My son has special needs, but I'm not sure what they are...yet.

by Karen I've recently begun writing about our experiences going through the system to get our son assessed.  It all started last summer when we were having communication difficulties around potty training. Eventually, we decided to talk to our doctor about motor skills as well. We've since added emotional development and behavior to the list.

That's a heavy load on our minds as parents, but in the grand scheme of things we are very blessed. We simply have challenges that may be considered by some to be outside of the "norm". And yet, life is just like that.

"Normal" is Relative

I have three family members who are on the autism spectrum so I've always known it was possible that Brandon could be as well since there's a strong genetic link. One family member was diagnosed as an adult and it explained so much about this individual. Resources and knowledge are far different now than they were when I was a child.

It can feel like such a punch in the gut to hear someone you trust tell you that you should think about getting your child assessed, but it's worth it to be proactive.

My experience so far has been so positive - friends are quick to offer support, helpful advice. The specialists we're seeing are incredibly compassionate professionals who take Brandon as he is and work with him. The waiting feels like it will never end, but we're finally seeing results after nearly 11 months.

The Testing Begins

It can be intimidating to go for an assessment, but the specialists we've encountered have been outstanding. They play with Brandon and work hard to engage him in ways that he will enjoy and respond to. When it's clear he's had enough, they generally don't push him too much further.

We've had two assessments so far. There are more to come.

The Goal

This is all part of a grand plan I have to give my son the very best life he can have. These assessments will put us on the right track. I want to know what makes Brandon tick. I want to know how to help him understand me better and vice versa.

Unexpected Inspiration

When I attended a conference recently, I got to see Jason Goldsmith - of The Big Blue Hug - speak about his son Ellis, who is autistic. Check out this video excerpt of the session:

Hearing Jason talk reinforced beliefs I've had all along:

  • Nothing is "wrong" with my son. He is exactly right just the way he is.
  • Assessments are just a jargony way of saying you have to be creatively vigilant and diligent to learn how to reach a child in the way that works for them.
  • I will do whatever it takes to help my son, because just as I get to share my stories in a way that works for me, I want him to find a way to share his.

I'm going to write about this from time to time as we go through this process. My hope is that I can help parents who may have fears about this process by sharing my story.

Do you have a child with special needs? What is the one piece of advice you'd give other parents?


Karen Wilson is a wife to Matt and mom to Brandon (4), who blogs about her life at Karen’s Chronicles. She can be found at Wellman Wilson, helping businesses use social media more effectively. Lately, she’s also busy planning a little conference and doing her part to keep the coffee industry alive.