New Challenges Ahead: Adjusting to Change

I have spent a ridiculous amount of time staring at the computer screen, trying to decide what to title this post or even how to start. Although I share quite a bit about my family's travels here, I don't always share much of the day-to-day of our lives. I used to share quite a bit more when I was actively writing on my Celiac Baby! site, writing about how my family navigated the change to a gluten free lifestyle after my oldest son had to go gluten free. When we moved to Paris and I started writing this blog, my focus became more travel-related, offering insight on the various destinations we've been lucky enough to visit. I don't want to say that I began to feel boxed in writing Celiac Baby!, but I guess in a way I did, wanting to write about more than just one aspect of our lives. I stopped writing there *temporarily* in 2015, and haven't written there since, unintentionally giving it up. I'm beginning to feel that way again, for different reasons this time.

Our youngest son is four, and has been having some language-related difficulties. He understands English, Spanish, and French, and can follow instructions and ask for what he wants in all three. However, he has difficulty answering open-ended questions, often gets caught up on a specific sound, repeats words or phrases, speaks in a cartoon-like tone of voice, and so on. That, coupled with a few behavioural concerns, prompted us to seek out answers from doctors. We started the process before the summer, and he started seeing a speech therapist last spring. His language is improving, but the continued social and behavioural concerns prompted us to look into the issue further, leading to more appointments with specialists in the Paris area. Since almost everything shuts down over the summer, the appointments started in earnest at the end of August, and we have had two to three appointments every week since then. My husband and I have our suspicions of what the diagnosis will be, and we've received some informal medical opinions, but his official evaluations will take place over two days at the end of September, at which time we should receive confirmation.

How all this relates to the blog is obviously the least important in terms of my son's life, but is something I've been struggling with as a parent. When my oldest went gluten free, it was before the popularity of the gluten free diet and I had no idea where to turn for support. Writing the blog was almost a form a therapy for me, working through the various issues as they came up. Over time, the blog became a way to help others who found themselves where I was at the beginning, lost and worried that I was doing it all wrong and not helping my son the way he needed to be helped. Eventually, living gluten free became second nature, and I found myself longing to write about more than just our food choices, which led to this blog about travel when we moved to France. Now, I'm wondering how much of this new path I will be walking with my family could and should make it into my writing here.

Regardless of the official diagnosis, my son is a special needs kid in several areas. He attends regular kindergarten and hits many of the developmental milestones for his age, but is behind on many others. He already attends speech therapy and will shortly be starting more intense communication and behaviour therapy to try and catch him up to other kids his age. Some of his issues have been apparent to us for a while, but we are beginning to view other behaviours in a new light as we are coming more and more to see the bigger picture. For example, he is easily overwhelmed, is frightened of certain things that most kids his age aren't afraid of, and has trouble controlling his emotions when he is very happy, excited, or sad, among some other behaviours that can often be written off as stubbornness or "being difficult."

I do know that all these appointments and the emotional toll has caused me to slow down on blogging, and i haven't done much freelance or personal writing either. I am slowly beginning to adjust to the idea of a new normal for my family, one that includes therapy, support groups, doctor's appointments, and new routines. I'm not sure how much of all that I will be sharing here, or if I will somehow be revamping things to have a blog that allows for a wider variety of topics. What will change will be the inclusion of some tips and ideas for traveling with children who may share some of the same issues as my son. My husband and I have been unconsciously accommodating his needs already, but now we will be much more aware of ways to help make travel more enjoyable for anyone. My son is a great traveler, but there are times when things get overwhelming for him, and now I will be better prepared to help him avoid those situations in the first place.

I have several posts in the works from our summer travels that I'm trying to get posted as soon as possible, while at the same time sorting out all our appointments and getting ready to head to Canada in October. As the seasons transition from summer to autumn, my family is transitioning to this new phase in our lives, and we are ready to meet it head on. I will try to keep up a regular blogging schedule and to get back to the newsletter I have been neglecting. Thank you for your patience while my family adjusts to our new normal!