A. My personal story will answer this question!
In 1966 my first born, Michelle, was everything I had ever wanted. She seemed well and happy and gurgled happily like most babies do.
When her sister arrived 13 months later, I started to realise that Michelle had not hit the milestones that her sister passed with ease, and she was actually learning more from her younger sister’s development.
My heart skipped a beat the day it dawned on me that there was something wrong with my firstborn. My dear baby girl was learning to become agitated, frustrated and angry with her limitations and I didn’t know what on earth to do about it. I was gripped with guilt and fear.
So that’s where my journey started. I consulted professionals, doctors, psychologists and educationists. The overwhelming feedback was that there was something wrong with me! I was not parenting her effectively.
And I was dismissed with little to no support. I was inflamed, outraged and stigmatised. I was doing my best, for God’s sake! And I knew in my gut that their assessments were wrong. But I didn’t know where to go to get help.
I’ll always remember what the doctors told me: one said that there was nothing there that good parenting couldn’t fix.
Another doctor proclaimed that if she grew up to be functional, the best she could hope to achieve was to be a dishwasher and even then, she wouldn’t be much good at that.
I was devastated by these comments, and the disturbing ‘life sentence’, and young Michelle remained angry, agitated, sad, aggressive, and very difficult to manage. Her fine motor skills were clumsy and she lacked the ability to express herself clearly.
Sadly this all placed a lot of strain on my marriage as her father failed to cope with the demands of this little girl, and within five years we had separated. Now I had the complications of divorce, separation and a challenging situation with Michelle’s father, and was left to face this situation alone.