What would you like to know?
Share this Story

Special needs evaluations: Praying your child doesn't perform

Maureen used to be obsessed with baseball -- and then she had children. After she welcomed her son, Charlie, and his extra chromosome, she discovered her passion for writing about Down syndrome and disability-related issues.

With two...

Trading pride for services?

If your child has a disability, you will spend hours with strangers who seem intent on pointing out your child's flaws. It's OK. I get it. And hopefully, these tips will help you get through it. (A nice bottle of wine can't hurt, either.)

The naked truth

So what have I learned? I’m sharing these revelations because maybe they’ll help someone else find mental peace faster than I did.

  • Evaluations rarely go the way you envisioned. Let it go.

Murphy’s Law dictates that on the day your child is being evaluated for speech therapy services, he will twirl into the room, stand his toddler self atop a narrow, wobbling stool and, with sweeping arms, deliver the "Gettysburg Address." In French. Let it go. You can ask for another evaluation, often within the next few months. Bask in the moment, then kick yourself later for talking about that Julia Child movie when you thought he wasn't listening.

  • The individuals doing the evaluations are cogs in the wheel. Let them go.

You may never see them again, whether they're from Early Intervention or the school system. Develop relationships with the people who will outlast those hour-long torture sessions, meaning your service coordinator with EIP, your child’s primary teacher and aide(s) and your spouse. It’s important that one of those people has a full realization of your psychotic potential so they can coordinate bail money if you lose it entirely one day.

  • Embrace your child’s challenges, if only for an hour.

Remind yourself that your child’s poor performance may lead to greater services that he or she deserves. Does he normally leap over small obstacles and today chooses to body flop over them? Breathe. It’s fine. The physical therapist is watching, too. That’s a good thing.

What if a therapist doesn't see need?

If you're working with your local Early Intervention program, you can immediately ask for another evaluation, usually within several months. But you don't have to sit idly by. Ask your pediatrician or other local moms who are sailing the same tumultuous seas to recommend a therapist outside the county system. Go private.

Once we entered the world of private therapies, so much changed for me emotionally. Finally, I was able to really react to my child's rapport with the therapist. If it just wasn't there (and give it some time), all I had to do was pick up the phone and make an appointment with someone else. With the county, we once foolishly terminated our relationship with a speech therapist before finding another (through the county) to replace her. The county typically has a mandatory time table (e.g., identify a new therapist within 30 days of the parent's request), but other obstacles can lengthen the process (e.g., insurance and interviewing therapists who just weren't the right fit). That experience was the catalyst to going private for good.

It's going to be OK

Relinquishing your mental state to the universe is not easy, and it goes against every mommy instinct. But eventually, you will come to grips with reality. Let your child demonstrate his best and his worst — it will all even out, and the right people will be there to help you both get to the next level. Don't ignore your gut instincts. With one speech therapist, my entire body froze when she said she wanted Charlie's first word to be "mine." That didn't fit our parenting style at all — he was about to welcome a baby sister. He would learn "mine" well enough on his own. Unfortunately, I doubted myself and we continued to see that therapist for several months before I realized it was time to move on.

It's not easy. You will doubt yourself. And that's why your relationships with others in the same situation can be so vital. Keep them on speed dial.

Oh, and always have a good bottle of wine handy for the evening after an eval. Cheers, fellow warriors!

More about parenting a child with disabilities

Social media: Help for parents of children with special needs
When families fail parents of children with special needs
Dos and don'ts of planning a future for a child with special needs

2 of 2
Recommended for You
Comments
Hot
New in Parenting
Close

And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .

SheKnows is making some changes!