May 13, 2013 0 Share

Becoming the Ultimate Hunter / Warrior

Close-up of woman warrior aiming arrow.

First published September 12, 2011.

Imagine a video game that takes you into an enchanted forest filled with charms, potions and magic weapons enabling you to save your kingdom from the evil villain. But be careful! If you choose the wrong tool to aid your journey, a greedy leprechaun will steal your pot of gold, and you might not be able to rebuild the treasure needed to finish your quest. It may sound like fun in the virtual world but when you apply this scenario to finding treatment for a child with special needs, those leprechauns are sometimes unavoidable. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to help my son conquer his challenges, so I jumped right into the midst of the game, becoming a Hunter/Warrior version of myself, looking for the silver bullet that would magically make him “normal.”

Despite being a rather skeptical consumer, something always pulls at my maternal emotions when I'm presented with an opportunity to help my son. We tried a variety of silver bullets: ADD medication (which caused shortness of breath), music therapy (to decrease noise sensitivity by stimulating the hairs in the inner ear), allergen-free diet (that was unbelievably restrictive), vision therapy (forcing him to stare at 3-D pictures until his eyes crossed), one-to-one intensive reading tutoring (with no guarantees, but gains could be as much as two academic years in eight short weeks) ... and the list goes on. If there had been a home shopping network for this stuff, I would've watched 24/7, and been bankrupt. By no means am I saying that all silver bullets are a waste of money. There was some good with all of them that we tried, and a few therapies here and there made a huge difference. But it's really difficult as a parent to separate the emotion from the marketing. If it's “all that,” shouldn't it be affordable to everyone, and/or, dare I say it, covered by insurance?

My Hunter/Warrior skills can be called into action at unexpected times. I actually overheard a woman sitting behind me on a transatlantic flight say that she was an Education Diagnostician and lived in the next city from us. My Hunter/Warrior instincts took over and I popped up over the back of my seat, like a Jack-in-the-Box, and practically landed in her lap. I needed to get this woman’s contact details so that I could get referrals to OT’s and SLP’s in my area! (Yes, I’ll return my seat to its upright position and stow my tray table … but this woman knows people I need to get in touch with!)

Another use for those Hunter/Warrior skills is trying to find someone or something to blame.

The finger pointing that absolves my gene pool from possibly contributing to the issues my son faces. Surely it's all his dad's fault! Then I think back to beach vacations with my son when he was a toddler and how he would absolutely freak out when his feet touched sand. Truth be told, I'm rather obsessive about avoiding sand myself. Could the sensory integration issues by my fault? And what about ADD? Just today, I was heating up a can of chicken noodle soup for my daughter's lunch, and went upstairs for one thing (which I can't remember now…and couldn't then!) and ended up partially doing five other things. Of course there was no soup in the pot when I went back to the kitchen. Only something resembling wallpaper paste and smelling of burned chicken. Is distractibility hereditary? Did I make my son this way? Did I eat the wrong foods, breathe the wrong air, do something I shouldn't have or not do something I should have done when I was pregnant? At this point in time, of course there're really no answers to any of the above. That doesn’t necessarily preclude me from wagging the finger of blame.

I'll admit, even after 16 years in the game, I still haven't quite hung up my hunting gear. But I feel my experience has given me better tools to assess the field. Yes, I still get a little adrenaline rush when I come across something that looks promising. I just spend a lot more time assessing those opportunities, and am less inclined to sell body parts to pay for them.