Things people say

Me (before diagnosis): "I'm a bit concerned about Bright Eyes. He doesn't seem to be speaking much compared to his sister at the same age."

Friend: "Really? He's probably just a bit slow. All kids develop at their own pace. You know Einstein didn't speak until he was like, six or something. Anyway, he's a boy. Boys are always slower than girls."

This is a conversation I had over and over again in the year or so before Bright Eyes was diagnosed.

There are a few reasons for this typical response which I got from most people I talked to.

1. They wanted to make me feel better.
2. No-one wants to acknowledge that any child might have something wrong with them because it feels uncomfortable and scary.
3. They didn't have time or interest to get involved in my worry.
4. They wouldn't know what to do if there really was a problem.

Number 1 is the nicest reason, and I'm sure it was behind the vast majority of responses I got to my concerns. But if I'm honest, I think I have been guilty of thinking numbers 2, 3 and 4 at various times in my own life.

However, even though reason number 1 comes out of kind intentions, it basically shuts down the person who is expressing their concerns. For more than a year, I was really really concerned about Bright Eyes, but I found hardly anyone willing to listen or to acknowledge that there might be a problem, so keen were they to make me feel better about it.

I have personally learned from this. If I hear a parent express worry about their child now, I ask questions about it.

"How long have you been worried about it? What do you think you might do about it? What would ease your mind about it?" And I encourage them to take the child to a paediatrician who will listen to them and take them seriously.