Spice Up Your Inbox. Subscribe Today.

enter your email address:


I sat there listening to this woman.

Child Psychologist.


20 years assessing children just like my boy.

She talked. And I listened. But I’m not sure I really understood. She threw around phrases like “global developmental delays” and “borderline intellectual functioning.”

My kid certainly has his own way of experiencing the world.

He likes to go into random stores so he can “smell the breeze.” He named his toy elephant Todd. He’d rather spend a half hour inspecting a centipede than do whatever you think he should be doing.

More often than not, if I stop to pick up some sushi to go, he will sit himself down at one of the tables with some strangers and say hello.

As my husband Rick once said, “I’m a friendly guy but this kid is in another league.”

Cash is friendly. Sometimes aggressively friendly. Because he wants to know you. And definitely wants to know what kind of sushi you’re eating. And he’d like to know the name of your dog too. And maybe how old you are.

He has no fear. Of good things or bad. He’s adorable. And sweet. And perfect. In that imperfectly human way.

He went to see this child psychologist four times. Part of an assessment for a psychoeducational evaluation. The purpose was to better understand how he processes information so his speech and OT specialists could better tailor his sessions.

We have known for a while he’s delayed. He’s our 5th kid. We saw the difference. But this woman was attempting to tell us his future. She talked about limits and “altering our expectations” to the reality of his situation. She was definitive. And convincing. I’m not sure how I sat there for an hour without crying.

But then I walked to my car, got in and the tears were unstoppable.

Over the the next few days, we sent the report to a number of people… speech therapists, our occupational therapist and the director of a special needs school. We spoke to another child psychologist and to our pediatrician.

And what we heard was hope.

We were told that you can’t determine a 5 year old’s future unless you’re some kind of proven fortune teller. That her dire predictions of Cash were worst case scenarios. Not a given. That we were doing the right thing with early intervention and the enormous progress we’ve seen is real and positive and encouraging.

I was still rattled. But less so.

I guess in the end, I was most saddened by this woman’s limited view of my son.  She will never know what it’s like to inspect a centipede with him.  Or how on a recent trip to New York City, he made it his mission to pretty much pet every dog in Manhattan.

Or how he convinced some guy to give him a ukulele lesson during a long delay at the airport.

I hope one day that doctor is sitting in a restaurant. Just waiting for her food. I hope Cash bounds over to her and sits down. I hope she finds out what it feels like to be the center of his universe, even for a few minutes.

Because I think if she felt that she would stop doubting this boy. This gregarious, energetic, unstoppable boy.

Because I will not alter my expectations. I will not accept her limitations. Mostly because he doesn’t.

This beautiful child will become whatever he wants to be.

And someday her official report will be a small footnote in his amazing, probably unconventional life.

Now I’ve got to go. I’m off to smell the breeze with the sweetest boy I know.

37 Responses to please don’t doubt how far my son can go

  • Wendy says:

    No limits can be placed on children. My son is on the autism spectrum. He is smart and hilarious and writes songs and stories. My two typical girls are Bright and creative. They all work together on games and stories. We know as parents what we are facing. And we don’t know the possibilities beyond that… those are endless.

  • Rhonda says:

    When my sister was born, doctors told my mother to not even look at her. Just put her in an institution. They told my mom she would never be able to drive, dress herself, or even find her way home. And guess what. She does all of those things. That lady only knows what’s in a textbook. You know Cash.

  • Debbie B. says:

    I’ve been following you for awhile and I love your posts about Cash. I think his little quirks and fun personality are what make him such a cool kid. Never let anyone put limits on him or try to change him. He’s perfect just the way he is and his “unconventional” ways are going to take him far in this world where everyone else feels compelled to follow the order set by society. You rock Cash. Keep being you!

  • Megan says:

    Beautiful child whose bound to go far simply by being your son! He is blessed to have you and Rick’s acceptance, optimism, understanding and your unconditional love! Cash has an amazingly strong and loving big family that all know the true Cash and they will help guide him through this journey called life! And hey I love the name Todd! It’s a pretty great name for an elephant or a husband! And I’d be honored to go exploring with Cash when you’re back East this summer!

  • Jackie Morfesis says:

    The doctor with the limited view should be sent this article. And so should the governing board of her profession. Its likely she is doing this to other children and their families. I am very serious. This is an opportunity for advocacy to make positive change. It needs to be heard by the people who truly need to hear these words not just the ones who understand and empathize.

  • Charlie Marcotty says:

    OMG, I have lived this with my two sons. They were both diagnosed with severe developmental delays at age 3. Perhaps on the spectrum. Both with – coincidentally – cognitive processing ability in the 3rd percentile. Dire predictions. Children’s Hospital was “very concerned.” So many appointments, so many assessments, so many “lowered expectations,” so many tears. They are rising seniors in high school and college. They are smart, and funny, and compassionate, and incredibly responsible. They have never given us a moment of difficulty as teenagers – they hang out with us and hug us and tell us they love us and value our opinions. The older one writes beautifully researched papers and has been a preschool teacher for 6 years during vacations, and has already lined up a job after graduation teaching history in high school. The younger one is a straight A student who wants to go to business school; every single adult who meets them loves them. If anyone had told us when they were 3 that there was no way to predict their trajectory, I would have saved countless tears and sleepless nights. Their only residual difficulties from a host of diagnoses of learning disabilities and processing disorders is ADHD, which they manage well. Early intervention is key; advocacy is essential. Give him every service they offer, find reading programs or tutors or software programs that fit his needs. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Cash will prove every single one of them spectacularly wrong, and your grieving heart will be full of love and pride.

  • colt13 says:

    When I would compare myself to others, and consider myself not normal, my therapist would say “what is normal.” The only limitations Cash will have is the ones he places on himself. As Casey Kasem use to say, “keep your head up, and keep reaching for the stars.”

  • Daphne Biener says:

    This is beautiful Kelcey – I hope that you return to your own wise words any time you need a reminder of how each kid is unique and unpredictable.

  • alexandra says:

    “I hope one day that doctor is sitting in a restaurant. Just waiting for her food. I hope Cash bounds over to her and sits down. I hope she finds out what it feels like to be the center of his universe, even for a few minutes.”

    All of THIS.

    ALso, I need to email you. I have some things to tell you.

    But for today, it’s this: I love you.

  • Michele meisner says:

    To know Cash is to love him. He always puts a smile on my face. I loved your post and have no doubts his life will work out just fine. Kudos to you and Rick on raising such a loving, inclusive family. 😘

  • Michelle says:

    Pediatric Speech therapist here. Luckily my professors and mentors taught me to NEVER make predictions. Also, being a mom to a special needs child taught me to NEVER buy into limitations suggested by her doctors. I am so sad to hear stories like yours. Your perspective is lovely. Report that woman!!

  • Lisa Fearon says:

    You brought sweet tears to my eyes. I haven’t read your blog since it got lost, years ago, into some auto-generated google folder. I have a Cash. Who is now 17. I went though the same thing you have…and it is stressful, and simply difficult. Hang in there.

    They don’t grow out of it – they grow into it. Sometimes children realize the gifts that God gave them before the rest of the world does. I think mothers understand them too when we have the strength to shift our mind-set from what “should be” to “what is”. I wish I had been that strong 10 years ago….I wasn’t. But watching my “Cash” turn into the most beautifully complex and amazingly perceptive young man that he has become has given me strength and subtly helped me stand-up for “being me” and doing what I believe is right.

    Intuition and intelligence can be a blessing and a curse. But it sounds like he has caring and accepting mamma who can nurture his strengths. You do have to get through the “expected stuff” (school,sports, friends, etc.), but once you do, the “Cash-es” are the ones who will, and historically have, make a difference in this world….as long as they had a “mamma bird” to help them channel their “shine” in a positive direction.

    My applause to you, and smiles for Cash!

  • Erica Piche says:

    Beautifully written and well said. As a professional in the field, I truly appreciate you sharing your story and bringing awareness to this problem that is all too common. It’s a shame that there are still professionals out there that wrongly use assessments as a fixed measure to put labels and limits on children – especially those conducted at such a young age. That’s simply not what assessments were ever intended to do. They are meant to be used in conjunction with other factors, tools and methods, so we can build an evolving understanding of a person’s strengths and weaknesses. The biggest benefit of that being that it helps professionals provide the best possible interventions, so they can maximally develop their areas of weakness.

    I can go on and on, but in a nutshell, thank you and the sky is the limit Cash!

  • You can rest assured that Yahweh will use him for amazing things. A love for His creation that is that strong should never be hidden or shrouded in Psychology. God made each one of us perfect, and some of us just start of closer to that perfection before the world gets in and tries to squish it. Protect him. You’re so blessed to be able to smell the breeze with such a pure little heart.

  • Ted David says:

    Just wow! What a wonderful example you give of a loving parent also being a strong advocate for their child. These docs have their standards and their norms and their bell curves and their stats. They then try to force these kids to conform to preconceived notions and expectations. The fact is, some of the world’s most productive people have also been the world’s most exceptional … in one way or another. Cash, his sibs and Rick are all so lucky to have you in their corner! And lucky too are the people who get to meet Cash and hear his chatter, answer his questions and watch him grow into a wonderful young man!

  • Cathy says:

    The only person that sounds limited in this post is the doctor. Perhaps she needs to broaden her view and open her mind to more possibilities for her patients. Cash sounds like a delightful child. Enjoy watching him grow.

  • Ali says:

    No limits. No pretty neat little boxes allowed. Listen to the professionals with open minds and ignore this one. Seriously, you should see how amazing most of my former “at risk” students are doing now— all because teachers and parents believed in them. That’s the key.

  • Corey says:

    Cash sound like the kind of kid personality that I refer to as “the ambassador,” who spreads good will to all. There is a whole lot more benefit to the world from his personality than from fit-in-the-box, check-aspirations-at-the-door negative attitudes from certain people with degrees behind their names. Honoring his gifts and encouraging his growth will help him thrive, and no doubt you will find the places that support you in that path.

  • Susan kintner says:

    Cash is magnificent as are you, Rick and each ofCash’s siblings. A beautiful post and I say “ditto” to all the comments. Cash is his own person and blessedly he has the “Mamabird” he does. I treasure my relationship with each of you. Love, mom/nanny

  • Nothing makes me happier than hearing a Mama Bear roar. And you’ve managed to do it in the fiercest, kindest, whisper.

    This precious boy will do wonderful, mighty things. There’s a prediction you can believe in.

  • Steph says:

    I can’t imagine listening to that doc for an hour! You are strong. I think you all were picked to be Cash’s parents and that your view of him as imperfectly perfect (like all of us) is spot on. You as mamabird know how to care for and nurture your child, and you are doing what is best for him. Just looking at his sweet, curious and intense expressions on a computer screen show that he won’t accept any limitations supposedly placed on him. That report won’t even be a footnote in his amazing life. Wishing you much peace in the knowledge that you all are rocking this life.

  • Virginia Luyster says:

    Stupid doctor , with her limited vision of Cash’s future. He is a loving, happy, curious little boy, who is on track to be the same as an adult.

  • jodi says:

    only limits I see here are those from the pyschologist. Cash is kind, loving …and so amazing!!! Harris Family sending hugs to Cash and family! xo

  • Mel says:

    You said it mama! I have a delayed 4 year old but I see her making gains and her personality is as big as the sky. Sounds like she and Cash could charm the world! I believe in her too and think every parent needs to hold onto hope for their kiddo and push where we can.

  • Karin Miller says:

    From what you’ve shared, Cash has an amazing and wonderful life ahead of him! 🙂 We have a similarly friendly, sweet and curious son, and we learned not to listen to naysayers. Back in first grade, his teacher told us to take him back to the doctor for a new diagnosis—he’d been diagnosed with ADD in kindergarten. Thanks to her, he felt terrible about himself and hated school. Instead, we found a different public school and it turned out he was fine—he was just working on his own time frame. In the fall he’ll be a high school junior. He’s not brilliant academically, but he does fine. More importantly, he feels good about himself, his friends (of which there are many) love him, he’s still sweet and quirky, and he’s a kind and loving person with a great future ahead of him. I’m sure you’ll find the same for Cash!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

kelcey kintner