Behavior: Social Skills, Self Esteem

general questions about

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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
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Posted Dec 26, 2002 at 1:45:08 AM
Subject: general questions about

hi :) here's the problem: My husband has two children with his ex-girlfriend and I think that the boy who is 4 has some kind of learning disability or worse. He weighs 25 lbs, is extremely petite for his age, has a missing toe nail (it never grew in I guess), can't speak yet, just babbles something nobody can understand, doesn't eat right and if someone corrects his speech or tells him that he can't do something he throws fits and says that he wants to go home to Mommy (something like "go home" and "Mommy" is all I can understand). Besides that, he JUST NOW got potty trained because my husband and me pushed the issue, he was still in diapers until October of this year (he turned 4 on December 1st). His Mom (who has a retarded Mother and even more retarded brother) blamed her pediatrician who supposedly told her that she shouldn't force the potty training because of irregular bowel movements. The funny thing was that he was completely potty trained within 2 WEEKS. This woman is 27, can't keep her house clean, the children live in unbelieveable surroundings, cat poop in the beds, so much dirty laundry on the floor that you can't see the carpet, dishes piling up skyhigh in the sink even though she has a dishwasher. My suspicion is that she tried to keep her son a baby and prevented him from talking correctly and developing accordingly to his age. The other reason might be that he has some kind of mental retardation, sometimes he just looks at you when you talk to him and smiles at you like he has no clue what you're talking about. She just moved here from out of state so my husband never had any direct influence to how she raised those kids. She is neglecting those kids too, the kids are constantly "parked" in front of the tv so she can play on the computer, the kids were here over Christmas, temperatures around 35F and my husband's daughter wore a sleeveless summer dress, socks and open sandals and a jacket over it, WAY too cold for this time of the year. I'm really sickened by the way this woman raises those children, especially if her son has some learning disability, she's even denying that her brother is retarded, even though he participated in the Special Olympics until he was 18 years old and he went to special schools for children with learning disabilities. My husband has basically no rights to those kids, otherwise we would have involved Protective Services already, paternity for both kids is not proven and in the case of the boy my husband is most likely not the father of that child since she got pregnant when they were already split up. We're just in a big mess...is mental retardation (from her mother and brother) inheritable and how likely is it that the kids got some bad genes?

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Joined Jun 19, 2018
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Posted:Dec 29, 2002 1:06:27 PM

Yes, certainly this child is demonstrating red flags in terms of his development and should be evaluated immediately. A complete medical evaluation is in order as he is demonstrating a "failure to thrive"- he's not growing as expected for age. A failure to thrive may be due to an environmental (such as malnutrition), psychological (refusal to eat due to power struggles, depression...), and/or physiological (certain developmental and medical problems) basis. At 25 pounds he is not even on the growth curves plotted for 4 year old boys- he weighs less than the average 2 year old boy. You are also seeing signs of other developmental problems such as a language delay. Yes, there are forms of mental retardation that can have a genetic basis- there are also environmental factors that can lead to delays such as alcohol use during pregnancy and deprivation. Obviously you have concerns about this child's "genetic slate" as well as deprivation and neglect in the home. Your real problem here is your tenuous relationship with these children and his biological mother. Your husband should probably consult with an attorney about his rights here. I'm not a lawyer, but I would think that if he has been acting as this boy's (and his sister's) father- including giving child support- he should be able to have certain rights in terms of visitation/custody and decision- making, regardless of actual paternity. It can't hurt to talk to a lawyer about your options. Of course it would be best to avoid a contentious conflict with this woman (as she could just up and disappear). You might suggest to her that you all make this arrangement legal- regular child support could be an incentive. You should certainly see if she would agree to a developmental evaluation voluntarily. Let her know that early intervention is important- as well as free- for young children with delays. As for involving protective services, you can call the child abuse hotline anonymously. You could act suprised when she tells you about it... but whether she believes you is another story. You are right to be concerned- this little guy and his sister (and his mother) need help. Good luck.

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