8 answers

Babysitting Child with Developmental Delays, and His Parents Are in Denial...

I recently started doing some childcare in my home for a couple of neighbors. One little boy in particular is almost 4 and a half, and based on everything I knew already and have read up on, he has very classic signs of autism. When I was first introduced to this child (at their house), his parents told me that he was just very shy, and maybe in need of speech therapy (they were thinking about it). Well, I know children act differently when they first meet someone, but I could tell right away when this child entered my home that he had serious delays. He doesn't make eye contact, looks away, covers his eyes, won't respond to his name, doesn't engage in conversation, plays by himself in the corner, fixates on certain parts of an odd single toy. Can say words, but then spends a lot of time groping in his mouth, toe walks, etc...He is not disruptive, but does make huge messes, and I have continued to care for him. What bothers me is that his parents seem to be in denial. His father refers to him as happy go lucky, and told me just yesterday that he had been asked to leave 3 different day care facilities because he wouldn't "conform" to the rules. The dad thinks he just has too much mind of his own and shouldn't be subjected to the "little soldier" mentality of daycare. I have gently stressed the speech therapy hoping they will take him for an evaluation and be properly informed and guided. I feel this child could make great advancements given the proper therapy and care. Do I say anything else to these parents, or continue caring for the child as if he doesn't have special needs and keep my mouth shut? I am at a loss, because I know this child needs help. His mom told me yesterday that at his 4 year old well check, the doctor was concerned, but she just thinks he is shy around new people and places. My heart hurts for this child. Any advice welcome, I just want to do the right thing for him. Thanks in advance!

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Hi A.-

As the parent of a child with mild autism I can relate to both the parents as well as you. As a parent, I was in denial for a long time about my son's condition. Obviously, we did finally have him evaluated and his diagnosis was confirmed when he was 4 1/2 years old. Do I wish we had gotten him help sooner? ABSOLUTELY! If a daycare provider had said anything would I have done anything sooner? I'm not sure...

Here's my suggestion...do you provide a daily sheet detailing his activities for the day? If so, make sure you are specifically addressing the issues that you noted above each day. If they are seeing the description that you provided above being repeated daily, they may take notice of it. Don't sugar coat things! We used to ask the daycare provider everyday, "did he play with anyone today? did he talk more today?" and she would say he's warming up slowly, or he seems more comfortable, things like that. If the parents ask, tell them the honest truth. Lastly, if you feel comfortable just ask the mom sometime "have you ever considered having him evaluated for a developmental delay?" Don't use the word Autism! It scares the you know what out of parents and it will delay them even more. If she is interested in an evaluation she can call the school district to be evaluated by them and then she should also find a developmental pediatrician or child psychologist who can diagnose delays.

Good Luck,
K.

3 moms found this helpful

Bless you, A.. The world is better off for people like you! I think you did the right thing stressing speech therapy. Maybe they don't spend enough time around other children to see the difference? I don't know how you could possibly mention to them that you fear autism (in part becasue though you may be correct, no one wants to hear it from a non-professional, especially if they are already in denial.)

Perhaps you could say to them that you adore him and love taking care of him but the ways in which he is "different" from other children concerns you. If parents used the words that the doctors said, try ot echo theirs and suggest again that they try speech therapy. Maybe phrase it by telling them that their child feels uncomfortable and you are worried for his happiness. You might even search for a therapist and make a "reccomendation" to them. Maybe having a phone number in hand will be the little push they need.

You can look up Autism services in San Anotnio and talk to a professional, see what they suggest you do.

The thing is, they probably worry about his behavior constantly. They're probably scared out of their minds. Do stress that you don't want him removed from your care.

Bless you. Good luck.

A.,
My heart aches for you. This is a terrible spot to be in. BUT I think your loyalty is to the child. I would invite the parents to a play date with 2 other 4 yr olds. They need to see what "normal" looks like and come to their own conclusions. They will block out what you tell them, but I imagine they will be blown away when they see the descrepancy between what their boy does and what the others do. As he knows you and knows the other 2 kids, there is no "shy around strangers" excuse. When they try to point out that the other kids are behaving strangly, tell them that in your experience they are behaving normally. If you print out one of those behavior charts from a child care book and have it handy that would help. The Sears have one I am sure.
One of the posters points out that it may strain your relationship, but the fact is that you kept the boy when 3 other places rejected him. I think this gives you credibility with the parents and above all, every day he is not in some treatment program is a day lost for his improvement. That seems to me to be cruel.
If you have the same pediatrician, or you can find out the number of theirs, call insist on speaking to him/her, not the receptionist and tell himher what you told us. Gets you out of the middle, but seeing the contrast would help the parents to take any advice they subsequently get.
Good luck, I admire your ability to do all you do and still have time to love and advocate for the difficult child.
K.

They say that he is shy around new people and they may very well be, but you are no longer new to him. I would do what was already suggested and arrange a play date. They need to see that there is something going on, and their son needs help. He could advance so much with the proper care. Also, dad needs to understand that the "little soldier" rules are not there to make his son only do what others want him to do. They are there to ensure that his son and everyone involved is safe and unharmed. It doesn't matter where they go, there are rules. Dad is going to have great issues to deal with if they do not take care of everything now. School districts are require to call CPS if they think a student is in an environment that is good for the child/children in the home. Once the child is old enough for school, he will have to follow the rules and teachers will suggest testing for special needs. If they parents do not comply, the state will get involved.

Some people are just so wrapped up in their own world until it is to late to help the child. We have an adopted special needs child, and he has been in therapy since at least 9 months, and he is in his teens now. He has severe issues and is on medication. If these parents could just make one trip to a sepecial education department of a school and see what can occur when parents have neglected their children because of their on selfish reason, they would get an eye opening. The sooner someone advises these parents of what they are doing to their child, the better. The sooner they seek professional help the better for the child. They need to realize they are harming the child, and have they ever thought about what is going to happen as he gets older. He will be put in special ed as soon as he starts to school, and trust me, if you do not get the right school district it is a tough. There are so many special ed children now until there are not enough trained teachers and aids. It is tragic, but some people just do not like to admit they have a child that needs professional help until it is to late. These parents have to know that therapy is very time consuming and they are going to have to be willing to take the child, and if they think the child will get what he needs in school, they are wrong, not enough hours in the day for the teachers in public school.

i think you are heading for trouble if you say anything - if he is being evaluated by a doctor, then he is already in the "loop" so to speak, if the docotr is concerned they will send him for more tests. if you want to keep caring for the child then do it, but dont try and diagnose something that may not be there. the parents are probably aware in their heart that something is different about their child, and will not like you telling them there is something wrong with him - they will probably get angry and remove him from your care. or they may already know that he is autistic/aspergers/ADHD or whatever but are just trying to immerse him in a normal lifestyle to see if that will help.
if you think he may endanger your other children, or himself while in your care, or you think you are unqualified to care for a child like him then you should say that you cannot care for him any more, and then you could explain your concerns if you like. but be prepared for the backlash, and if they are neighbors, for strained neighborly relations.
its one of those no win kind of situations, i think childcare is one of the hardest things to do, as you get attatched and involved with the children - i admire you, i couldnt do it!

They already know something is wrong. Maybe not at 3 they didn't, but they definitely know now. Tell them that you know of a great facility for his 'speech therapy' if they are interested. It is Christus St. John's Sports and Rehabilitation Medicine, ####-###-####. Let THEM tell him he is autistic. But if he goes there, they will encompass him and the family and help them. He belongs there, not at some children's therapy center.

A.,

This is a tough place to be in. I went through something similar with my brother. My little niece obviously had some autistic tendencies. My brother and sister-in-law were totally in denial about it. She was their first born, so they really didn't have another child to compare her to. Eventually my mom had a heart to heart with my brother and they got her tested and she got some therapy that has really helped her. Her diagnosis was Aspergers ( I may not be spelling that right). But she has really improved.

I think it is your duty to mention something to the parents in a loving manner. The earlier he gets help, the more functional he could becomoe.

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