My name is Littlest J and I have developmental delays. Hiiiii Littlest J.
When I started getting mail about my disabled child and the benefits he was entitled to I was a little taken aback. I kept thinking, wait...who you callin' disabled? I was thoroughly confused as to how the crazy ass Social Security lady on the other end of the phone even knew my son existed let alone when and where he was born. I was all yeah lady, I'm going to give you my son's social security number over the phone followed by my blood type and credit card number. Turns out when a child is born under a certain birth weight they are automatically signed up for all kinds of government assistance. This little fact was shared with my husband in between the delivery room and the NICU. I'm not sure why he didn't have a pen handy to jot all of that down...hmmm. Anyway, I was too overwhelmed at the time to really understand what was going on so I put it all off until my mind could process it better. Eventually I called Social Security, apologized for accusing them of trying to commit identity theft, asked for a new case worker after aforementioned crazy ass became super crazy ass and signed Littlest up for whatever help we could get. This in turn qualified him for Medicaid. I never thought that my child would be on Medicaid, hell I didn't even know what the difference between Medicare and Medicaid was. I called all of my friends asking which one's for old people? I still don't necessarily truly understand what Medicaid does, but at this point they're tops in my book for helping shoulder some of the burden brought on by Littlest's medical bills. Another tasty block of government cheese we are currently sampling is TEIS or Tennessee Early Intervention System. After talking to my mother who has devoted her life to teaching children with learning disabilities, my friend Jessie who I go to with every parenting question and Littlest's pediatrician, my husband and I decided it couldn't hurt to listen to what they were offering. We had a representative from TEIS come out and talk to us and learned that the program does just what it sounds like it does. They intervene early, identify developmental delays and teach inept parents like us how to work on them. B was concerned with letting the state into our house, he's a wee bit militia like in that way, I was concerned about having someone come in and highlight what made my child "slow". Now, I'm not stupid, I knew being born three months early just miiight cause Littlest to be behind his peers, but still as a mother, who wants to face that? Anyway, B stopped printing up anti-big government pamphlets and stockpiling guns and I got over myself and realized we needed to do what was best for our child. So today, after an initial evaluation and the creation of a personalized program Littlest met his interventionist. I've always thought one day I would meet my interventionist. I envision it being VanVonderen from A&E's Intervention. I like his laid back approach - but this is another post completely. Back to what I was saying. Mrs. G came around 3:30, I arrived a little after 4 and literally in the first 5 minutes I was home Littlest was on his stomach lifting his head like an old pro. Mrs. G went on to explain some exercises we can practice with Littlest and shared some info she printed off of tennessee.gov that details what a child should be achieving based on their age and some tips on how best to shepherd them along. I don't know what I expected, but I was surprised to see that this woman was genuine and kind and actually cared about helping my child. I guess since TEIS is a government program I expected to see people who were over worked and jaded, protocol that was backward and poor customer service - kind of like the DMV. But as has been our experience ever since I entered the hospital we have only been met with kindness. From our ante-partum nurses who made us feel like we were at home, to the NICU nurses who loved my child like he was their own, to my in-law's neighbor who shared her story of having a child born prematurely, to B's 80 year old co-worker who put us on a prayer list at his church full of people we've never met, to every one of my friends who has listened to me whine and feel sorry for myself, to every person who prayed and prayed for us during our darkest hour, our lives have been touched by people who truly just want to see this child, who came into this world struggling, overcome his circumstances and prove that there is hope and that good things can happen. We have a long way to go and I know there will be set backs and mountains to climb, but with help like this I think we might just make it.