Thursday, October 11, 2012

Labelling young Children Part III: Telling Our Story

I'm not sure if I have the time to write everything I want regarding labelling our children.  There may be a part IV to this so I can better explain our story.  As many of you already know, we had some struggles the first few years with our son Park's development and behavior.  Park didn't meet the important milestones of communication with us and socially grew distracted.  It was suggested he was autistic so we didn't waste anytime and began working diligently with communication as well as enrolled him in the Early Intervention Program.  He was subjected to rigorous testing but no one was able to find for sure any delays or disorders other than his speech.  Meanwhile, my husband and I reassessed his environment, took a better look at what he was eating and whether there was something else going on.  After many changes in Park's diet, we felt he was going to be okay and that there was nothing wrong with our son.   I was unhappy with his pediatrician and unhappy with a lot of aspects of our country's over willingness to label our children without first asking the most obvious questions: What does he eat?  Are there stresses at home?  Could Park's social behavior be caused from his inability to communicate?  Could his vaccines caused his odd behavior?  We were fortunate, really fortunate that Park continued to progress positively.  And Park is really fortunate that he has parents like us who aren't willing to accept a label without doing a little homework first.

I've blogged about our experience with Park quite a bit.  The whole reason I began my blog was to find an outlet for my struggles with Park and as a mother.  I'm not one of those sugar coated moms who pretends their kids are perfect and that I'm the perfect mother.  I definitely have made some choices as a parent I regret and my kids aren't perfect.  But as a mother, I'm not willing to let a pediatrician or a psychologist or another mommy friend tell me that my child is autistic because he likes to play with trains or that he is "just fine" when I've always known Park had an internal struggle going on that was causing his behaviors and inability to communicate like other children his age.  My husband and I have strong feelings about what we think caused Park's developmental delays but that's not the point I want to get into today.  What I want to say is that there is an epidemic going on in our country's youth and it's sickening and tragic.  While I don't disagree that some labels have tremendously helped some children, I firmly believe we are over-diagnosing, over-prescribing and over-compensating for the unhealthy environment we are bringing our children into.

I was contacted by a mother and writer this past summer about interviewing my family about the pros and cons of labelling children.  She asked many questions about our story and I was more than willing to divulge it all.  This is why I write my blog.  I want to tell others about our story not only to give a little hope to other struggling parents but to let them know there are other ways to help our children other than the usual doctor-diagnosis-prescibing meds route. 

While the story about the pros and cons of labelling children was good, I was disappointed in how our story was portrayed in the article that came out in the October issue of Parenting magazine.  I would post the link to the article but it still isn't up on their web site.  I will as soon as it's up.  Anyways, if you read the article you will think that all we did with Park was remove dairy from his diet and within 5 days he was healed.  Although we did remove dairy from his diet, it wasn't until 3 months after he was tested for autism that we did this.  We did many things to help Park, that being one of them but not the only thing.  I want to make that clear because I'd hate for other parents in the same situation to think that could be the magic cure because it wasn't.  Yes, we found Park had a strong dairy intolerance (the type of allergy that can affect behavior) but he was also eating a snack that had food coloring, I worked very hard with him at home, we did heavy metal cleanses with him and most of all, we had specialists work with him and his communication for an entire year. 

After the story came out, I was contacted by the Today Show who picked up the story which was aired today.  I was initially interviewed as a parent who is against labels.  They wanted to fly out to interview me but didn't because I didn't accept a label for Park and worked hard to cleanse his body and environment first.  We were fortunate that we were correct in our actions, I also know some children greatly benefit from the label.  And I guess you could also say that without Park's label as "speech delayed" he would have never qualified for services within the Early Intervention program so in a way, his label was a good thing.  Because I was on the mend about labels, they decided to drop my story.  I was disappointed that I didn't get to tell our whole story but at least I get to on here:)  If telling our story affects even one family positively then I'm satisfied!  Click on the link below to view the story that aired this morning on the Today Show:


I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be interviewed and to share our story.  For me, this is the best thing that could have ever come out of my blog and truly my reason for doing it.  Thank you for following my blog and please message me if you have any more questions about our story.  I'm more than happy to share!

~Mommy Bridget

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