Chaya: I want to see Leizer succeeding as one of the crowd.

 

Leizer: I like staying with Mommy. She always knows what to do.

 

Therapist: I like that Chaya is asking for advice, and not just self-diagnosing her son with every issue she read about in this column!

 

 

Chaya’s call is intriguing. “We live way out, but we get Mishpacha,” she tells me. “And I’ve been thinking I should really ask you about my son, Leizer. He’s six.”

“It’s always a pleasure to hear from readers,” I say.

“I guess I’ll start about six months ago,” Chaya continues. “We went to New York for my sister’s wedding. Leizer knows my family, but he literally clung to me everywhere we went. My other kids — even the younger ones — ran off to play with their cousins, and I didn’t see them again until it was time to leave. But Leizer stuck to me the entire time.”

“Was that only on the first day of your visit?”

“No, he was like that the entire ten days. At the wedding, he kept asking me, ‘What are we doing now?’ and ‘Where should I go?’ and even ‘Where are we?’ When I tried shooing him off to join his cousins, he refused. When I told him to stay at the table and wait for me for a minute, he became hysterical.

“He was like this wherever we went,” she stresses. “You know how it can be so challenging to go away for Shabbos sheva brachos? You’re staying at a stranger, everyone’s off schedule … All my sisters were struggling with their babies or toddlers. For me, my hardest kid was Leizer. And he’s six!”

“How does he do at friends’ homes?”

Chaya mulls that over. “When he’s with a group of friends in a familiar place, he’s fine, except that he’s always a step behind. Little boys bounce around a lot — they’re playing Lego and then they’re playing pirate and then they’re all dueling outside on top of the slide. But Leizer’s still inside with the Lego.

“And I feel bad,” Chaya rushes on, like she needs to get it all off her chest. “Sometimes I just run out of patience. Like at my mother-in-law’s birthday party, which I hosted. It was just family, he knows everyone, and I was trying to welcome guests and serve the food and run the party. And he literally dogged my footsteps, every time I moved he was there. He kept asking me who everyone was and why they’re here and when they’re leaving and even whose birthday it was!”

Her voice gets kind of small. “It was a little… embarrassing. My in-laws are very proper, my sister-in-laws’ kids are polite and well-behaved. And there was Leizer, whining and nagging and sticking to me like glue.” She backtracks to explain. “You’re not supposed to compare your kids to others, but it just showed me that his behavior is not normal.”

“I understand,” I said.

“I know we’re far away,” Chaya finishes, a little desperately. “But we have a two-week trip planned for this summer, and I’m dreading how Leizer’s going to behave. I saw your other column, about the ‘stay-at-home therapist,’ how you taught that woman how to help her kid. Can you tell me what I can do to help mine?”

 

-It’s hard for Leizer to transition from place to place.

-Leizer gets frustrated and shuts down in new situations.

-Leizer has poor situational awareness: the awareness of what’s going on around you, including unspoken rules or intentions.

Originally featured in Family First, Issue 600. D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist in private practice for over 15 years. She is the creator of the Link-It reading comprehension and writing curriculum for elementary school students and directs continuing education programs for speech-language pathologists and educators.