This is a series of posts on my journey through Apraxia with my son. I am sharing our story, because although it may not be relevant to the masses, anyone with a child facing a disability of any kind will likely share similar emotions and obstacles. If our experience comforts the heart of just one mamma, than it is worth sharing. So please, feel welcome to share your story in the comments.
To Fight or Not To Fight?
If there is anything I have learned through this experience it is how to be more bold and stand up for what I think my son needs. With that said, if there is one area where I sometimes feel I am failing, it is in being bold and standing up for what I think my son needs.
I have been having an internal debate for months. The kind of internal debate that I think all mothers/parents sometimes have. The kind where you lay awake at night wondering if you have done the right thing.
As I shared previously in Part One of this series, we had just moved when we found out how serious Thatchers speech delay was. The state we lived in previously had great services for Thatcher and he would have had even better services as he was turning three. He was getting two hours a week of Speech Therapy and was about to start a special preschool where he would attend everyday for two hours and be pulled out for speech therapy while at school.
When we moved the new state wanted to give him five half hour speech therapy sessions a month, and nothing else. I was furious. I like to blame it on the fact that I was pregnant, but I started crying right there in front of the three ladies who had done his evaluation. I could hardly talk I was so mad. I pulled it together enough to somewhat eloquently tell them that was not exceptable. They knew it wasn’t exceptable either. They had already told me they had never seen a child with such a severe delay, who didn’t also have another disability that the Apraxia was secondary to. I could see it in their eyes. One of them was on the brink of tears herself.
The following week when I went back in, those same three women told me that they had done everything they could and got it changed to seven half hour sessions a month. He had been getting two full hour sessions a week before we moved. At that moment I realized it was up to me. I couldn’t count on anyone to help him in the way I knew he needed, except for myself.
I did my best to turn myself into a speech therapist, so that I could work on the things he was doing in therapy, on the other 23 days of the month that he did not see his therapist. Even though he was only three I felt he needed to be in a preschool setting to be around speaking children and have routine. I was disappointed with the ones I researched in our area so I found a few friends with children Thatchers age that were willing to do a preschool in my home with me to give him the exposure to children and routine I felt he needed.
I started asking questions about what to expect when he got to kindergarten, would there be an aid or someone in his classroom during critical times like reading and math, where he would need the most help. Again, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Nothing. He would have no additional support. In the state where we live children need to have two diagnosis’ to be eligible for certain funding and or services. This was just one more incidence where we would find we fell short in diagnosis’ yet again.
We have hit this wall many times in our Journey with Thatcher. We are EXTREMELY grateful that Thatcher has only one diagnosis, but it is beyond frustrating that the level of severity in the one diagnosis that he has, is in some cases much greater then the sum of two diagnosis in another special needs child, but because they have a second diagnosis they qualify for services that Thatcher is turned down for.
On multiple occasions we have contemplated getting a disabilities lawyer to see if there is anything we can do to fight for better services for Thatcher. After speaking to a mother who went through a court case with her special needs daughter I couldn’t believe how expensive it was and the time and stress it put on her during the process.
I wage the internal battle of wondering if I could keep up the important things I do for Thatcher, not to mention caring for my other two sweethearts, if I was stressed and worried about the outcome of a court process we really can’t afford.
For now, we see Thatcher excelling with the opportunities we work hard to give him. He is improving. He is happy. And although there is a big part of me that wants to sink my Mama Bear Claws into the system and go after them for what my son deserves, there is another part of me that recognizes I can’t do everything.
Every time I have been at my lowest moment, sick with worry and overwhelmed, right around the corner there has been some kind of Miracle. Whether it is the extra two hundred dollars a month that just happens to cover the supplements Thatcher needs, the free music therapy a women who attends our church offered to give him after seeing him “sing” in a children’s program, or being selected out of hundreds of children with Apraxia to receive an iPad, and so on and so on. These miracles are proof to me that I am not the only one working to make up for what Thatcher loses out on in our new state. There is someone else fighting for Thatcher, someone who knows exactly what he needs even more then I do.
I wish I could say that I am strong everyday, that I stay focused on these positive things, but I am not. The worries still come, the future still terrifies me, and in 10 years I wonder if I will regret not fighting harder against the system. But for now I am doing what I can and trying to be self aware enough to know my limits and weigh the possible outcomes. Each case is different and for our family right now, we feel the best thing for me to do is to keep doing what I am doing. When Thatcher hits kindergarten and they try to tell me he doesn’t need any extra help in the classroom…………well, now that could get ugly!!!