From the very second Michael was diagnosed, I knew our lives had changed forever. At first, of course, like all new exceptional parents, I did not trust my own parenting instincts. I did not think I could parent my child, let alone find the right help for him to get him to communicate with us. I also was worried that I would not be able to pick the right therapy team for Michael. How could I when there was so much choice out there, good and bad, and how would I weed out the good from the bad? In those days I prayed hard to God to lead me to the right people. Those parents I spoke to later on who were not religious or spiritual also spoke of relying on something bigger than them in the universe that would lead them. And lead them (and me) this force, whatever you want to call it, did.
I was lucky to find the right adapted preschool for Michael, the right adapted school that he is flourishing in now, and in between, the right therapies, both private and public, that have made all the difference in Michael’s and our family life. Today after work as I made my way to see Michael’s educator, I felt very fortunate indeed to speak to her about Michael’s progress and difficult areas, to fill her in on our last visit to the psychiatrist and what was happening with his diabetes. I was happy to share the progress that he has been making thanks to a lot of her suggestions to us and him, and happy to know that even when talking about the rough parts, she would be armed with information to share the help Michael and us on our family journey. She is often full of great ideas, and will ask if I am familiar with a technique or behavioral intervention before she introduces it. She knows that I did training in ABA and work with special needs families, so am aware of many of the techniques used to help children on the spectrum and with ADHD.
What I love most of all, is the trust and respect she puts in me and Dad to parent Michael. That is the same trust I have encountered with previous therapists, Michael’s psychiatrist, and his school teams, both past and present. I have also hard resounding, “It’s a pleasure to work with you and your husband. You both want to learn and help Michael be all he can be.” A parent needs to hear this to have the courage to go on in tough times and on tough days. This is also want you want from your team, as the one thing I have learned from the beginning of Michael’s diagnosis is that the parent is the child’s best advocate and help. If we can’t guide the time, no one can. After all, no one knows your child as best as you do.
When I can feel comfortable disclosing ANYTHING to therapists, and I can see and feel their admiration and pride in Michael and in his future possibilities, I also know I have found the right person or people to help us guide Michael to his full potential. Here are 5 things to look for to know you have found the right therapist or therapy team:
- The therapist respects your child for who they are.
- The therapist cooperates and suggests strategies that are in line with your family’s values system.
- The therapist is happy to give you “homework” or things that you can do with your child, alone with your partner and as a family to help your child grow and have the best possible outcomes.
- No one talks about your child being less than or bad. Your child’s brain works differently than yours and you and they need to find ways to connect halfway to have positive interactions.
- You feel better after working with them as does your child. You apply the techniques they suggest and many work.
Exceptional Parents, how did you go about picking your child’s therapy team? How happy are you with them? If the answer is not positive, it’s time to ask around for new people to add to your team. The best results and the happiest families come when they work with the right therapists, interventions and techniques that are right for their child and family. This is not a ‘one size fits all’ dynamic. There is sometimes much trial and error. The things to trust are your child’s reaction to the person and your own gut reaction. If it is positive, keep them on your team. If not, cross them off the family team and go back to the drawing board. You and your child will be much better off long term. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.