I had to chuckle when I received my son’s daily progress report a few years back. The PE teacher wrote, “Excellent Athlete”. Although that may not seem significant to most, it was a reminder of what the pediatrician told me 16 years ago when my son was 8 months old. He had diagnosed Brad with hypotonia, low upper body muscle tone. When I asked the doctor what does that mean long term, he said, “Well, he may not be able to walk and probably won’t be an Olympian!” If I had stopped there and given in to that prediction Brad would certainly not be where he is now, swimming with friends, playing high school football and other sports.
Brad’s hypotonia diagnosis morphed into many other challenges through the years, including speech delays, motor delays, and a myriad of learning disabilities. Although I was furious with the doctor and his prediction at that moment, I am so grateful for the early diagnosis and the early interventions that Brad has received.
We are our child’s best advocate and we cannot give in to what others say or think our child can achieve. It is not a matter of being unrealistic, it is having hope and helping our child be the best they can be. Knowing that we did everything we could to help our child succeed is all we really can do.
Today, Brad is a junior in high school and is playing football. I am pretty sure that the doctor would never have predicted that, but I am absolutely certain that without the help of many talented therapists and teachers throughout his early years and beyond he would not be where he is today-a happy, healthy, young man who may still have challenges, but is able to overcome obstacles in spite of them.
I am convinced that early intervention is the key to success. As parents and educators, we need to give our kids as many advantages as possible at an early age. Don’t delay.
Beth McGaw is the mother of Brad and serves on the LDA Board of Directors and an active member of LDA Texas.