Please Don’t Doubt How Far My Son Can Go

by Kelcey Kintner
A father showing a little son how to play the guitar.
Kelcey Kinter

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 spent 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.

Kelcey Kinter

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

Kelcey Kinter

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.

Kelcey Kinter