Q&A: should you say anything to a friend if you suspect something about her child?

Lisa writes:

"I was innocently reading a blog and linked from a comment to a different blog.  This 2nd blogger has a son with Sotos Syndrome and she describes some of the problems she has encountered, first with getting a diagnosis, then with the treatment program.  Being the curious monkey that I am, I googled “Sotos Syndrome” and it matches a close friend’s son exactly.

Our boys are two weeks apart in age (both are first/only kids), but light years apart developmentally.  My son is in a home daycare, and hers is at home with his dad; so I would expect some differences there just on a social level.  But I’m recalling the last time the boys played together and noticing the extremes.  Her son is almost twice my son’s size (ok, his parents are large, and I’m petite and my husband is average); but all of the skill levels are different, too.  Maybe I’m naïve, but I would expect that with development differences, her child should excel in some areas, and mine in others, but I don’t see any of that.

Which all leads to my question: Should I mention this to my friend, and if so, how?  I can’t think of any way of bringing it up that isn’t going to sound like (to her) “So what’s wrong with your kid?”  Also, I like to brag about my degree from Dr. Google U, but other people aren’t as impressed.  I don’t want to give out assvice that I don’t know anything about just to worry her; but her son’s 2 year check-up will be at the end of October, and a great time to ask the pediatrician if she feels there is a problem."

This is a tough one. On the one hand, there's a lot to be said for minding your own business. On the other hand, if you can help her family by getting her son therapy and help for a disability, you're almost under a moral obligation not to withhold information.

The easiest test is "Would you want someone to tell you?" Of course, that doesn't really help a whole lot, since people are probably polarized about the answer to that question. (This reminds me of discussions of cheating spouses. In any discussion people seem to be evenly split between those who absolutely would not want to be told if a friend saw their spouse cheating, and those who would be devastated not to be told.)

So then consider what, if anything, telling the friend would accomplish. If her child does have Sotos Syndrome, early intervention in the form of occupational, physical, and speech therapy could make a huge difference in the child's development. So you really can't say nothing. The repercussions of saying something and the boy not having Sotos Syndrom are much less than the repercussions of his having the syndrome and not saying anything. So you have to tell her.

You also have to be prepared to lose her friendship when you do tell her. If she hasn't noticed anything, she may be so blindsided and insulted by it that she won't talk to you anymore. In this case you can only hope that she gets her son checked out. She may have had suspicions all along, and your telling her might make her feel more fear, and she may cut off contact with you. Or she may be relieved to be able to talk about it with someone. There's no way to know how the situation will go.

I have no magic words for you to say when you tell her. I'm kind of blunt (as you can tell), so I'd probably say something like, "I don't know how to tell you this, so I'm just going to say it: I think it's possible that Dylan has Sotos Syndrome. He fits all the physical and developmental characteristics. I'm telling you now so you can ask your pediatrician about it at his 2-year check-up." But if you think it's likely that she's been wondering about him already, you could try to draw her out about it a little. Or you could ask her how extensive the developmental evaulation is at her pediatrician's, because your ped is going to look at a bunch of questions to rule out any developmental delays--talking about it as a universal screening tool might make her feel more comfortable getting her son evaluated.

Readers, if it was your child, and telling you would help you get your child useful and necessary help, how would you want to be told?