Special Needs Parents, Trust Your Instincts

Saturday, January 4, 2020

It seems like such a simple statement, right? "Trust your instincts". I mean, of course we trust our instincts! We get a bad feeling about something, and we decide not to do it. It's so silly to think we wouldn't do that.

Two children inside a purple wagon stroller. The child on the left is a curly-haired girl with a pink shirt on, smiling at the camera. The child on the right is a curly-haired boy, looking down.

But the thing is.. we don't. We have been trained to not trust those instincts, especially when it comes to our children. To parenting. I can't say exactly where we have learned this, as I don't think it is one specific entity. I think it's many entities. I think it's the constant disapproving remark or look, here and there, from the moment Mom becomes pregnant.

I think it is commercialism, parenting groups, disapproving family members, doctors.. I think we are trained, very well, to not trust ourselves.

Unfortunately, we tend to let these things seep into our brains and make us question ourselves and, therefore, not trust our instincts! But how awful that is when it really matters.

A blonde-haired girl in a maroon dress holding a tan curly-haired boy.Your instincts with your child matter.

Let me say right now, I know Autism. I know it well. I see the little "signs" and I see them easily. When my youngest was 10 months old, I posted a photo of her doing this little twirl with her fingers, and made the comment about "my little aspie baby" (Aspie being short for Asperger's, which is no longer a separate diagnosis on the DSM-5, but is just all ASD now), and a family member made a snarky comment about how I couldn't possibly know she was on the spectrum. She told me that she was way too young and I shouldn't be trying to label my child like that.

I knew she was on the spectrum. There was never a question about it. I saw all the signs and as she got older, they became even more obvious. What's that saying... If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and so on? Yeah. That's my world and noticing Autism. Anyway...

I knew this about her, and raised her as a child on the spectrum. Observing and respecting her needs, and making the accommodations I must. At her 2 year check up, the doctor's office had me fill out the M-CHAT, which is typical for that age. I knew she would score as being on the spectrum.. and she did. HOWEVER, the doctor said "Well, let's just wait and see if she grows out of it".

"Seriously? Grow out of Autism?", was my thought. I requested we move forward with actually getting her evaluated. They didn't want to. I let it go for a while (my mistake), and we went on about life.

A little blonde-haired girl sitting in a purple wagon stroller, with a face mask on that has Disney Princesses on it, and wearing blue headphones.One does not just "grow out of" Autism...

When I finally did actively seek getting her diagnosed, I was asked if a teacher or someone else had noticed things in my daughter, rather than just taking my concern as something relevant. Because, obviously, a mother noticing delays in her child just isn't a thing, right?

My youngest wasn't diagnosed until she was just past 4 years old. It took me about a year and a half to finally get people to listen, give me a referral, find a place, get an appointment, and get the diagnosis. I knew my daughter was on the spectrum and absolutely did trust my instincts regarding it, but I didn't push for it, at first (again, my mistake). Then when I did, it took a year and a half to get her diagnosis!

You know your child better than anyone. I knew my daughter was on the spectrum as a young infant. Maybe you don't notice that early, but you do notice things. It's OK to question!

Whether your child has a speech delay or you are noticing they're not hitting developmental milestones or are having "tantrums" more than the "average" child... It's OK to question and request evaluations. There's nothing wrong with getting an evaluation. And if you disagree with the evaluation, get another! 

No one knows your child as well as you do.

As a Special Needs Parent, or even a potential one, you have many tasks ahead of you.. Sometimes that first step is just saying "You know, this seems off.. let me get it checked out". 

It's bizarre to me how frequently people will jump up and rush to urgent care when their child has a slight fever (when fevers alone are not necessarily harmful), but are so quick to dismiss the red flags in the mental/personality/developmental categories! And I wholeheartedly believe it's because we have been trained, so thoroughly, to make big deals out of things that can be treated with drugs, and to ignore the rest (call me a conspiracy theorist *shrug*). To not trust our instincts. 

Two little girls standing in front of Hollywood Studios, the one on the left wearing a teal colored dress and the one on the right wearing a pink and white dress.

If you notice something "off" in your child, no matter what it is, question it. Go with it. Seek answers. YOU alone are their advocate. No one else is going to fight for your child like you will, so do it. Put up the fight. Trust your instincts and QUESTION, because it is better to question and find out you're wrong, than to not question and your child get no help at all.

Trusting our instincts, as parents, is essential just as a general statement. But it is especially important, I think, as a Special Needs Parent. The Neurodiverse have and will always be dismissed, in one way or another. Trust your instincts and show your child that you are not one to dismiss and they are not people who deserve to be dismissed.

What is something that you wish you had trusted your instincts on sooner? Share in the comments!

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