Wanted: A Diagnosis for My Son

By Gundry, Mary | The Exceptional Parent, November-December 1989 | Go to article overview

Wanted: A Diagnosis for My Son


Gundry, Mary, The Exceptional Parent


Sometimes I wish my son had cerebral palsy, or Down syndrome something definite and preferably a little visible. That thought bothers me a lot and makes me feel pretty guilty. Face it, it is rather unsettling for a mother to wish a disability on her child. Why would anyone want that? After a lot of deliberate thought and soul-searching, I have come to the conclusion that such thoughts stem from a deep desperation for answers and also for relief of the gnawing guilt that is eating away at my family.

My son, Allan, now almost five, is a beautiful boy. Born after a relatively tough pregnancy and delivery, he was a normal, healthy - but somewhat quiet - infant. At eight months, an accident left him with a fractured left leg bone. He seemed to recuperate from this completely. At ten months, he had an ear infection with a high fever from which he likewise seemed to recover. Then at fourteen months, he was the victim of a widespread salmonella food poisoning outbreak. He suffered from severe diarrhea and a high fever complicated by strep throat. After nearly a week, he began to improve. Life began to return to normal.

At his regular fifteen month check-up, our nightmare began. His pediatrician, while conducting a routine developmental screening, suggested Allan have some testing due to his lack of speech development. At eighteen months, a comprehensive psychological, sociological, audiological, and speech evaluation was done. He showed only a mild delay in the area of speech for which a home program was prescribed.

At two years, Allan's list of problems expanded and included an "attention deficit disorder" and possible emotional disturbance. At this time, an orthopedist also noted Allan's toe-walking and unsteady gait. By two and a half, Allan had begun having seizures - both grand mal and psychomotor, with and without fever.

At three and a half, on the basis of a neuropsychological examination, Allan was diagnosed as having a pervasive developmental delay complicated by a seizure disorder. He also demonstrated some autistic tendencies. Some of his recent test scores have now dipped into the mildly mentally retarded range. Each day brings new challenges to meet and new worries to overcome. It is hard to know what will happen next.

Allan has been in a preschool program with therapy five days a week since he was barely two. …

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