Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hard Lessons.

This year has been a particularly difficult one for our family.

At the beginning of the school year I had what I thought was the perfect plan for the year which I had loving laboured over for many months! I have always been a devote of creating timetables, and schedules, many of which were rarely used, but I had spent so much time on this one, that I was sure it would be different. Our youngest Roo, was three and a half, and I reasoned that things would start to improve as he was older and because I was sure that his language would begin to blossom. We had none the less decided to take him to a paediatrician, just to be sure that his lack of language was simply that, a language delay rather than autism. Before the visit I occasionally wondered how I would react if the paediatrician thought that he did have ASD (autism spectrum disorder) or some other nameless problem. As I was fairly confident that this wouldn't be the case, I figured that I would worry about that if it happened.

The visit did not go well. The Doctor thought Roo was not simply slow to develop language. She noted his non-functional play, which I was shocked to realise, I had failed to even notice. Roo displayed his normal fascination with light switches and pushing buttons. This of course had slightly bothered me, but as it wasn't obsessive I had wasn't too worried. The Doctor talked about her concerns that he might have ASD, but that she would conduct a more through screening in 6 months. She believed that Roo was showing signs of Global Development Delay. I left her rooms feeling numb.

Roo and I went to a nearby fast food outlet for a play, and a much needed coffee for me. Unable to hold in the tears any longer, I sat inside a piece of the play equipment and sobbed. When Koala was diagnosed with Aspergers, it was a relief to finally be able to put a name to that which we knew, made our son different. But this came right out of left field. As I knew a little more than the average Joe about autism, I reasoned that Roo couldn't be on the spectrum because he had great eye contact; he didn't have meltdowns; he displayed no glaring sensory issues and so on. So I reasoned that if was more than likely not ASD, it must just be a speech delay.

So my carefully crafted plans began to slide as I started to come to terms with the possibility of having a second child with special needs. I already knew that Roo's lack of language was an issue, I just hadn't realised how much of a challenge it was going to be. I slowing began to understand that he wasn't just going to start talking in sentences one morning! As I dealt with speech therapy, early intervention and so forth, I slowly began to strip our home education plans down to the bare essentials.

I shamefully began to realise that in planning what I thought was the perfect academic year, I hadn't left much room for God. I was leaning to heavily on what I wanted without stopping to think that perhaps God had other plans. I had foolishly thought that this year would be wonderful as I had dealt with Koala's diagnoses, successfully brought him home from school, and now I was ready to settle into an uneventful year, following my beautiful schedule complete with Latin, French, Shakespeare and so on! I felt like the Lord was gently tapping me on the shoulder saying "There's no such thing as a perfect year. Let me help you my child."

Roo has had a great year, thus far. At the beginning of the year he was unable to put two words together without them disintegrating. He is now able to put three, sometimes four words together, in such a manner that those closest to him are able to comprehend his meaning. I feel confident that he will indeed talk as other children do, it will just take a lot longer!

I am now beginning to learn, and accept, that our family bears little resemblance to most other home educating family I know. I would like to attend more home education events, but I know that for now we have to limit what we are able to do because of Roo's behaviour. I'm learning to relax my dreams and expectations of Roo's education. He will probably attend school for a few years. It's not what I thought would happen, but I'm learning that sometimes "what we recon, and what we get aren't always the same thing!'" (That's a quote from the movie "Romulus My Father.") I'm learning that living in a family means that one must juggle the needs of every family member, and if that means a mix of school and home education, then that's what's best for us at this time. Most of all I'm learning to lean more on the Lord and to trust that he has everything under control. I'm attempting to leave the meticulous planning to Him!


Anonymous said...

Thank you Tricia for your post. I Was touched, I know We both have had very hard journeys this year, thank yoiu for your courage to bare your pain. Love always leanne

Anne (aussieannie) said...

Our little Michael will be 4 in December and he has finally only started talking in sentences in the last month or so, though he played very well, he could play with toys beyond his age and stay the distance, pulling lego apart and reassembling it with great precision, he is a quite, gentle boy who feels things deeply..anyway I am relieved that he is speaking now...