My last article was a little reflection on my own daughter and music, my gifts, and “my wish.” In my conversations in recent weeks with parents of clients, I wanted to write a little on professional dealings with parents. Last week, you got a glimpse of one of the “twinkles in my eye.” In conversations with parents, we must remember each child is the “twinkle” in each parents’ eye.
Parents often begin the process knowing something is not quite right. Giving a name or a label answers the question and can be a starting point in a better direction, but may also be a point of plummeting devastation for shocked parents. A parent who does not have a child with autism, aspergers, or some other diagnosis has in most cases only ever heard the name of the diagnosis, if at all. The name, the diagnosis, often represents to a parent an unknown dark cave. In this day and progressive age (especially concerning recent developments in neurological brain processes and brain plasticity), I continue to be astonished at comments of professionals such as “your child will never…”, or comments on predictions of inability due to a score. These scores, based on abilities of typically developing children, will generally give a parent an idea of all of the things in which their child is deficient, how far behind their score puts them on that day, or a generalization of their abilities, all this due to a score based on something that they cannot yet DEMONSTRATE.
There is nothing like taking a parent’s dream of possibilities, crumbling it up, throwing it down, and stomping on it. There is nothing like taking a child’s greatest strength, a loving parent, and ripping a path of determined possibilities, openness, and a will to progress, and yanking it away, unplugging life support. Teachers, doctors, and health professionals; we are not trained psychics. We cannot read futures. We make mistakes, we are better at somethings than others, tests do not tell all, and do not factor in a parent’s determination and spirit. Is it possible that the lack of development in children prior to the one we are discussing has been limited by our own narrowness and our own skills and lack of will, education, or willingness to try new ways? It happens all the time with typically developing children. Parents need to have a name: a starting point, not an ending one. They need to hear, and we need to see the strengths their children do have. Then parents need a helpful direction in which to go to continue their child’s development in weaker areas. Parents need to see and hear that there is possibility. I wonder which is easier to say: “This is what your child can or can’t do”, or “this is what i can or cannot do for your child, this is the limit of my abilities.”
To each parent, each child is their wish, their gift. To end the possibilities for a parent is to end the possibilities of a child. If we are in the profession of development, limiting a child to what they can do defeats the purpose of the profession. For a list of famous people with diagnoses who have done great things for society, check out http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/article_0060.shtml.
Antoinette Morrison, MT-BC