"Well, the fact really is that I do not know what I'm really in search of. I know that my son, Jack, may have problems but then I don't know. It just seems that he is fine in most situations and in others something is terribly wrong. I'm always questioning my judgment. I know that something is amiss when I look at his entire life."
"Haley was just getting thinner. I knew something was wrong but everyone kept telling me that she would grow out of it. I could not confront the doctor. In retrospect, I should have got a second and maybe a third opinion when she was not showing up for dinner. I mean I thought it was just a teenage thing. And then it hit me right in the face. I almost lost my daughter."
I talked about the power of "flags" in my October blog. I also talked about when a "flag" is a true warning sign in my September post. Jack's mother was initially concerned about his ability to focus when he was in kindergarten. In addition, he had difficulty cooperating with his schoolmates during recess. Jack's troubles with making and keeping friends have not improved despite his desire to socialize with his peers. Peers do not return his calls. Jack deeply wants friends but something is amiss in the process of making a friend. Jack's mother did not think that this was a problem because he always did well in the classroom. In fact, Jack ‘s classmates often asked him to help them with class projects and homework. Jack's mother is now searching for answers. She is really concerned at this point and wonders how her son's life will be impacted at college and work. Jack's mother has good cause to be concerned. Why now? Jack is 14-years-old now and very anxious. He knows that things are "not quite right."
We do not want our child to have problems. We deeply want our child to be o.k. in every day life. However, it can take some parent's years until they come to understand that there is a really BIG problem. Why?
Haley's mother saw her daughter's weight loss over the months. Why did she not notice this visible sign? There were many signs. As I mentioned in my September blog, Haley had trouble handing in her assignments on time and had problems sustaining her focus during classes that she did not like. These problems were long-standing, frequent, severe, and pervasive. Haley's mother did not check out the first warning signs that "something was not quite right." For example, she did not contact her daughter's teachers to learn more about this potential problem. I talked with Haley's mother. She told me that she did not trust her instinct that "something was not quite right" and regrets it.
These two examples indicate that you, as a parent, must trust your "gut." If "something is not quite right" please talk to your child's pediatrician, teachers, partner, and significant others in your family. Think outside of your "box." MOVE on your instincts. You know your child the best. This will truly make a difference and you will not regret it.
I know that I have been discussing this issue since September. I can't tell you how many parents have come to see me and other healthcare providers years after they initially suspected that "something was not quite right." You really must trust your "gut." You DO know your child and it is up to you and the healthcare professionals to explore your areas of concern. Information is power!
Karen L. Schiltz, Ph.D.
Psychologist (CA PSY 9508)
Private Neuropsychology Practice of Karen Schiltz Ph.D. and Associates
Associate Clinical Professor (Voluntary)
Medical Psychology Assessment Center
Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Services
Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA