Tuesday, July 31, 2012

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Is It Labeling, Or Is It Giving My Child A Chance?

There is a difference of opinion in the Monster House between myself and The Daddy. I am going to do my best to be impartial while representing each side. Though I know you will immediately be aware of which side is mine.

One of us is under the impression that allowing our child to have any kind of special needs diagnosis is simply labeling that child for life, placing him in an undesirable minority,  giving up as a parent, and setting the child up for failure forever after. The belief is that children should be encouraged to rise above their 'weaknesses' and learn to excel in spite of the hand you were dealt. There is no such thing as a meltdown and our child doesn't really have allergies. Kids outgrow allergies all the time. One of us attended one session of therapy with Early Intervention and called it hooey. One of us said that when we were growing up, kids didn't get coddled like this. We learned to be survivors. And everyone was treated the same, no special attention. That's what's wrong with the world today. Kids with labels are disposable to society. And our child is not disposable! There should be total inclusion in school no matter what. There should not be time spent in a special ed room, with a therapist, or with a Para. Kids can't grow and learn that way. You should never try to cram a kid into a category, thereby limited their potential.

The other one of us is under the impression that without at least a partial diagnosis, services and therapies (Para, OT, PT, SLP, IEP modifications to curriculum) and assistance in school, "rising above" would not have been even a remote possibility for our child. Without the allergist, we would not have an epi-pen for his severe allergies, which we now know were a large contributing cause to his seizures. One of us interrogated our OT when we started Early Intervention. And one of us learned how important it was. Without it, we would not know how to ride the meltdown wave. We would have had no idea how important deep pressure is for both of the twinnies when they just can't self-regulate. One of us thinks our child doesn't need to learn to be a survivor. He already is one. One of us believes that this is an ongoing process that requires constant tweaking and fine tuning to give our child the best possible opportunities in life. One of us does not feel as though this qualifies as hindering our child, or cramming him in to a category, or limiting his potential. In fact, quite the opposite.

Now. Take a little minute. If your blood pressure has spiked in any way, please take some cleansing breaths and sit back, and try to relax.

Here is the reason I am posting this. The disagreement in my home is the same disagreement in many homes. We are not unique in this. And yet, in millions of homes, in millions of families, this is a never ending source of conflict. I can't speak for millions of families. I can only speak for me. For me, having this perpetual conflict wears on me. I am doing everything I know to do. The Daddy feels the same. Is this really a fight about "you're wrong and I'm right"? Is it really necessary to perpetually play "I'm the better parent"? Both of us feel validation in our position.

Why is it so hard to agree to disagree, and appreciate the efforts both are making? I don't have any answers. The best I can come up with is, both parents are so invested in their child, so close to the situation, that when anyone (including the other parent) interferes or questions their methods, it feels like a direct attack. Clearly, both parents love the child enough to intervene on their behalf. The problem lies in the execution.

Should one of us really be trying to ram research, thoughts, experiences, successes and failures down the other's throat? Should one of us really be insisting that the other is always harming instead of helping?

The conflict itself is the problem. I always feel attacked, and the Daddy always feels ignored. Well.. that, and we both have trigger tempers. And foul mouths. And neither one of us is stupid, and both of us have elephant memories. But I'll tell ya, it frustrates both of us that we can't figure out a solution. We can't find answers to please us both. Is there ever a time when we'll be able to get along and respect the other in regard to our child?
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