Have you prayed for a miracle in the life of your child with special needs?
Have you anguished with God for the next step of accomplishment for your child waiting for them to become the typical child for whom you’re praying?
Have you begged teachers and aides to put your child in a “particular” class because you just knew it would be the key to success in opening up the potential of your child?
Yep, me, too.
Conversing with a friend the other day about how parents of children with special needs sometimes act in the process of helping their child, I realized there is a fine balance between working toward the possible and potential next steps our child will take and an actual miracle in their life. Those of us in this place all want a miracle. The miracle that makes our child see, talk, hear, walk. The miracle that makes them understand, behave, learn, sleep through the night, shower themselves, know adding, subtracting, multiplication and division, and express themselves so we can even understand what is going on! The miracle that finds them a job in the real world, has them riding public transportation or driving all by themselves, has them married with a family, and has them well streamed into society.
In all the years of Joey’s schooling and now in a work place (he’ll soon be 35), I’ve made a few things my purpose in helping him along the way. Mostly it was a process of step by step rather than one big miracle:
- Build a team – In his preschool years, school years, and as he transitioned to the work place, I was delighted to have a great team on his (and my) side. The reason I believe that team was successful was because I/we always desired to have a T.E.A.M (Together Each Accomplishes More) mentality. I/we did that by:
- There is no us versus them – I always start my part of the meeting with the idea that we are all here for Joey. When it seems there might be “differences” it’s a great way to start in a positive direction.
- Learn when to say, “You are the trained professional.” I am the parent. I have no training in special needs, but as the parent I know some things that can help teachers and other professionals. On the other hand, trained teachers know things that will help me (and Joey) in the learning process, and I’m here to learn. What they teach me, I’ll help teach him at home. I have NO IDEA what the next step is. (Even though I’m open to the miracle that could happen, I realize it’s most likely the professional will bring him and I to the next step along the way.)
- Learn when to say, “I am the parent.” Because of that, I’m most grateful when I’m asked my opinion and someone cares enough to “pick my brain” for things that might work and that the teacher/professional might have missed. They probably didn’t but it’s nice that they cared enough to ask!
- Only focus on the next step. And yet…I often don’t know what the next step of development is. Because of this, the help of a professional is so important. When the professional can direct me to help my son, it’s so refreshing. I know some of us want professionals to be the miracle-worker, but I’m here to say, “Help me with the next step.”
- I want the miracle, but…... But guess what, most of us won’t get it. We can beg all we want for our child to be in the general history or English class, but if the memorization of dates or the diagramming of sentences is out of their learning curve, let’s strive to get them what they need, not what we want them to be able to do. When I realized that Joey wasn’t ever going to “catch up” to others in his age range, I mentally prepared for him to learn what would best help him function, even it was something as simple as brushing his teeth and making his bed.
Because we worked hard at all of these things as a T.E.A.M., I think Joey has reached his highest potential. He has taken some baby steps (forward and back), and little leaps along the way. The full deal miracle hasn’t happened, unless maybe it was in my own heart of acceptance.
We can all help our own child by helping them get to the next step…and along the way they just might become that miracle for which we prayed.