• Up •
• When a Professional Says... •
• Parent Perspective •
• Life Skills Don't Bring Happiness •
• Pain in the Assessment •
• Thoughts on Therapy •
• Beyond Programs •
• Parents and Professionals •
• Life Long Visions and Professionals •
PARENTS & PROFESSIONALS
What roles do these people play in the
lives of children with disabilities? Or, more importantly, what should
their roles be?
We see it being played out every day in
the classroom, the home, the therapy sessions and the IEP meetings. The
scenario is usually the same. The parent mistrustful of the
professional's tactics and motives. The professional believes the
parent's ideas are uninformed or impractical. The result is almost
always adversarial. And what a shame, for it is neither the parent, nor
the professional who loses in the end. It is always the child and his or
her real needs that seem to be sacrificed when the two sides will not
We know that this is the historical and
current state of these relationships. Our focus should then be on
looking at what the relationships could and should be. And, perhaps, how
do we get from one point to another.
The first step should always be to look
at the vision of the family for the child. For without that we do not
know what we are working towards. And if we don't know that, we don't
know what steps to take to get there. This must be done as a team
together. The professionals must be able to open their minds to the
ideas the parent has for their child and be able to work with them
towards reaching these goals.
After everyone can believe in the vision,
they need to focus on the child themselves. The very uniqueness of him
or her. Not the child's diagnosis and the typical manifestations of that
diagnosis. We do not proceed to work on the disability as if it has to
be taken away or fixed in some way. Nor do we try to teach the child not
to be who they are. We take the child for who he or she is and use all
that they are capable of and begin to build on these things, to teach
them what they need in order to fulfill the vision.
This is usually a very hard concept for
professionals to grasp. Particularly the fact that there actually is a
future life for this child and an ultimate goal that we are trying to
reach. They cannot seem to see beyond the classroom or the therapy
session or the short term objectives of the IEP. Thus the relationship
between parent and professional begin to break down. If the professional
cannot grasp the idea of the ultimate outcome for the life of the child,
they cannot understand the requests and demands that the parents are
making. And therefore, it is nearly impossible for them comply.
We must not forget either, that a
professional will assume the dominant controlling role in the
relationship, and a parent with little experience or education will
allow this and assume the role of the subordinate. Believing that
"they're the experts, they must know what's right." Parents and
"experts" must enter this relationship knowing the roles each has in the
life of the child. Parents must realize that they are responsible for
the destiny and well being of their child. Professionals must know that
they are there to assist and support the families as they strive for the
best possible life for their children. It is not up to the Doctor,
Teacher, Administrator or Therapist to decide what this child can or
cannot do or what their life will or will not be.
A professional with an open mind and a
belief in the child's right to a fulfilling life within our real world
is the best friend a parent of a child with a disability can have. As
parents, there is no doubt that we need the support and skills of
professionals to help our children succeed, Every parent and every child
needs that. We are interdependent upon each other.
Our children's lives are in all of our
hands, And it is up to all of us to strive for the best life possible
for them. We must remember that none of, parents or professionals, are
slaves to "The System." With creativity and focus on the children and
their needs, they can have the education they need/ It cannot, however,
be accomplished one without the other. And there must be common
understanding of the desired outcome or the most common problems now
faced in these relationships will not be solved.
Remember the child, remember the vision!
Written by By Tammy Sutton
Material Copyrighted 1996 Kids Together, Inc.
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