Denial can be a beautiful thing. You can choose to believe what you want to believe. But when the something you believe isn’t true, there is always going to be that undercurrent, those unsettling feelings, that quiet voice in your mind that whispers the truth. In my experience, the whispers tend to get louder and can turn into screams. And then you are forced to confront the truth…the thing that you have known all along.
What am I talking about? I am talking about this thing that most parents of special needs kids do at one time or another. We tell ourselves that our child just needs more time to catch up or that the obvious differences between our child and their peers are not a good indicator of where our child is at because we don’t want to face the truth. Facing the truth is painful. Admitting that there is a problem is hard.
As parents, we want our kids’ lives to be the best they can be, for their futures to be limitless. Acknowledging that there will be struggle and hardship up ahead, more so than just for the average person is not something that is easy to do.
I have walked this road twice before. When we first admitted to ourselves that it was time to have Miss Optimism assessed for what we knew was a neurodevelopmental disorder, it was very hard to take those initial steps. Then, hearing her diagnosis (even though it was EXACTLY what we knew it would be) caused grieving. We grieved for the life we would have wished for her. We grieved knowing of the additional struggles she would face. We even grieved for what we would lose.
When we first realized that Einstein had Aspergers, we grieved again. One thing that made his diagnosis easier is that that time, we didn’t have to wrestled with whether or not we wanted him assessed and “labelled”, something we had wrestled with for hours in regards to Miss Optimism. We had been through that part once before and knew that we wanted to follow through with the assessments. But admitting that our child would possibly be ridiculed and made to feel different just broke my heart as a mother.
You would think that by the third time, I would just be able to move forward and get on with things, but I have had the hardest time this time. I went through a period of “why me?”. I questioned whether God knew what He was doing when He placed another special needs child with us. Did He not know that this would be more than I could handle?! And then that questioning led to some peace. I know that He knows that I can handle this. I am not yet in a place where I believe it yet, but I know that I am just going to have to trust in Him for now. And for now, that is enough.
So we stand here again. I spent a long time on that lonely road of denial. I thought that surely having two special needs kiddos meant that I could not have another! Surely I was entitled to special consideration! It was excruciatingly painful to have to admit that it was not only possible that we had three special needs kids, but it was fact.
It took courage and a lot of prayer for me to first pick up the phone and start phoning around about getting assessments done for Dancing Queen. We had the first assessment on Monday. The result? Severe speech delay in seven of the eight categories they tested and possible auditory problems. One diagnosis down, two or three more to go. We suspect that we know what all the results will be. We suspect we know the labels that will be written about her on paper, though we know from experience now that those labels need not define her.
And even though this first diagnosis of a severe speech delay is a small one, I did cry to see it in black and white. I will probably shed a few tears when our next suspicions are confirmed as well. I’d like to say that because I’ve walked this road two other times, that I know that things will get better, but I’m still in that painful stage. I think about the appointments that are in the near future: speech therapy for her and for Granola Girl (did I forget to mention that Granola Girl was diagnosed with a moderate speech delay on Monday?!) once or twice a week each, one to two appointments a week for Miss Optimism’s lungs, one to two therapy appointments a week for Dancing Queen, further assessments, and the usual dental, doctor, etc. for all the kids and it just feels too overwhelming.
Right now, I’m in a bit of a feeling-sorry-for-myself phase. I wish that I could stay in bed, curled up under the covers all day and have a good cry, but I have a daughter who is struggling to breathe and another who is confronting past trauma and severely delayed and a son working on healthy attachment and another going through some teenage issues and three more kids who need me too in their own ways and so I get up every morning and I put one foot in front of the other and remind myself to be thankful for each one of them…and I am.