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What the Doctors Had Wrong About My Son

What the Doctors Had Wrong About My Son

By the time my firstborn son George was two years old, I knew that something was wrong. George had a functional vocabulary of less than ten words and he was hardly doing any of the things listed in all of those developmental checklists. When I spoke to my family doctor about it, he gave me the standard line: "All children develop at different rates, and boys reach milestones later than girls."

After listening to this for a year, I had had enough. I parked myself in the doctor's office and told him I wasn't leaving until I had a referral for a developmental assessment. The doctor must have realized that I would have been quite prepared to sit in that chair gathering dust, because he gave me the referral with only a minimum of fuss.

Six weeks later, I sat in another doctor's office receiving the results of the assessment.


I had suspected this for a while, but hearing it actually said was a dreadful experience. Especially when the doctor followed it up with his prognosis for the future.


By all indications, George was going to have severe cognitive impairment for his whole life. His capacity for learning was very limited. He would probably never learn how to read or write, his behavioral issues might escalate to the point of endangering his little brother, and he was not likely to ever have a career or live independently.

The doctor pointed out that because George was not even pointing - a skill that most kids learned in infancy - he was not likely to develop more sophisticated ways of communicating, like speech and meaningful gestures.

For a couple of hours, I was numb with shock. And then, after a good solid crying bout, I found some resolve. I was not going to let the doctor tell me what kind of life my child was going to have. I was not going to let anybody tell me not to expect anything of my child. I was absolutely not going to give up on my child without even trying.

So what if George couldn't point? I would teach him.


The following day, I went to the bookstore and bought a book featuring the only thing George had ever shown any interest in: Bob the Builder. When I got home from work, I curled up with George on my bed, opened the book, and started reading. As George looked at the pictures, I gently said to him, "Point to Bob the Builder."

George didn't move, so I took his hand in mine, and guided his index finger to the picture of Bob the Builder.

"Show me Dizzy," I said. Same result from George, same reinforcement from me.

We went through all of the characters like this, with me naming them, George failing to point, and me manipulating his hand into the right shape and making him point.

The next night, we did it all over again.

And the night after that.

And the night after that, and after that, and after that.

There were nights when I didn't want to bother, when it felt as if I was wasting my time and accomplishing nothing. But I didn't give up. I kept telling myself that the only way George was guaranteed to not succeed would be if I stopped trying.

One night, eleven months after that first night with George and Bob the Builder, I sat down on my bed with child and book as usual. I was feeling drained and overwhelmed. I stifled a sigh and opened the book. Wearily, I said to George, "Show me Bob the Builder."

Automatically I started lifting my hand to help George point, but to my amazement, he started moving his hand himself. I hardly dared to breathe as George raised his hand. For a moment he just held it aloft and looked at it as if wondering what to do. Then, with agonizing slowness, he curled his little fingers into a fist, extended his index finger, and tentatively touched the picture of Bob the Builder.

To say that I cried a little would be like saying Noah and his ark got caught in a bit of rain. I sobbed as I hugged my child, who was probably wondering what all the fuss was about.

I jumped off the bed and ran to my husband, who looked a bit frightened by the sight of my mascara-streaked face.

"What's the matter with you?" he asked.

"George puh-puh-pointed!" I said, and ran back to the hero of the day.

That triumph turned out to be the first of many. Since that day, George has defied the doctor's predictions almost every day. Yes, he has autism, and yes, there are certain challenges he will live with all his life. But he is jam-packed with potential, and I am excited to see where his life will take him.

Image Source: Courtesy of Kirsten Doyle

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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JadeCarmody JadeCarmody 5 years
Im so proud of you and of your son and I don't even know you! You made me teary with your honesty, strength, love and determination. I hope that your son gets everything his heart desires. And Im sure you will be backing him all the way! :-)
HeatherRath65995 HeatherRath65995 5 years
So amazing!! Good for him! :) This just goes to show you should never underestimate a mother and children are truely amazing!
AmyRittle AmyRittle 5 years
Good for you for not giving up!! Doctors are human, even though most won't admit it, you are your child's biggest advocate! Never give up!
AshleighSpencer AshleighSpencer 5 years
And ignore the gramatical errors lol. I just woke up :-P
theresaMinecci theresaMinecci 5 years
The strength of a mother is immeasurable. God bless you and George .
MelissaJones34209 MelissaJones34209 5 years
What a great story. My son suffers from CP and i can relate to a lot that you stated in your article. No matter what obsticles are in their way... The biggest is a parent not trying everything possible for their child! You definetly sound like you did and are continuing to do that. :)
GabrielaToro GabrielaToro 5 years
i would be lying if i said i didnt cry. this story is very touching. you are a wonderful mom and George was blessed with u as a mom. you didnt give up.
The-Domestic-Life-Stylist The-Domestic-Life-Stylist 5 years
God bless you Kirsten. Thank you for sharing your journey and your persistence.
AmberChamplin54096 AmberChamplin54096 5 years
What a beautiful mother, full of determination, and a love that no other could match!!!! Your grace and persistence gives other mothers the strength to do the same. Congratulations on what promises to be just the first of many accomplishments. Your son could not ask for a more powerful mother :)
RhionnaHerbert RhionnaHerbert 5 years
I was told exactly the same thing as you. I have to say that Dr's can be soooo wrong if a parent is prepared to put in the time. I was told my son was unlikely to speak, and yes it is poor (he sounds like a 9month old, but is 5) but he now has some words car, bubble, go and makes lots of babbling sounds. He said his first word on Christmas eve 2011, and then gave me the best present in the world when he called me "mamma bear" on Mother's day. We know our kids better than anyone and when they manage to do something for the first time it allows us to see how much potential they have inside we just have to figure out how to help them show it. Keep doin what you're doin 'cause it's workin!
CoMMember13630002390622 CoMMember13630002390622 5 years
The love of a mother never diminishes, even when exhaustion is on the horizon.
aniaschietzelt aniaschietzelt 5 years
This story just made me cry. Mothers are the best creatures that walk this earth
RebeccaBoss RebeccaBoss 5 years
As a mother you can never (and will never) give up on your child. Our love is what made them and our love is what guides them through life. It's a beautiful story, thank you for sharing.
RachelDowling RachelDowling 5 years
Bravo, Kirsten. Your story of your love and faith in your son brought tears. Your patience, persistence, and devotion is clearly paying off. Bravo for refusing to let George be put into a box. I admire your tenacity.
Holley2680089 Holley2680089 5 years
I love this story! so inspiring! I have never dealt with this, but I know this just shows God's power and love to help this family get through it. This boy's live will be an encouragement and insperation to all those who encounter him and see his triumphs! How truly amazing the power of love is!
ReneeCampbellCarrillo ReneeCampbellCarrillo 5 years
I am the mom of 6 and one of my precious gifts has Autism ( he is three) I listen to what every body says but I know with his family and God he can function in life he was here for an extraordinary reason and I am here to help guide him and help him along his path. I as a mother do not have my head in the clouds about his diagnosis but I am also not going to put limits on him because limits are surpassed everyday and he will to surpass his and I don't want to be his hinder.
KatieDecato51885 KatieDecato51885 5 years
AWESOME !! Story. Reminds me of my son Ryan who also has austim and sounds like your George. I was told by a teacher that Ryan would NEVER read and write or anything. Well he is in special ed at a public school and he is doing GOOD!! Kicking BUTT in computers and he LOVES music. He watches Old MacDonalds farm and just last night he was singing in his own way EIEIO!!!!
JenniferKontonasakis JenniferKontonasakis 5 years
Good for you Mama!! He may never have learned that without your persistence, you have changed your son's life and will continue to do so!
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