Sunday, November 9, 2008


How long can you comfortably live in a state of denial? Oh, trust me, you can live there for a good amount of time, but comfortably?

I remember when Shea was a baby, I had him in my arms as we walked through our back yard. We went over to the chicken yard and I said something like, "Look at the chickens, Shea. Aren't they funny? Look at our funny chickens!" He said, "CH" but then he never, ever said it again. Oh, yes, I thought it a little odd but I waved it off. Denial? You think?

When our doctor flagged Shea's lack of verbalizing at his 18 month check up, I thought, "What's the big deal. He'll talk when he is ready." I displayed a healthy amount of disdain and skepticism about all the "big fuss". I remember floating luxuriously on a river of excuses and anecdotes about other late talkers. And this went on for years. Was that denial? Probably.

Don't get me wrong, denial is understandable and healthy to a certain extent. In this sense, I consider it a defense mechanism that kicks in to protect your heart and mind of the bad news you think may be coming.

Although, even though I was in denial, we still enrolled Shea in the Developmental Preschool despite thinking that he didn't really need it. I was sure in my mother's heart that he was "going to be fine". I remember thinking, "It couldn't hurt."

There is a large and growing body of evidence about the positive benefits of early intervention. But, some parents may avoid it due to their own denial. I know a family whose child was a late talker. They never did identify her or do any treatment or therapy and, sure enough, the child can talk now. But, the child is having problems with school and some learning issues. There is no way of knowing if anything would be any different if early intervention had been pursued. And, I am not preaching that it would. But, it is a lot harder to get a child identified later on in the public school process. Oh, sure you can do it but if they are identified at a younger age, they do benefit for longer.

I would just encourage parents to keep the avenues of help open; and the earlier the better. You can still pursue them even if you are in denial but reaching out and getting more eyes on your child can open up paths that are hard to even imagine at first.

Early Intervention is not time wasted. Even if your child "doesn't really need it", there is no harm done. No child suffers from just a little more quality attention and in some cases it may be the exact kind of attention they need. And, there is no denying that.

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