it doesn’t take long.  Because I really need to be there and be involved in Jack’s therapy, from day one.  I firmly believe the greatest determinant of his success with speech (and everything it affects, which is pretty much everything) will be his father’s and my advocacy on his behalf.  I’m not going to guiltily tear my hair and wring my hands over potentially  missing some of his appointment because of my own hard-to-get Spine Center appointment . . . but I will be watching the clock, and breaking some speed limits to get from one to the other.

We think that Jack may have some sensory processing issues.  None of his issues are huge – my guess is that they are all borderline, at best.  He behaves well, he can communicate with people, and he has this magical ability to get along with just about anybody.  His teachers have told us that he is a very good influence on some of the less socially developed children in his class.  In other words, he’s best friends with the weird kids, and he serves as the bridge between them and the cool kids.  Sounds silly to talk that way in preschool, but those divisions are already there, and I love that Jack is playing the role he plays.  Everybody likes Jack, and he likes everybody, and I wouldn’t trade that aspect of his personality for anything.

But he talks like kids a year younger than him.  He doesn’t pronounce things well.  More importantly, he cannot answer questions like other kids his age.  He doesn’t seem to process information at the rate that kids his age can do.  I don’t mean he’s dumb, but I do mean he’s slow to pick up new information.  What other kids can pick up in an hour, Jack picks up after a week of intense training.  The biggest problem in my mind, though, is the burgeoning list of things that scare the living daylights out of him.  Just yesterday I took him out shopping to pick up a few clothes for him and Liam, and he refused to go into a store.  The Children’s Place.  A plain old regular store – it just had an open, industrial kind of ceiling instead of a drop ceiling or smooth ceiling.  It wasn’t crowded, the music it played was soft, the lighting was normal, there weren’t scary mannequins around – but he screamed as if he was being murdered when I tried to drag him in there, because the ceiling was scary.  (I finally managed to do it by holding him in my arms the entire time.  Dude is heavy.  Perhaps this is why my back still aches!)

His fear isn’t normal hesitation – it’s crazy, wild, out of control terror, and it’s not awesome.  I think he hears or sees or feels more intensely than average.  Coupled with his wild and growing imagination, this leads to a world full of nightmares.  If this is how he is, that’s ok – the Professor and I just need to get him evaluated, and then have some professionals tell us how to help him cope.  I feel like we can easily provide some coping strategies for him, and teach him how to live in the world that he sees and hears and touches, but I need to know what those strategies are.  Because we’ve tried “just carry him towards what he fears and hold him there to show him it’s not going to hurt him,” and we’ve tried “humor him and let him come to it himself on his own terms,” and we’ve tried “sing songs and distract and pretend it’s all ok,” and we’ve tried “talk about his feelings outside of sight of the stimuli,” and we’ve tried dozens of other things, and none of them are helping him cope with his fears.  (We’ve also tried “ask him lots of questions as practice” and “carefully enunciate words for him” and bunches of other games for his speech development, also to no avail.)

Thursday will tell us a little more about what’s going on, and how we can help get Jack on track so that he’s not struggling with this stuff when he starts actual school.  Early intervention is the best intervention.  Parental advocacy is the best advocacy.  Thanks to government funding, which I hope I hope I hope doesn’t get cut, it’s free for people in our income bracket, thank heavens.

So.  Anyway.  Thursday I’ll know if my back is better, and I’ll know how to make Jack’s life better.  I’ll also turn 33.  I’d rather, you know, chill on a beach in the Virgin Islands with a book for my birthday, but I suppose the gift of a couple of hard-to-get appointments with hard-to-see doctors is a nice second place.

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5 Responses to Jack and Me and Doctors

  1. CCL says:

    Ugh – sorry you’re juggling a lot — but then, when are you not?
    Do you read Amalah.com? Her eldest kid has some interesting processing issues (worse than Jack) that you may want to read about. It’s nice to know other people are going through it too.
    Please keep us posted on Jack’s and your diagnoses. I’m anxious to hear how two of my favorite people are doing. Sending hugs (gentle, non back-hurting ones).

  2. Hoping both appointments go well. I absolutely agree with you on early intervention and imagine it’ll make Jack so much less frustrated when he’s communicating, too. Hugs to you all.

    I have been there with the screaming kid. Pea is sound/visually sensitive (as am I) and gets really easily overwhelmed. (As an adult, I still get freaked out if — god forbid — I have to go into a club or a casino. They make me want to scream or throw up or both.) At three, that meant screaming and refusing to go places and sometimes we’d pay to go somewhere then turn around and leave. (Arg.) Now it’s a lot better.

  3. Carrie says:

    Proud of you for being on top of everything! I’ve seen some people watch their child deal with issues and just not do anything, and that’s a hard thing to witness. On the other hand, my nephew, Jake, has been in speech therapy for at least a couple of years now. (He’ll be 5 in October.) He still speaks Jakenese, as my dad calls it, but he speaks really fluent Jakenese. His vocab, grammar, and complexity of ideas are all where they should be now, if not ahead of the game. I don’t know why his various speech impediments haven’t improved at the same rate as the cognitive side of things, but it seems to me that if you had to choose, you’d take the cognitive improvement and be okay with the speech impediments. In any case, it’s a good feeling to know everything possible is being done to set him up for success, and I have no doubt he’ll get there.

  4. RG says:

    :):) Smiles all ’round to my team of cheerleaders! @CCL, I actually do read Amalah, which is where I got the idea that Jack has some sensory processing issues. Although Amy’s son Noah has bigger issues (with touching, for example – Jack has no problems with his sense of touch, and he can sit in a chair or wear clothes without any issues), there are some similarities, and her documentation of her advocacy for Noah has helped me get a grip on what I need to do. This is the internet and the blogworld at its best.

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