Thursday, December 03, 2009
Show, Don't Tell...
If the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions, then I can identify at least 15 people over the past year who are riding that hand basket.
I mentioned last year that Livvie didn't really start speaking until she was 27 months old. Given that her grandfather didn't speak at all until age 3, I wasn't especially worried... at first. I figured it would come in time. Once she got frustrated enough about her lack of ability to communicate her needs she'd give in and speak. However, once enough people, with "your best interests at heart," begin pestering you about anything, a person will start to worry. So I took the advice of everyone and their pet duck, and I called the state in for an evaluation. I was concerned with nothing but her speech at that point, because she was quite good at many things. My kid is an absolute genius in some areas and not all that bright in others. It's called being human.
When the state came out to see her she wasn't willing to perform like a ball balancing sea lion, so they scored her low, VERY low, in several areas. According to the woman who became her developmental therapist, they essentially indicated that she was autistic. I had had a gut feeling that this would happen. I really despise labeling, and I abhor trying to pigeonhole children into little boxes based on brief interactions. The state began to push me, and push me, to get her services to deal with her perceived needs. They flat out told me that she had Sensory Processing Disorder, even though they were not qualified to make such a diagnosis. The reason they gave me was that back then she preferred to eat Cool Ranch Doritos and garlic dill pickles, and she wasn't a cry baby when she hurt herself (oh for those days). Also, she liked to rough-house. So for a brief period of time I considered their point of view, and then after doing heavy reading on my own determined that their heads were up their asses and she was again, simply human. I am not a person who will live in denial when it comes to her kids. Livvie was, and is, behind in many areas. Here's where the title of this entry comes in.
Kids aren't going to learn anything they aren't taught.
When the state evaluated Livvie they seemed to place great stock in the fact that she couldn't kick a ball. Well, it hadn't occurred to us to even show her how to do that yet. She wouldn't stick coins in a bank. Again, it never dawned on us that this was something she needed to know how to do right then. Anything that I told them she could do, like the fact that I had caught her under the kitchen table unscrewing all of the legs, was taken with a grain of salt. According to them, she had the fine motor skills of someone about a year old. After they left I showed her how to kick a ball. I only had to show her twice.
Maybe I'm wrong, I've certainly been wrong before in my actions, but I follow her lead and her interests. Last winter she discovered the alphabet and colors and shapes thanks to a website that has games for toddlers. She became an addict. She's very much like me in that if she develops an interest in something she will consume as much of it as possible. So last winter I spent about 3 months writing the alphabet for her. Over. And over. I wanted to jump off a bridge. She watched carefully. Again and again she directed me as to which letter I should write next, which color marker to use, how many to do.
This meant that by the age of 33 months she began spelling a few words on her own, could identify some words spelled to her aloud, and by 36 months started writing her name. Roughly, but it was her name.
I have had so many people, attempting to be "helpful," try to gently nudge me into getting her even more services than we ended up using. I'm sorry, but I was looking over age based developmental milestones today, and she's meeting or exceeding most of those for her age. The milestones she has not met are things she has not been taught and some speech issues. How is that a problem?
Why is there a race here?
And it is a race. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently. When I was a child parents let babies be babies, and they let us develop naturally and simply taught us things as they came along. Now, suddenly, being a strong, healthy baby isn't good enough. Now everyone is required to be exceptional. My mother had never even heard of many of the milestones that doctors are now expecting their patients to meet on time or early. She laughed out loud at many of them. She said, "Gosh, babies were boring back in the day. It was kind of nice." In looking over the list today I found milestones Livvie has been doing for ages that I didn't even KNOW were milestones. Shit is getting out of hand. Totally.
I recently left a forum for mommies that I had been on for years due not only to some drama that pushed me over the edge, but also to the fact that everything had become either a brag or a panic. Sitting up at night wondering why Livvie isn't doing such and such when so and so already has does NO ONE any favors. Explaining to someone that she is doing certain things when their kid is not simply because she was taught repeatedly, and it was something she took an interest in, no your kid is not mentally retarded, oh hey, I'm talking to a wall here... that shit gets old.
We learn what we are taught. We learn what we are given the opportunity to practice. We learn what we enjoy.
As parents we do best to step back and see how our child learns best. We've discovered that since Livvie is still obsessed with the alphabet her pronunciation improves dramatically if we say, for instance, "No, use your B. Use your P," when she mispronounces something. More often than not she immediately gets it right on her second try.
I see a whole lot of laziness going on around me. I see a lot of expectations that haven't been met with no effort made to see that they are. I also see children, even babies, pushed ridiculously hard by their parents to become tiny Einsteins instead of letting them really enjoy each day of babyhood.
They seem to forget that Einstein didn't speak until he was four, and his father referred to him as, "the retard."
So tomorrow Livvie and I will once again work on developing her hand strength by squeezing tubes of glitter glue so that the next time we try scissors she won't get upset because she didn't do it perfectly on the first try.
Because it's not that big of a deal. I'm fairly certain she'll be able to use scissors by the time she gets to college.