Anna thought something was a little different about her son, Isaiah, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Her happy, fun-loving 4-year-old consistently displayed behaviors that gave her cause for concern. Her husband, John, urged Anna to stop overanalyzing their son, to just let him be a kid. But Isaiah’s behavioral issues continued and the warning signs continued.
As Isaiah grew, Anna began to notice more signs and symptoms that something might be off. The boy would clap his hands and flap his arms at random times, or he would run back and forth across the room as if he was pacing; albeit in a full-on sprint.
Anna wondered if this was normal behavior, at least until his behavioral problems started affecting Isaiah’s social interactions. At church, he was removed from his class multiple times for being aggressive toward the other kids.
Isaiah had difficulty playing with other kids. He was either too aggressive or annoying and clingy.
“He would hang on his friends, hug them all the time, and be in their personal bubble,” Anna says. “This was so hard for me to watch, because at playdates, other kids didn’t want to play with him. It was terribly sad and my heart hurt for him.”
Though Anna was becoming more convinced something was wrong, she hesitated to talk about what she was observing. And when she finally voiced her concerns to her husband and other close family members, they said Isaiah was “just being a boy,” and that he simply had lots of energy.
Taking That First Step
In a culture that values strength and normalcy, it can be difficult to accept weakness or differences – especially with our own children. Some parents put off seeking help for fear their child might be held back or marginalized. This was certainly true of John as he and Anna discussed their son’s issues. John was concerned that Isaiah might be “labeled.”
Anna, meanwhile, was struggling. Like many parents, she was tempted to ignore that small voice inside that suggests there might be something wrong with your child.
“I wondered if I was making something up that simply wasn’t there,” she says.
Eventually, thanks to the encouragement of a friend in the medical field, Anna and John took Isaiah to their pediatrician for an evaluation. It was a first step toward getting him the help he needed. Anna was thankful they were finally taking action, even if their journey was only beginning.
“As John and I continued to discuss the issues I was seeing in Isaiah,” she says, “we both agreed that we didn’t want our son to start school at a disadvantage just because we saw warning signs and chose to ignore them.”
As you consider your own family, is there is a sense of emotional, mental or physical concern for any of your children? Perhaps some area of weakness that you’ve tried to ignore or brush aside? Part of being pro-life is caring for the children among us who display weakness and vulnerability.
If you have concerns about your child, there are simple steps you can take right now. Talk with your pediatrician. Ask a trusted friend if they notice the same concerning behaviors. Pray and ask God to direct your steps as you seek to care for your child.
Embracing the sanctity of every human being means that we accept with gratitude every life that God gives to each of our families. Being pro-life means treating even the littlest humans with the dignity and care they deserve.
Setting Aside Guilt
As Isaiah’s family worked through several evaluations and an eventual diagnosis of neurological overflow – a condition similar to autism – Anna found herself feeling guilty. She wondered if they had somehow caused their son’s issues.
“Did we let him use too many electronics? Did we feed him too much sugar?”
Their pediatrician directed them to a therapy center that turned out to be very helpful. In just a few short months, they’ve seen significant improvements in their son. A speech therapist works with Isaiah on his language development, and an occupational therapist helps him with processing and responding to his physical environment.
As they work with these therapists on a weekly basis, Anna says the sessions are just what the whole family needed.
“From talking to other moms in the waiting room, to the therapy Isaiah receives, I’m so thankful we found the resources we need to help our son thrive.”
In particular, Anna has noticed a recent trend of Isaiah playing nicely with other kids. More important, the other children also seem to enjoy the interactions. While daily life still presents its challenges, taking those initial steps to address Isaiah’s needs has allowed Anna to set aside her guilt and uncertainty while focusing on the life God has given her with her son.
“I’m learning to not compare myself with other moms,” she says. “Instead, I’m choosing to appreciate the way God is working in Isaiah’s life and in my own heart to grow each of us in ways that are honoring to the Lord.”
Dawn Vargo is a wife and mother of two young children, one of whom was born with a rare, and often fatal, congenital birth defect.