Validation Feels Good!

Adventure Man Lex in Action
I don’t need to be right all the time. I’m pretty confident in my knowledge on the subjects I’m interested in, but I don’t claim to know everything, and love nothing more than someone showing me another way of looking at things. I’ve completely reversed many opinions in my life, and that makes me happy. However, in regards to my son Lex, I definitely did not want to be wrong. I wanted to be right right right. I wanted validation that he was speech delayed because he had hearing issues from birth, his erratic behaviour was linked to that, and as long as he had enough time, patience and love, then I could very happily report to the world, I was right.

Well guess what - I was RIGHT!!!

We met his teachers recently - for the first month catch up and assessment since starting at his new school - and as I’ve always known, Lex is speech delayed but catching up rapidly. There is nothing to diagnose, he’s just struggling with receptive language and his expressive language is behind as well. So all those times when I’ve told him to stop doing something, only to get a blank look and then he’s done it anyway – well he didn’t bloody understand what I was asking him!

Before he started at his speech therapy focused school, Lex was already showing great progress. I mentioned in an earlier blog that one of the symptoms of speech delayed kids is they don’t feel the need to please people – which is actually really challenging for parents. At the beginning of this year, Lex was already changing and he started becoming desperate to please – especially me. It was a massive relief to see that change, because when your kid appears not to care, it’s really disconcerting. However, it is also this quality that leads many to believe a child has aspergers or something similar.

Today Lex is talking, talking, talking - in fact, since starting at his new school, he doesn’t shut up! He’s getting his sentence structure together, really explaining what he wants clearly, and while his enunciation and understanding still needs work, it’s finally happening - hooray. He’s also much more social with other kids, often leading the charge in group activities, he’s putting himself out there with strangers, and just generally becoming the confident little man we always knew he was capable of being. Can you tell I’m relieved?

The new school environment is a major contributor to his development. Before he was ignored, misunderstood or put in the “naughty” category. Now he has four teachers who are professionally trained to work with and understand kids like Lex. They never ignore him, they understand when his behaviour is signalling a level of frustration so take the time to acknowledge his need, and they get down on their knees and really listen to him. He’s also got two male teachers and I think that makes a HUGE difference as well. As such, Lex is now ten men and happy as a pig in shit to go to school. For the first time in his life, his home life and school life are consistent with all the adults working overtime to understand and love him. It’s really amazing to watch his growth and it’s such a massive relief for us. His teachers also adore him, and that is a rare treat as well. I can only remember one teacher who loved him in Oz – that was Amanda.

When Lex first started at his new school, they said it typically takes 6-12 months for kids to get on track. In our meeting, they said he needs a further three months of intense therapy and then he can start being integrated into their mainstream school. From there, we can look at getting both boys into a bigger mainstream school (with on-going speech therapy), and we hope we will be done with the bollocks we’ve endured.

Once again, to the other parents out there, I want to say don’t let them put a label on your kid if your heart says it’s wrong. I know how much pressure you can face – believe me - but if you know deep down, keep fighting for your kids, even when it takes so many options away from you. Our kids need us Mums and Dads to back them all the way – especially kids like Lex. If we had followed the advice we were given, Lex would be in a very different place right now, a place that would alter his future potential drastically and close off many options for him. I was never going to let that happen and I’m often amazed at how much I’ve had to fight for my son through this, but also how hard it’s been to find him a place in this world. For most of this battle I’ve only had two options, and only recently did we find a third. To say it’s been hard is an understatement, but it’s also been very heart breaking as well.

I appreciate that there are some parents not willing to recognise the challenges their kids are facing – it’s a VERY difficult thing to come to terms with. I also recognise that many parents do face up to the harsh reality that their children have special needs. But there’s another type of family in this mash up, and that’s families like ours, who have a kid struggling to progress and instead of getting understanding and support, we’re constantly facing HUGE pressure to head in a direction we know is wrong for our child. Many times it’s because our kids are too hard and everyone just gives up on them. There’s nothing harder than hearing those words – always told in a politically correct way of course – because you need people who are capable to help you do everything they can to help your child be all they can be. That’s what education should be about, yes? I am very disheartened by many of the early years educators I’ve dealt with, I must say.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely believe some kids need the extra attention and it’s great most countries have systems in place to help – but even with help it’s still an incredibly hard road for parents facing these challenges every day. But it’s not the solution for every child, and some solutions forced on parents are going to negatively impact the child – as would’ve been the case if we allowed Lex to head into most of the special needs programs on offer. It just wasn’t right for him.  How can it be? Everyone is different right? There are a multitude of reasons why kids struggle, and putting them in a box (with pre-set action plans) is not necessarily the best way forward. I really hope the constant need to label kids outside the accepted “norm” stops soon and a little more balance comes back in regards to helping kids be all they can be, because surely that’s what it’s all about – helping kids find their path to happiness and success?

It is definitely a trend I find deeply disconcerting!

Anyways, just wanted to share the good news, because we’re almost there and super proud of our little lad.

Yours, without the bollocks
Andrea
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