Today, I made a friend.
For anyone who lives abroad, making friends can be tricky.
More so, for anyone who has a special needs or slightly different kind of kid - making friends is rare.
And by "friends", I mean people who truly get where you're coming from because they've been in your shoes before.
If you're wondering why I haven't been blogging lately - I've been swamped. Just genuinely exhausted yet having a blast with my work practice at the same time.
It's a full-time 9 weeks work practice at a college campus where we prep food for the students and staff (over 1500 people on any given week day), bake and cook food to sell to the public in the connected student shop and also handle catering orders!
Last week, was a rough one as I spent most of my week at the children's neurological clinic getting A-Man assessed.
He was assessed last October for two days and was given the temporary diagnosis of SLI (Specific Language Impairment).
This round was a 4-days long assessment ending with a doctor's appointment and the doctor telling us that she cannot offer a proper diagnosis for A-Man.
However, what we originally suspected - that A-Man is doing awesome because his speech is getting better and he's trying really hard to pronounce words and so on - turns out that he has more than a language issue.
He now has a visual issue as well.
By "visual", I mean the psychologist and speech and occupational therapists tried to give him something to mimic or imitate from a picture and he couldn't or didn't do very well for a child his age.
Like a jigsaw puzzle - look at the photo and try to build it.
Like special blocks where you look at the picture and have to make the same shape or design with them.
Like whenever his sleeves or pant legs are inside out and he refuses to fix it himself...and I feel horrible because I was trying to get him to do it himself...and it turns out he simply couldn't figure it out...and wasn't being lazy!
They've listed his speech and comprehension to be at less than half his age. He'll be 5 this autumn and he was listed as about a 2-year old in various sections.
They don't suspect it's autism and the doctor explained that they believe when he doesn't listen, despite repeating his name or instructions, or trying to get his attention multiple times - it's just that simply his brain is exhausted.
It just blocks us out and takes a rest pretty much.
Because he has to spend so much brain energy on translating things in his head or trying to figure it out - it's overwhelming and poof. His mind takes a nap.
As you can imagine, Hubster and I were floored and I am impressed that I held off my tears of frustration and self hate until I got home.
To top it off, this appointment was yesterday - my 1-year death-versary of my dog, Blue...so I was a hot mess anyway.
We are trying to take it a step at a time but he will not be assessed again for another 18-months to see if another year or so will give his body and brain time to catch up, since he's made huge leaps and bounds the past year with his own speech.
Of course, it is not perfect and there are many sounds he simply cannot pronounce - but we've been having less fights for the most part because he's able to express what he wants.
This is also another reason why they can't give him a proper assessment, because his English was so much better than his Finnish and the tests were conducted in Finnish (and some English tossed in) and because he's still quite young to get an official diagnosis.
So to round that chunk of a blog post off, he will be getting occupational therapy to help build his visual skills and continue with speech therapy.
He will be starting pre-school as soon as possible, and starting school earlier - so this way he can hopefully graduate at the same time as his peers his age.
Onto happier news!!
I have a new friend!
She's this lovely little Chinese lady in my work practice and after speaking to the second Chinese lady (also lovely) about my kids - found out that first little Chinese lady has a child on the spectrum too. I think more Asperger's but still!
And he's 15.
We were making potato bread (mashed potatoes, eggs and flour then roll/flatten, pierce with a fork and bake) and after some quick Chinese between the two, the little one asked me if my son was autistic.
I smiled and said yes and described the V-Man to her and her eyes are pretty wide already but they got bigger and her smile lit the room.
It's then that we had a connection. A bond that only two people can have after having gone to the special needs trenches and back.
And then I realized that she probably doesn't have friends with a special needs kid like hers - so that made it extra special. She began to whoop and jump up and down and high-five me like crazy, as we exchanged some stories in Finnish quickly.
I love my friends, I really do and I've gotten pickier over who I'm friends with to be honest.
But my friends that truly know what it's like to care for a kid that's not part of the neurotypical scale - whether it's their own or part of their job - they're an extra special bunch and they're the kind of friends that no matter where you are, you're there for each other.
It's just wonderful to have one more friend here that gets it.
They get the exhaustion, the frustration, the screams and tears and the fears and nightmares of raising a kid like the V-Man (and A-Man).
They don't judge, they actually want you to visit with your family and they're just as relieved to know they're not alone.
Today, I made a friend.