There is some sort of intuition that parents have that something isn't right with your child and it is ok to fight until you can make it right.
Children should be generally happy and joyful, if they are not then something needs to be changed. Even if it seems common, doesn't mean it cannot be improved.
Physical Health in my Littlest Little
From the beginning my youngest has caused 'excitement'. At 23 weeks pregnant, I was emitted to the hospital due to bleeding to find out I had a placental abruption, which had caused my water to break. Luckily I was in the hospital for 9 weeks and she was born at 32 weeks by emergency caesarean because she kept sitting on the ambilocal cord and causing her heart rate to drop.
She was born weighing 3lbs 1oz. While in the hospital she became constipated which caused extreme back up, vomiting, belly distention, etc... She was released 1 month after birth and the constipation continued along with 24hrs of 2hrs sleeping-2hrs crying-2hr sleeping. Finally after months and months of fighting the doctor referred me to a specialist, not because he thought he should but to appease me. The note to the specialist actually started 'The parents think...' After one appointment with the specialist she told us it was a soy intolerance and the extremely helped the constipation. However this had already caused delays in large motor function because she was unable to do tummy time.
We also noticed a 9 months that she was not making the verbal sounds that would be expected. Through multiple appointments with and ENT doctor it was found that she continually had fluid in her ears so could not hear properly. At 15 months she got tubes in her ears and at 18 months started speech therapy.
Leading up to school we started as we did with our oldest to potty train, however it did not go well at all. We attempted to set a timer however sometimes she would hold it 1-2hrs and some days she would only hold it for 30min. Also when she would wet her pants she wouldn't tell anyone and just continue playing. If timed she was able to mostly stay dry however not once indicated on her own she needed to go to the bathroom. As the stress around this grew she became constipated again which lead to other difficulties. A month into school it was asked to just send her in pull ups.
We went to a paediatrician (not the first time) to make sure there was nothing physically wrong with her urinary and bowl systems. That is when we were referred to the Child and Youth Mental Health Centre because she thought it was behavioural.
Metal Health in my Littlest Little
“Caring for the mind is as important as caring for the body. In fact, on cannot be healthy without the other.” ~Sid Garza-Hillman
I am not a mental health professional and do not claim to be more knowledgeable then the average joe, this is just based on my experience and thoughts. Although she struggled with many physical health issues at a fairly young age I questioned if she needed mental health support. I was always met with, she's young she will figure it out, she's just learning.
Due to her delayed speech she was quick to show her emotions physically, she went through various stages of of how she showed that emotions from biting, hitting, throwing things (including chairs), etc... The one that really made me think was when she was going through her head banging stage. She was purposefully hurting herself because she didn't know what to do with her emotions.
At daycare one day she started to bang her head on the asphalt, the teacher moved her to the grass in an attempt to limit any harm. She walked back to the asphalt and continued to bang her head until she had a large mark on her forehead.
Even after that I was still met with the same remarks of she's just little... The actions changed and got more manageable, however her inability to deal with her emotions did not change and we had no idea of where to turn.
Finally as said above after a paediatrician appointment to discuss pottying we were referred to the Child and Youth Mental Health Centre in our area. I called the centre from the parking lot of the doctors office. Within a month we were connected to the quick access services.
One thing I should highlight, is I believe that a lot of individuals don't think young children can have mental health issues because they can't talk about, can't describe it, can't understand it. First of all most adults can't either, however counselling for young children is actually for the parents and caregivers to show them how to parent and support the littles while dealing with the mental health. As well as ensuring a positive environment so they can grow and learn coping skills of their own. Just think about it, how frustrating would it be to have big feelings and not know what to do with them or how to express them.
Her first year of school was a struggle, she didn't want to participate in anything and often had large melt downs that meant she sat out of activities. Also to add to it is was in the midst of COVID. We started the quick access in December of 2020 and then a good portion of the remainder of the year was online learning. However we found the education and tools the quick access provided helped us to help her and thing seemed to be going better.
We also took her to a private Occupational Therapist (OT) because she was not considered severe enough for the school to make her a priority. The OT gave us exercises to due to help integrate her primitive reflexes, also she said it seemed that there was a disconnect between her bodily functions and her brain.
With all the resources it seemed to be going well, however when she started school the following year things turned upside down. She continued to not be potty trained and seemed to be trying to hold it together at school only to spend most evenings upset, screaming, etc… to the point our household could not handle any more of it. We reached back out to the Mental Health Centre and got on the list for a councillor. As part of this they suggested to get back to the paediatrician in the event they want to refer to a psychiatrist. The previous paediatrician moved so we had to make an appointment with the family doctor (however saw the physician's assistant) to get referred to a new paediatrician. While at the appointment the mental health discussion was ignored and pottying was the focus for which I was told by the physician's assistant that he believed it was all a result of just chronic constipation and ‘bad habits’. Fucking bad habits, how more clear can you make it that you believe nothing I am saying and you think it is a result of bad parenting…
When I got home, I broke down, I was so exhausted from fighting for the last 5 years to get my daughter what she needs and it just keeps going. It should not be that way, all I am asking of them is to support me as a parent and do the testing and evaluations in their power to ensure my daughter is ok.
However we got the required referral and now we wait.
Dealing with the School
Following the last call with the social worker from the Child and Youth Mental Health Centre she suggested to look at what we could do with the school to help ease the stress of the emotions at home.
I contacted the teacher in a phone call expressed our concerns and what we had been dealing with and asked if there was a way to provide our daughter with downtime or something so that she hopefully isn't so done when she gets home. I was met with she seems fine at school, we don't see that and we are going to continue as is here.
Following this I sent an email to the teacher, principal and resource consultant. I explained everything in detail, outlined my concerns to the reaction I received on the phone and insisted something should change. Within minutes I received a call from the resource consultant, a call on my home phone and cell from the principal and an email from the principal. I returned the email and indicated that I was busy at that moment had to leave shortly to pick our oldest up early. The principal walk my oldest our when I went to pick her up and was very caring and assured me they would start implementing some changes the next day. After an in person meeting they also indicated they would put her at the top of the OT list and called about physio getting to see her.
They began the next day taking her to the sensory room 3 times a day while taking a classmate of hers and they put a tent in the classroom for a break. After a week there were signs of improvement however then it was Christmas break and then Lockdown from COVID again so we will see how it goes when we go back to school.
Moral of the story
I have fought hard for almost 6 years now for many things (not even all mentioned here) for my daughters and I will continue to fight for everything they need even if I am told I am crazy. I know I am right and I know when they need help! It is exhausting but I am capable and will never regret any of it!
If you ever feel unheard and need to vent, cry, scream to help you continue please do, find a friend to do it with or contact me if you feel alone. Everyone is struggling in someway!