Having a baby is a wonderful journey. It is filled with unexpected joys, moments of laughter, pride and boundless love. But what happens if something goes wrong? Or, if you suspect that something is not right with your baby or child? What should you do?
The first thing to realize is that you are not alone. There are many parents out there who have been (or are) in your shoes. This new blog series will give you the knowledge you need to help you deal with the unexpected. It will take you from the beginning (when you suspect or confirm that something is not going according to plan), right up through your baby’s childhood to help you navigate the choppy waters. Hopefully, with this “GPS,” you will feel in control of your journey.
If you are reading this blog post, you may suspect that something is not right with your baby or child. But, you may not want to take the next step because you are cautious about labeling your child, or you are simply afraid of the road that you may end up going down. Well-meaning grandparents, relatives or friends may tell you that your child is fine, marches to a different drummer, needs discipline or time. That may all be true, but you know your child best. If you think that there is a chance that your baby is struggling or is delayed, then the best gift you can give your child is the help he needs to catch up – as soon as possible. Time matters. In many cases, babies and young children qualify for “early intervention services” based simply on a “developmental delay” and a more detailed diagnosis is not necessary to receive helpful services. So, “labeling” your child may not be an issue at all. Try not to worry about what other people may think; just concentrate on getting your child help.
Why this blog? Why March of Dimes?
The March of Dimes’ history is lengthy. Since 1938 we have been working tirelessly to improve the health of babies and children. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) founded the March of Dimes to defeat polio, a crippling disease that afflicted him. Success came in the form of a vaccine which protects children from polio to this day. FDR was an outstanding advocate for the disabled, and knew all too well how a disability affects not only an individual, but also his/her family and society.
After polio, the March of Dimes went on to fund some of the greatest medical advances of the 20th century. In fact, our work has been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes (that could be its own blog series!). But I digress…The point is that inherent in the March of Dimes is the goal to help babies and children live healthier lives. So, helping parents find resources for their children when things go wrong fits right in with our mission.
As I write this blog, my personal story may unfold from time to time. I am a parent of two children – a boy and a girl – one with special needs. How I wish I had had a blueprint to follow when my daughter was a toddler experiencing “developmental delays!” I was lost and frankly clueless. I took parenting classes, went to support groups and of course took my daughter to countless doctors. There was no Internet to “Google” a diagnosis or find support groups. Nevertheless, I muddled through, and amassed an enormous amount of information along the way. Now, I want to share my knowledge with you so that you can be an informed parent and educated advocate. As a Health Educator with a Master’s of Science degree and a parent of a special needs child, I hope to bring a perspective that provides a combination of “I get it – I’ve been there” with a factual blueprint for you to follow.
My kids are both in their 20’s now, and I have to say I would not trade in this journey for the world. My special needs baby girl is a recent college graduate (looking for her first job), and despite the fact that she may always experience more bumps in her road than the “typical kid,” she has done remarkably well. She also sends a message to all parents with kids with “issues” to focus on their children’s gifts and strengths, and in time, you will see that they will blossom to be the best they can be. Never say never!
So take a good look at this poster of a polio victim holding a photo of FDR. The hard-to-see caption reads “We polios can fill almost any job.” To me it speaks volumes. If an individual afflicted with polio could be our nation’s president for four terms, it is time to look beyond the disability and see the ability in everyone.
So, stay tuned for the upcoming series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It will appear every Wednesday for the next few months. We will love to hear your comments and input!