As a mother you a gifted with the unique ability to sense when something is wrong with your child. Whether you call it a maternal instinct, sixth sense, following your gut or something else it’s a powerful force not to be ignored. It also just might turn out to be your biggest ally when it comes to stepping up to become your child’s best advocate.
5 Steps to Becoming Your Child’s BEST Advocate + Building a Support Team
Today marked a big milestone for our youngest as Liv she entered SDC Preschool through our local school district. As a mother of 5 young kids one thing I have come to realize is that a mother’s intuition should NOT be ignored. From the time Olivia was about 6 months old I had this sense that there was something the doctors were missing. I kept commenting about her mood swings, frustration and inability to focus. But, they kept brushing it off as normal infant/toddler behavior. As she continued to fall behind her peers on developmental milestones I had to start fighting back. I had to become her advocate and help get her the help she needed. In order to help other mothers out there who might be struggling with a similar issue I have put together the following list of steps I took in order to become my child’s best advocate as well as some tips on building a support team around you both.
1 Mothers Intuition
As a mother you are gifted with the incredible ability to sense when something is wrong with your child, when they are in danger and when they need help. Do NOT ignore this sense. Use it as a tool to help guide you into finding the care your child needs.
2 Monitor & Record
When in the moment it can be hard to recollect all the pieces that led you to believe there was something amiss with your child. Make it easy and begin recording behaviors that seem abnormal or concerning. Things like monitoring eating, social deficits, hyperactivity, repetitive behavior, attention, triggers (certain noises, textures), bathroom issues, feeding complications, language impairment, sleep pattern, moods etc… This can help doctors and therapists narrow down the scope and figure out what is going on leading you to receive an early diagnosis which is critical when it comes to early intervention and successful treatment.
3 Meet with Your Pediatrician
Once you have monitored and recorded your child’s information for about a week, call and make an appointment to meet with your pediatrician. Most likely they will want to see the child so that they can observe their behaviors as well during the appointment. Keep in mind that it is difficult for doctors to discern whether or not a toddler’s behavior is abnormal because let’s face it. All toddlers have their moments of breakdowns, tantrums and hard-headedness.
In order to have a successful appointment make sure to come prepared. Narrow down your 2-3 biggest concerns and bring your records with you. It is also wise to write down a few important questions that you want to make sure you get answers to as well.
Doctors will take into consideration your insight as a mother. The better prepared you come the more successful your appointment will be. Your diligent preparation also helps streamline the process so that you can receive a referral for a specialist quicker.
4 Research State Funded Programs
Therapy is NOT cheap. Nor should it be because the incredible therapists that pour out their love for our children should be paid very well. However, there are state funded programs within the U.S. that can be incredibly beneficial for families. Liv qualified at 2 years old for a Regional Center that serviced infants and toddlers. She received a license therapist once weekly who actually came to our house to work with her. At age 3 she transferred into our local school district where I met with a team and developed her IEP Plan (read more about Individualized Education Plans here). Once testing was completed by the school district we were informed that Liv qualified for SDC Preschool which was located at a nearby elementary school. There she receives 4 hours a day, 5 days a week of special instruction + therapy sessions for speech, focus and behavior. And, the most amazing part… it is all covered by the state of California under their early intervention care. So, it is defnitely worth the time it takes to research out these programs. Here are some easy ways to find out what programs might exist near you:
- Look online
- Ask friends on Facebook
- Contact the local school district
- Ask your pediatrician
5 Don’t Take NO for an Answer
There is a very good chance that you do all 4 steps above and are not able to get very far. Don’t give up! If you believe your child is in need of assistance you have to be the squeaky wheel. You need to get out there and keep trying. Your child needs someone on their team that is resilient, someone with fortitude, someone who won’t back down when the going gets tough. They need you!!!
In order for you to stay on top of your game and not get beat down you are going to need a team to cheer you on. I know there were times when I was dragging where I needed a pep talk. There were other nights I needed a listening ear from a girlfriend so a could vent and a strong cocktail in my hand while I did it. I had my team and its a whole village. To help you develop your support team I have a few suggestions.
Building Your Support Team
First cast your net locally. Are there friends and family that live near by that could become powerful allies? Maybe they could help you research, watch your kids so you can get a break or just be there as a shoulder to lean on. I know it is hard to reach out for help but trust me. You deserve it! And, you will be surprised how many people will step up to help when they know you are having a hard time. I have grown my friendships and become so much closer to my family while going through this process. I also learned how incredibly blessed I was to be surrounded by so much love. So, pick up the phone and start making some calls. The first one is the hardest but after that you will feel a million times better.
We are so lucky to be living in the era that we are where we can connect with people all over the world. This includes finding parents who are dealing with the same circumstances you are. This is a hige benefit because not only do you gain support from someone who really “gets it” but you also get to learn from each others experiences. It is a great way to find out about new treatment options, medications etc… Some places to look are:
Connect with your church family. If you attend a church check with them to see if they offer any programs that might be of assistance to you. If you don’t attend a church but are interested in this option don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Local churches typically are very involved with their communities and can be a great resource when you are struggling.
+ Reach Out to Me
If you are reading this obviously you know that I am going through a similar circumstance. Feel free to leave me a comment or email me email@example.com. Community is a gift and I am happy to be a part of yours. I promise to respond to every email within 7-10 business days. Although, most times it will be much sooner.