Here’s an important lesson for parents of children with developmental disorders: when a psychologist tells you what your kid’s future will be like, it shouldn’t be taken as a definite fact.
Take it from me, a man with Asperger’s Syndrome. When I was a boy, my mother was told that I had an IQ of 65 and would be institutionalized as an adult.
Right now I’m living independently and have a successful career as a writer. Kelcey Kintner’s son, Cash, could easily achieve the same level of success or higher.
In June, a child psychologist’s diagnosis had Kintner questioning everything she knew. Yet she now knows that Cash’s future is full of possibilities.
Kelcey Kintner’s son, Cash, has a developmental delay.
Happy 3rd Bday to my insane, crazy cute Cash London. He celebrated in NYC by figuring out how to get out of a car seat…
By the time Kintner and her husband, Rick, had Cash, they weren’t exactly strangers to parenthood. He was their fifth kid!
Having raised other children before, they knew what normal childhood development was supposed to look like and that Cash didn’t quite fit the bill. That’s why learning that he had developmental delays was not a huge shock for them.
They never saw their son’s idiosyncrasies as bad things. In fact, they embraced them.
“[Cash] likes to go into random stores so he can ‘smell the breeze,’” Kintner wrote on her blog, The Mama Bird Diaries. “He’d rather spent a half hour inspecting a centipede than do whatever you think he should be doing.”
He would also sit himself down next to total strangers at restaurants, just to say hello. Kintner describes this behavior and others like it as “aggressively friendly.” Yet one psychologist described him as something else entirely.
They met with a developmental psychologist who gave a disturbing assessment of his future.
It was in June when Kintner and Cash had their fourth meeting with this psychologist as part of an assessment for a psycho-educational evaluation.
Kintner had hoped that this would give insight as to how Cash processes information. She hoped this would help speech and occupational therapists tailor their sessions more to his needs.
What she got instead was a bunch of psychologist jargon about “global developmental delays” and “borderline intellectual functioning.”
Then the psychologist started talking about Cash’s future, which is where the conversation went from confusing went to distressing.
“She talked about limits and ‘altering our expectations’ to the reality of his situation,” Kintner wrote. “She was definitive and convincing.”
Somehow, Kintner managed to hold back tears throughout that entire meeting but, as she walked over to the car, she started sobbing.
As she looked more and more into it, she realized that Cash’s future might not be so grim after all.
Cash, me and the biggest PUPPY in Manhattan. (Cash wants you to know it's very sunny.)Photo credit: Isabel Kallman
Over the next few days, Kintner and Rick sent the psychologist’s report to various other professionals including speech therapists, occupational therapists, and pediatricians. They all essentially said the same thing: “there is hope for your boy.”
At just five years old, the ability to predict what Cash will and won’t be able to accomplish in the years beyond is practically nonexistent. That psychologist provided a worst-case scenario, one that could be turned around if given proper care.
They told Kintner that they had seen enormous progress in Cash and that she was doing the right thing, by intervening early. She was still a bit shaken by all this but, she knew that there was hope.
Cash has proven time and time again that he’s capable of incredible things.
On a trip to New York, he made it his mission to pet every dog in Manhattan. During a delay at the airport, he convinced a stranger to teach him the ukulele.
Kintner knew her son was incredible and wished that the child psychologist evaluating him could have seen that.
“I guess in the end, I was most saddened by this woman’s limited view of my son,” Kintner wrote. “I hope one day that doctor is sitting in a restaurant, just waiting for her food.
“I hope Cash bounds over to her and sits down. I hope she finds out what it feels like to be the center of his universe, even for a few minutes.”
With a child as unique as Cash, Kintner has no idea what the future has in store for him, but she believes that, whatever he wants to do, he’ll do it because that’s just the kind of boy Cash is!