Is It Time To Have My Child Professionally Evaluated?
It’s one of the most common questions I hear from other moms, particularly moms with wonderfully different little ones.
It’s a question that I asked myself and others, over and over again, for both of my boys.
It’s a question that I would think about at night, unable to sleep, trying to figure out what to do next.
“Do I need to take my child in for a professional evaluation?”
I am not an expert.
I am not a doctor.
I am not an OT or child psychologist, or neurologist, or developmental pediatrician, or anything else that requires any sort of education related to diagnosing any of this.
I am just a mom.
In answering this question, I have always done so with a mother’s heart. My answer is what I wish someone would’ve said to me.
When it is time to get an evaluation, you will know.
You may question everything about it. You may go back and forth on the weird pendulum swing of maybes and what ifs and it’s not that bad compared to so and so.
But at the end of the day, you will still be the mom. The way you see your child and know your child, is different from the perspective of any expert, family member, or other mom. That matters in all of this.
Is It Time For A Professional Evaluation?
Look to your child in making this decision. Don’t worry so much about what the websites with quizzes say, or the fact that your child still isn’t meeting a milestone that the boy at the park is meeting.
Don’t talk yourself into and out of making an appointment, because of your own fear, anxiety or shame.
If your child is a little older and you still don’t know, it’s gets more complicated. The well child check-ups with the pediatrician aren’t suggesting any immediate need for a diagnosis which is good, but still…something just doesn’t seem right, to you, the mom.
These are the questions I have recommended parents ask themselves, for a little but of clarity and to help focus our attention back on our children instead of the doctors’ checklists.
1. Is your child aware of any differences between his/herself and other children?
2. If so, how does that affect him/her?
3. Is your child suffering in any way from issues/behaviors that continue beyond a few months?
4. What do you suspect, if anything? Have you researched it at all? Does it seem to line up with what you are seeing?
5. At the end of the day, what would your child gain from a diagnosis, should it come to that?
After answering these questions, the only thing I can advise you to do is follow your heart, no matter how scary it seems. You know this child better than anyone in the world.
When It’s Time To Have Your Child Evaluated
I wish someone would have said all of this to me because I already knew the answer.
For a long time I knew.
For both boys, I waited too long because the pediatrician didn’t say anything was wrong at the 4, 5, or 6-year-old check-ups. Because someone told me I was just overprotective. Because I was scared that something would come of it.
Because I was scared nothing would come of it.
I have already shared how much the boys’ diagnoses have brought nothing but good. Our “labels” have given us understanding, knowledge and peace. If I could change anything, it would be to not be so afraid, and to not wait – to just look at my boys and do what they needed.
I hope this is helpful. I pray it doesn’t cause more worry.
My desire is to encourage and to build you up to make the best decision for your child. For some of you, that might mean relaxing a bit and not getting caught up in the medical when maybe your little love just needs more time. For others, it might mean pushing back the fear and making the decision to pursue a professional evaluation.
In either case, you are your child’s mother.
I totally trust you.
Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned educational consultant, and mom of two brilliant boys who have learning differences and special needs.
Shawna has also written four books: Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos, and Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. A passionate advocate for individualized education, Shawna is frequently featured on Today.com, Simple Homeschool, Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and The Mighty. She can also be found supporting parents online at her own site, DifferentByDesignLearning.com.