Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 27: Believing In Yourselves (Revised)

In my brief and fleeting moment of blog-reading at work yesterday, hunched over my overflowing desk while scarfing down a slice of pizza for lunch left over from an earlier meeting (not mine), I came across some interesting , insightful information on We Can Do All Things.  It was reprinted from a forum by Dr. James MacDonald, and is about empowering parents to stay in control of their child's development, and to help to educate the professionals about their child.  It's quite good, and there are many parts of it that I think parents should bear in mind. 

Now before I post what he'd written, let me just say that I originally posted this (this is a revised version) thinking that Dr. MacDonald was a minister, and his website was pretty heavily religion-based.  Of course that kind of thing generally has me running in the opposite direction, pretty much as fast as my out-of-shape legs can carry me, but to be honest, there was nothing in this writing that referenced religion, nor did it imply faith in anyone but yourselves as parents of children with a disability or delay.  However, I, having looked at the wrong James MacDonald website (hehehehe), have now been set straight by Sandy, who'd posted it yesterday, and I see that the Dr. James MacDonald who wrote what's below is not the James MacDonald, minister.  LOL  The right Dr. MacDonald has a fantastic website called Communicating Partners which, I, now that I've looked at it, will now implore you to all take a look at, as it focuses on being parental partners with therapists, etc. for our children with Ds or Autism. 

Ah, that's what I get for doing a random web search, right?  But whew, I feel much better now.  :-)

I was initially blown away by it, but as I read it a little bit more closely, I became a bit concerned that it gave some negative blanket statements and implied that the professionals we have working with our children are, to put it simply, bad.  Which is defiinitely not always the case, and I'm a little worried that this could put some parents on the defensive with these important partners in their child's development, when there really still needs to be an element of trust.  But if you can look past those statements and implications, I loved that it puts power into the parents to be the primary teachers and guides through our children's lives.  We can't expect that our kids will learn everything from others.  And that, is most definitely true, and a very important lesson to remember.  Your thoughts?

Here's the post:

Believe in yourself more than professionals!

I say further that you need to do what evaluators only rarely do--and that is focus on what the child can do.

Professionals often seem to think that to justify their job they need
to identify all kinds of mistakes your child makes.

I claim that your child does not make mistakes, they are developmental growth steps.

Professionals would go much further with our children if they would take a developmental approach by identifying what the child can do and have him do more of that.

Stop putting yourself down because you have a child doing less than same-aged peers.

That does not make him wrong, and it does not make you wrong. How often do you feel wrong when someone accuses your child of being wrong???

Don't be blown away by negative evaluations any more than
if someone said you have the wrong kind of car, or dress or house.

Be proud of what you have done for yourself.  That will help your child be proud of what he can do. 

If he is not proud, he will do less and believe less in himself.

Realize your child is learning from you all the time and he is learning much more than what you say or try to teach him, he learns how to believe and think by watching you.



In fact they cannot know who your child is and what he does and can do unless they watch him with you and get a thorough report on what he does at home.

Also, professionals are usually asking the wrong questions. 

They seldom know much about early development and what children need to do before they're in school.

Skills such as social play, imitation, turntaking, deliberate communication, initiating, responding, listening, and many others are seldom evaluated and yet they are the keys to learning and communicating. 

Realize that you often buy into a system that is keeping your child down.  Start seeing how and when you are doing that, such as when you push your child to do things he is not ready for, or making him avoid you and others by acting in ways he cannot try to do.

Be more focused on what your child can do and get him to do it more.  At the same time, focus on what you do when he is performing well - keep doing it.

Be sure he is your partner more than your student.

Begin to be convinced the your child is your responsibility much more than the 5-26 professional who will flit by him and see only pieces of his real development.


We often act as though our children belong to the professionals and we give them away.  Please do not give your child to people who focus on the negative! 

Why do you think I have focused my 37 years of work on parents? They - you - are the answer.

Dr. J


Team Lando said...

Thanks for sharing, Becca! I do think that it's important as parents to be confident in the fact that we KNOW our kids. We know their strengths, their personalities, what makes them tick. But I'm really glad you stuck in the disclaimer about trusting professionals, too. Because I work really hard to get to know my "other kids" :)

Chromosomally Enhanced said...

power to the parents baby!! I see the professionals that work with Maddie as my greatest resource...and people that love her...with her success comes there own...I know early on in Maddie's development I saw them as knowing "more"...but soon I realized I am Maddie's biggest fan and loudest one knows Maddie better...and I take great pride in this...smiles

doozee said...

I get what you are saying about it possibly putting parents on the defensive... but it's definitely something good for us all to read. ESPECIALLY the parents who deal a LOT with the professionals.
"Professionals often seem to think that to justify their job they need
to identify all kinds of mistakes your child makes." cracked me up because JUST LAST WEEK (sorry for all the caps; I'd italicize if I could) a professional went and evaluated Moxie. Said she's "doing great", she's right at benchmarks for typically developing kids. "Um... all right" I said and then the professional asked me if I was worried about anything. I said no. She kept on prying and prying and prying and I was like, no, no and no. I'm not worried. Sorry. She got into speech and was trying to make a case out of why I should be worried about speech - I told her I think I'm the perfect Mother for Moxie - I know what to do, it's okay. I'm not worried. It'll happen. But MAN did she want me to worry! She started pulling out stories and talking about people with Ds not communicating; SHE REALLY WANTED ME TO WORRY! It was pretty funny.
ps. I'm still not worried.

Anonymous said...

I'm a die-hard Dr. Jim fan :)

Alicia said...

I loooooveeeeee Dr.Jim!!!

I became aware of him, 3 years ago, recommended by Chelle (Ciara's mom, you must know her)

After reading his website (i also went to the other dr mcdonald website and got a little confussed) I wrote him, and can I say he is the most amazing person? I mean, we have exchanged emails in the last 3, almost 4 years, and he has sent me (free) some of his material! I didnt ask for that but he gave it to me and it was and still is super helpfull!

basically he teached me to see things in different way,and to play more than talk, and to teach in a different way, I think Elias' communication habilities are thankfull to his advises. really.

We havent had speech therapy since Elias is 3, and we have followed Communication Partners since then, I sometimes wonder if we have ST maybe some sounds will come easier, but I know is practice, practice and practice.

Jenny said...

An excellent post!!! So many things in here I loved!

The only person on Russell's "team" I do not have a good feeling about is his SP. All three of his other workers I adore!

I think when your child has special needs there are times you feel like they are a "community" baby, and not just your own. You feel the "professionals" know more than you do and you are scared at first to question them.

I am over the phase now. I know Russell best. I know his strengths and weaknesses in a way no one else can. So first and foremost I trust myself...And then get the guidance and suggestions I need from his workers.

Again, LOVED this post!!! Thanks for sharing it :)

teal915 said...

That's a good reminder.

Lacey said...

Hmm, we had Jax therapists for 5 years until we moved. Loved them, and they loved Jax and tried their hardest to help him. I do know both my babies the best, every parent does. Arina hasn't had much therapy, and that I don't care about because she learns from us so much, and is above and beyond where I thought she would be.

evrfwd said...

Thanks for this. I will check out his site. and love the "we can do all things" site...thanks for posting it. oxo