Monday, October 17, 2011

Sorry, doctor. You're wrong.

I was doing some shopping at my local vitamin and supplement store when a lady looking at children’s vitamins noticed me quickly placing some products in my basket. She watched me for a minute and then asked if I could recommend some vitamins for her son. I looked over and saw a young boy sprawled out flat on his belly quietly playing with a car a couple feet away from his mom. I asked the mom some specific questions to try to learn about her situation so that maybe I could provide some guidance.

I learned that her 4-year old son was not eating. The mom was grasping at straws to get some sort of nutrition into his body. When he chose to eat, his diet was extremely limited – full of wheat and dairy. Sound familiar? He was also not communicating verbally with much success. The alarm bells were very loud in my head as she shared more with me. While she was talking, I glanced at him occasionally and watched him play with his car on the floor. He was passively listening, only trying to speak or use crude sign language when prompted by his mom. He wouldn’t communicate directly with me, instead using his mom as a translator for his very special hybridized language of Spanish, sign, and English.  
I began to share a bit about my boys and their journey since we learned about autism and their food allergies. The lights seemed to be turning on in her head. She knew there was something going on with her son. It was very obvious to me also, and I had just met him.

This mom had done everything right. She was seeking high-quality supplements to try to help her son avoid vitamin deficiencies from his lack of food intake. She told me his hearing was fine, but he wasn’t picking up speech as he should at the age of 4. Even his own father has great difficulty understanding him.
She told me that she had taken her son to the doctor to discuss her concerns about his lack of speech development and his daily refusals to eat. The doctor told her to not worry about the food thing and that he would talk eventually. His advice was to just give it some more time.  

OMFG! In my head I am going freaking nuts when I hear her say those words. I’m concocting an imaginary plan to go visit this excuse for a doctor and scream obscenities at him.
Give him some more time? He’s four! Obviously something is wrong. Hellloooo! So, the mom should just wait until he enters kindergarten and the teacher has a heart attack when she realizes how delayed this child is? That would be a huge disservice to the child, his family, and his future teachers.

I felt awful for this mom. I was her not that long ago. I had blind faith in our doctors. I heard those same words when I brought my son's delays to his attention. Oh, just give him some time. Boys are slower to develop speech. It will be okay. 

Don't forget...doctors are always right! Especially about cigarettes!

NO! No, it’s not okay! He doesn’t need more time! He needs help! NOW! The wait and see attitude infuriates me to no end. And, now that I have the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, I can almost taste my fury when I hear those same words again.    
Unfortunately, I listened to our doctor longer than I should have and I lost precious time that I will never get back. I finally figured out that I was getting nowhere fast and that I needed to take control of our situation. And I did. And my boys are better for it. I shudder to think where we would be if I had continued to wait per the doctor’s recommendation. It makes me cringe just thinking about it.

I spoke with the mom about food allergies. I also told her about free developmental assessments available in her school district. She was floored that such a service exists. I didn’t specifically tell her to pursue an autism diagnosis for her son, but I mentioned how my boys did many similar things at the same age. And, I used the word autism a lot. I feel very confident that this mom will call the school district to get an assessment for her son. I’m about 99.9% sure that they will find areas of delay and that he will qualify for developmental preschool. I have no doubt. A proper diagnosis will hopefully come in time, but the first priority is getting this kid assessed and qualified for a specialized education.

I gave her my card and asked her to keep in touch with me. I am very interested to see the outcome for this precious boy. I can only hope and pray that he gets the help he needs and deserves. Lord knows his doctor didn’t help him one bit with his ignorant remark. Jerk. Thank God this mom followed her instinct. 
Despite my hurry that day, I am so glad that I chose to take those few minutes to talk with that mom. I can only hope that a seed was planted and that positive changes are on the horizon for her son.  
Moms, you have a wonderful gift of intuition. You know your child. Don’t accept the garbage you are fed if there is any shred of doubt in your heart. Do what you do best and seek the answers for your child. You, like all of us mother warriors, are smarter than your doctor when it comes to your child. Trust yourself.

I’m curious to know how many of you had a similar experience with your child’s doctor. Did they give you the crappy line about waiting, too?

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