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How do I talk to a colleague about her DD's development.(41 Posts)
I work with a woman who has known my husband since school. We see them socially quite a lot and our kids play together, but I wouldn't call her a close friend.
They have a daughter who is 19 months old, a year younger than my youngest child. It's very clear that their DD is not developing at a normal rate. She can't walk, stand, pull herself up. She has no speech at all. She can't grip small objects or bring a sippy cup to her mouth. Her hands are slightly claw like and she can't clap. She gets extremely frustrated when she tries to communicate. She dribbles a lot. Her body is very stiff. When she falls she doesn't put her hands out to stop herself. She is often vacant and glassy eyed.
My colleague talks about the walking issue a lot but has not been to a GP as she says she "doesn't trust them". Instead she is seeing some kind of Pediatric Chiropractor regarding the walking (and the walking alone)
She has started to become angry and frustrated with her child and it's heartbreaking to see. She seems to genuinely resent her DD.
She is senior to me at work ans quite a lot older and we don't have the kind of relationship where I feel I could have a heart to heart with her, I also do not want to come across as judgemental at all. She is a fantastic Mum but I think she is in a very deep state of denial and possibly depression too.
We saw them socially this weekend and I left in tears as I am genuinely concerned about their daughter and their attitude towards her needs. My husband doesn't feel comfortable bringing it up with the husband either.
What should I do?
I feel awful even writing this and really don't want to sound interfering or judgemental. If I were her I'd want a close friend to talk to me about it, but I'm not that person to her and I don't know her close circle of friends well enough.
Looking forward to your words of wisdom.
I should think it's highly unlikely she doesn't realise her child is delayed if she can neither walk or talk at 18 months. How is she managing to fall if she can't get up .
What is it you want her to do?
What "judgement" are you worried she will think you have made?
I know, it's hard to believe isn't it? And yet she genuinely doesn't seem to acknowledge any of the delays other than the walking.
She falls say, for example, if she pushes her walker too quickly and she loses grip. Or if she's sat on the sofa and reaches out for something. But she doesn't seem to have the reflex to put her hands out so falls flat on her face.
I guess I want her to go to the GP and talk to them about her DD's development. I'd also like her to see someone about her own frame of mind as like I say, she seems to be very angry and frustrated.
I'm worried she'll think I'm criticising her parenting or somehow coming across like I "know it all" - I absolutely don't and would be the first to say so.
Thankyou for responding to me, it's good to question my own feelings.
How do you know she hasn't raised concerns with health professionals?
It would be really unusual to discuss it with a colleague. Lots of people don't even discuss with close friends or family.
Does the baby go to nursery?
I think it's lovely that you are concerned for your colleagues child. I'm don't really understand what the concern IS though.
You say Mum is snappy/impatient but lots of Mums are. I'm not sure what that has to do with your concerns about the babies development?
Does your own dc have SN of any sort? If so it may be easier to broach the subject, eg by introducing it through a current situation or problem or something (even eg "God been trying to get paed appt its s nightmare").
If not, I'd stay well clear and say nothing. You have no idea how concerned she is or what she's doing about it. I was a year down the line of diagnosis and even starting therapy for my ds before I talked about it even to my own family. Some friends I didn't tell about his diagnosis (ASD) for years. Maybe they were worrying themselves sick about my apparent denial/lack of action <shrug > so what? I had bigger issues to deal with than make extra time to explain the ins and outs of it with everyone I knew. It's also a very very private thing - your friend may be devastated and worried herself, and the last thing she might want is to voice those fears out loud. Especially to a friend with a comparable but NT daughter (must rub it in for her). Be patient - if she wants to come to you for support give her time, just be there for her if she needs it. She's clearly doing something by seeing a chiropractor - I'd guess he/she would be quite well placed to suggest further investigations if necessary.
I know she hasn't seen any other health specialists because she's told me so. Her husband has also told my husband (they are old friends) and has told a few other people we know mutually. She says she doesn't "trust" GP's. I suppose they could by lying but somehow I doubt it, they're the kind of people who tell everyone everything.
Her behaviour has changed hugely in the past 6 months. She's not just snappy, she's permenantely angry - I haven't heard her say one positive thing about her child in months. She wasn't like that in her first year of motherhood.
My concern is that she is severely depressed (maybe a delayed form of antenatal depression?) and is in denial about her daughters development. And as a result is not seeking the help that her daughter might need.
What would you do? Do you think I should just keep my nose out?
If your DH is old friends with her DH maybe it would be easier for him to mention it?
But if not, I'd keep out tbh. She may be in denial and needs to come to it in her own time.
Thankyou @bialystockandbloom, that is really good to hear. No none of my children have SN which is why I'm seeking advice here. I have no idea how I'd handle it.
The very last thing I'd want is to add any extra burden. I just care about her and her family.
That's one of my concerns, along with her daughters development @zzzzz
Thankyou @CassandraAusten - my DH has said he will speak to him, if we really think it's the right thing to do.
By the sounds of it and all this great advice I think we should just stay out of it and be there if they come to us.
Does she go to nursery? If so, I'd back off as if there is anything wrong the nursery should recognise it and have protocols in place.
If not maybe broach the subject by asking if she's had her 18m check?
Or reverse psychology- not walking and talking isn't unusual at 18m, perhaps pointing out that the paeds Chiro might not be necessary as she still has time to catch up, and you're sure there's nothing wrong.
Mind, if the paeds Chiro is any good they should have picked up on something and referred her back to medics. Maybe ask what they said and if they have referred her for x-rays MRi's in case it's something simple like hips?
No she's not at nursery, it's grandparents and she/ her DH work 3/4 days so look after DD themselves too.
Thankyou all for the great advice X
So they all know her very well. Nursery can be good because the practitioners know where a child should be and have seen everything from accelerated development to delayed, but things can get lost in the shuffle, and hands in parents no grandparents are likely to be very useful.
Regardless of if the child IS delayed or the mother depressed, there isn't a "fix" as such.
i dont think she sounds ready to hear it tbh. I wouldnt talk about her about your concerns about her child tbh, shes only a collegue, not a close friend, and tbh, when people voiced concerns about my firstborn, i didnt want to hear it, even though he later got a diagnosis, but if shes already depressed and anxious, you wont be doing her any favours, although, you could talk to her about how youre worried she might be depressed
I was discussing this with my friends a few days ago lol. My son has high functioning autism and I found out at 4 years old when nursery pointed it out as he was completely different at home to nursery, I wish I knew earlier for many reasons.
Others on the other hand were saying why would u want to find out if ur child is delayed etc from such a young age when all will be revealed later on so there are different opinions.
Personally I think early intervention is key and kids come on leaps and bounds. Why would u want to wait till nursery/school age if the signs are staring u in the face?
As for your colleague i think it's a bit difficult to tell her. I have a friend who's son is missing important milestones I can't bring myself to say a thing. I maybe once said something like have u asked the health visitor about a concern she was sharing with me.
If she's looked after by family I wonder if they have noted and mentioned things? It could be why she is angry? Maybe she feels pressured into seeking more help than she has and she needs time to process the information from outside parties.
One way in would be to ask questions as mentioned above to get information she's sharing.
So if she says she's seeing pead chiropractor ask what they've suggested and ask if they have any ideas of why her DD is not walking. It may be the pead chiro has mentioned something and they is also why she's stressed.
It's not easy knowing something is not right but not having any idea what could be wrong iyswim? She probably needs a kind shocker and a friend to talk yo ethane than people telling her yo seek help ATM.
A lot of people who don't trust doctors are actually scared of what they'll say.
So if she says she's seeing pead chiropractor ask what they've suggested and ask if they have any ideas of why her DD is not walking.
I really don't think it's OPs business . Seriously if you'd done that to me I would have been furious. I understand OP is worried but she barely knows this woman. Why on earth should she be probing for information?
If guess that's where everyone is different. I often say "DS has been to see X today about y". If I told someone I wouldnt be offended if they then asked if they had an useful advice about the reason I went.
I would probably say nothing. I fully understand why are concerned but she is a senior colleague and you don't have the kind of friendly relationship. I'd stay out as hard as it is.
maybe leave it to the DHs as they seem to be close.
In any case, the little girl will have a 2 year check up which should flag it up if she is indeed delayed.
Besides, if you think the little girl will get lots of help once she is seen by the NHS - it probably won't happen (I have a severely autistic 8 year old with various developmental delays and I can tell you that you get next to nothing).
Well yes youare we DO all have different boundaries I suppose. I guess I don't understand why developmental delay is worthy of any more "input" from a junior colleague than say a birth mark or a squint? Why does it require further probing? Why is the mother "in denial" because she doesn't discuss it with OP ? Why is it possibly linked to depression/angry parenting?
If there's more to the answer to these questions than an underlying idea that "something must be done to make the baby keep up" or "its developmental so must be linked to poor parenting" then that's pertinent but otherwise I think OP possibly unintentionally is being extraordinarily intrusive.
Thankyou all for your ongoing input, it's really helpful.
This woman is not just a colleague - she's a friend in the sense that our families socialise often, I just wouldn't call her a close friend (we all have those friends, right? Who we know mainly thro our OH's, we like them but wouldn't necessarily be friends independently) and because she's senior to me at work that makes things more complicated/ awkward. However I do care about her, her DD and DH.
My sister had post natal depression so I'm quite in tune with the signs/ symptoms.
This woman has told me she feels really unsupported by her DH and her family (even tho they help with childcare) - that she feels alone and angry. She doesn't know how to look after her DD anymore. This has all come about in the last 6 months, around the same time it has become apparent that DD is missing milestones. Prior to that she was a completely different person.
Initially I'd say "don't worry, you're doing a great job", "we all have days like this", "let's go for a drink just us two" or "why don't I look after DD for a night so you and DH can have some quality time", but she's said "no, only I can put DD to bed and if she wakes at night she goes beserk if I'm not there".
I also gently suggested she think about speaking to a counsellor - I saw one after my Mothers death and it helped hugely - but she just brushed that off.
The DH also bought DD's progress up with me at a social occasion recently (whilst she wasn't there) - he said he was worried but also "didn't want to upset DW as she doesn't trust GP's and only wants to see the Pead Chiro"
Other people have also started to notice and gossip behind her back - people at work who think her work attitude has changed dramatically, and people we know socially who are surprised by the way she has been speaking to her DD & DH over the past few months. I can't stand gossip, so I've refused to get involved.
So yes, I'm worried that her drastic change in personality is a sign of something deeper (just as it was with my sister weeks after giving birth) and that she doesn't feel like she is supported by her DH, parents etc. I thought perhaps if she were to see a GP - or similar - they might be able to give her some practical advice on how to support her daughters unique needs and development, and maybe listen a little to how she is feeling about herself and her abilities as a Mother. But maybe that's naive of me.
I know how I might sound - interfering and/or naive. I probably am the latter but my intentions are pure. My DH says I shouldn't worry so much about other people. Perhaps he's right. Thankyou all again, this has been so helpful.
what is it she is saying/doing that is so shocking/abrasive?
And what on earth is there to "gossip" about? What could people possibly find to say?
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