There is Nothing Wrong with My Children … Right?

by MamaBSquared

The conversations go like this:

“How old are they?” Two.

“And they are not talking?” No.

Friends: “They’re fine.”

Family: “Oh, they’re just being boys.

Strangers: “That’s common in twins.”

Pediatric nurse at their 2 year check up: “I suggest you get their hearing checked and call early intervention services.”

Wait, what?

My boys don’t talk. They intone, gesture, and communicate in manners other than speech. As a stay-at-home mother, I didn’t find this to be a problem. They are joyful, inquisitive, expressive, and grateful. I thought that we communicated well. I interpreted their lack of speech as a choice, not uncommon in twins. When the nurse suggested that I reach out to early intervention services, I was beyond wary. I was insulted, alarmed, and defiant.

There is nothing wrong with my children.

I am still processing my feelings. Without recounting the litany of cuss words that ran through my head, I will report that I questioned the authority of the pediatrician to be so critical of my children’s development without knowing their profile or story. She literally used one indicator and made a recommendation. Was it her bias speaking? Or was she following a checklist? I was quick to protect them from the milestone watch and developmental scrutiny that I feel derails normal, varied development in children. But the damage was done. My kids were not on “schedule” and I knew I could do one of two things – hope or help.

There is nothing wrong with my children.

As parents, my partner and I have done what we are supposed to do in this situation, and that is try to help our children progress. We had them evaluated by child early intervention services and it was determined that they have sensory integration issues. Not only are they not meeting the speech milestones, but they had other developmental delays as well. Therapy was available if we were interested. It would even be partially subsidized if we allowed for data collection.

My fears went to battle. I worried that the data collected on my boys would be used to create programs to pathologize black boys in early childhood. I worried that their highly developed emotions and willfulness would read as aggression, even though they are all of two years old. That their joie-de-vivre and energy would come across as imbalanced; when in fact they are simply secure, self-possessed, territorial, non-verbal toddlers. I worried that letting occupational therapists into my home would cause them detriment, such that I could not predict the outcome or protect them.

We decided to pursue the therapy and take the risks because I feared doing nothing.

What if they really need help?

I still believe that “everything will catch up.” But, I am not the only decision maker in the situation, and certainly not the greatest stakeholder. The most important people in this situation are my kids. Not the elders in my family that, like me, think that an industry has been made out of alarming parents. (We’re still right on that in some respects.) Not the friends and family that think that “they are just boys,” “will grow out of it,” and “are acting like twins.” Regardless of the cause, they need help and their well-being is paramount.

Everything has gone well thus far. The occupational therapists are positive about their progress. They have also discussed all of my concerns with candor, citing data they have reviewed and their own experience. My friends in early childhood education have assured me that it’s the best thing we could have done. It feels like a good decision was made.

I have been a friend to many parents during their journeys with their children. This battle between hope and help is constant. Whenever we tackle a ‘difference’ in our child’s performance, behavior, or health, we have to carefully measure the intentions of those involved. As a parent of color in a mixed ethnicity environment, I cannot ignore history. At this very moment, knowing that the boys’ therapy has helped them learn and develop, I STILL cannot shake the fear that they might feel like less – that they sense that someone has found fault in them and that that angst will be the foundation of an emerging “otherness.” It’s a stretch, I know, but I wrestle with the guilt of even that possibility. Every day I pray that the help we have sought will be effective, edifying, and not damaging in any way. It has to be better to seek help than to rely on hope.

There is nothing wrong with my children.

Right?

MamaBSquare is an old head mother of twin boys residing in the Philly metropolitan area.

4 thoughts on “There is Nothing Wrong with My Children … Right?

  1. I feel your pain and confusion. When my son was little(r), they told me he needed occupational therapy, and I put them off. I got conflicting advice, of course — the teachers saying one thing while the doctor is saying another — and so I was so confused. But I decided to just watch it.

    Now that he’s almost nine, I do see things I could have done when he was younger to make his life a little easier today. He still holds his body funny, and has some sensory processing issues, especially with food. But he’s also just a funny, quirky little guy, and I love that about him.

    I feel we are forced so often when our children are young to make sure they are perfect, when we are all so imperfect, and that’s what makes us…us. On the other hand, the skepticism might make us not take critical steps when we need to.

    It’s such a mess. But I believe God gives us the children we need and God gives them the parents they need. There is nothing wrong with your children, and they — and you — will be alright.

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  2. Thank you Dr. Mama Esq.! In this moment, like many mothers, I am overwhelmed by the bombardment of information. I am moving in skepticism, and to some degree under duress as I attempt to comfort my children in a time of transition. Thank you for the encouragement!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is nothing wrong with your children! Like you, my then 2 year old decided that she could get her point across without talking and I was worried that there was something wrong with her. She was my 2nd child and her older brother had done everything early so I was more than a bit concerned. Thankfully our pediatrician was an older Black gentleman, Dr. Booker T. Poe. He still wears Stacy Adams wingtips and has his home phone number in the phone book. That’s just the kind of doctor he was groomed to be.

    Like you, I had heard all the questions, concerns and judgment. It starts to eat at you…what if there is something going on and I don’t know?!

    Thankfully, a girlfriend referred me to Dr. Poe. He examined my roly poly happy baby and said…She doesn’t talk because she doesn’t have to! She raises an eyebrow you respond, moves a finger and her brother is there. Why should she waste energy with talking? He laughed and gave her a hug, patted my shoulder. As he walked out he made one last comment…One day you’ll be wishing for this quiet.

    Of course he was 100% correct! She’s 14 now and there are days when I remember Dr. Poe’s warning.

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  4. Andrea – Thank you for your comment on my father Dr. Poe. I am with him this weekend, and I just saw this – and read it to him. He enjoyed it. He remembers your daughter and that experience well. He was happy to hear that she is doing well. Be blessed. Brian Poe

    Like

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