It’s been 2 months now since I stepped down from my full time role…my dream job…the one thing I’d fought to continue after the birth of my sons, but the question to many was why? Yes parenting is difficult, but everyone goes through that people told me, toughen up it’s life.
Yes, but for me it came down to 3 letters GDD.
I had never heard of GDD (Global Developmental Delay) until that moment sitting in with our paediatrician nearly 6 months ago. We had always known Hunter was developing differently, but being a twin we were careful not to make quick decisions. We followed the advice of our paediatrician and touched based every 6 months just to see how he was going.
It was November last year during out regular 6 monthly check up that the Dr turned to us and said ‘I think we are dealing with more than just a speech delay…Have you heard of Global Developmental Delay?’
Of course we had no idea what he was talking about but the first thing he explained was it’s a complex situation that results in a child experiencing delays of over 6 months in critical developmental areas including fine and/or gross motor skills, comprehension, speech, processing, problem solving and social / cultural situations.
It was both a shock and a relief. My gut had always known that we were dealing with something but when you have more information to work with then it’s about pulling it together and assessing what needs to be done next.
The most difficult thing with any form of developmental disability I have found is the lack of understanding. The most common comment we face is ‘ahh he’ll get there in his own time, all kids go through this, just give him time…he’s only three’. But the truth is there is no guarantee he will ever get up to speed and as parents we needed to make a decision to support him as early as we possibly could to help give him the best support.
What happened next was a load of research into exactly what GDD is and how it would impact on his life. Like with anything, the internet is crammed full of information on the most extreme cases and the worst outcomes. We spent hours talking to professionals and getting advice and reaching out to support groups for information. Like many people around Hunter we had difficulty processing it as he can be so perfectly ‘normal’ for so much of the time. But then in very subtle ways he struggles and those struggles are overwhelming for the little guy and that’s what I had to come back to. How did we help him transition through the tough times? And so it was with the heaviest of hearts that I made the toughest yet easiest decision…I stepped down from my full time role to focus on Hunter’s development.
GDD can manifest in so many different ways in each child. For us it is small daily battles. Changes that are out of his control cause monumental melt downs. He suffers from a severe speech delay, with processing and recalling. He can’t tell you what he’s done where he’s been, he lacks the vocabulary to articulate his needs and struggles to understand some basic concepts.. He is perfectly ‘normal’ when he is in his domain…riding his bike, running freely etc but when something small changes he lacks that ability to adjust. Then there’s the sensory issues – food is limited, he wont eat easily he fusses more than the normal fussy and it can take hours. Issues with water, textures, certain noises and he suffers from severe sleep anxiety. He suffers from exhaustion and a slightly lowered immune system. But he is also the happiest of fellows at time, cheeky, sassy, determined, stubborn, caring, cuddly and a natural born smarty pants like his parents!
I think processing that something is not right on a developmental level with your child is as difficult as a physical health issue. In some ways you feel you shouldn’t say anything because it’s not as bad as others may be going through…but at the end of the day if could impact on your childs ability to grow, learn and be happy well then it really means everything.. that’s a reason to change your life for your child.
I remember sitting talking to my Dad saying ‘I don’t want to leave work, I’m scared, I love my work’ and he said ‘what would you do if it was medical not developmental you’d drop everything…well this is the same!’