Welcome to Day 23 of the 31 Days of Random Reflections on Raising and Homeschooling a Child with Special Needs. You can find the main page for this series here.
Several months ago, we met with a new specialized educator for the first time. She is the third educator since my son was transferred to the 6-18 program at our local rehabilitation center (he’s was only 7 at the time). He is being followed by this center mostly for behavioral support at this point, but their mandate is mainly for intellectual stimulation.
We had to go through yet another “initial” meeting with many of the same questions.
One of the questions I had to answer was: What do you want to work on next?
What do I want to work on next?
I had a whole slew of answers, but in reality, I wasn’t ready to give those up.
I’m a teacher by profession and a perfectionist/must-be-in-control-of-everything type person by nature.
I know what my son needs most.
I am home long enough to work on those things with him.
I don’t really need outsiders to help me.
I’m supposed to be the one to do it.
At least, that’s the song I sing when I am asked such a question. If I tell you that we need help with some aspect of my child’s life, I’m admitting defeat. Right?
My answer to our new (and quite lovely) educator was, “I want someone to come in, work her magic, change his behavior and then give him back to me all fixed.”
The words flew out of my mouth before I could take them back.
But, instead of feeling embarrassed, I felt relieved.
I said what I didn’t even know I was thinking and had been carrying for so many years.
I may be a mother, but I am not a psychologist.
I may be a teacher, but I am not a behavioral specialist.
I may be an educational consultant, but I don’t know how to get him to come back from a meltdown in the middle of morning circle.
I know what I am.
More so, I know what I am not.
I can’t do everything. No one expects me to.
You can’t do everything. No one expects you to, either.
Admitting you need help is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Getting help is your right.
How did my story end?
Rather than saying, “Sorry, but you have to do everything for your son yourself,” the educator smiled her knowing motherly smile and asked, “How can we get someone in here to do just that?”
Until that point, I hadn’t even imagined as a homeschooler/mother/educational consultant that help of that sort existed. I thought I had to be the one involved in helping make the changes. I mistakenly thought others expected this of me. Had I not blurted it, I would never have gotten someone else’s wheels turning about how to find a realistic solution for us.
How honest are you about what you can handle?
Tell someone what you need even if you are embarrassed/ashamed/uncertain about the request.
Say it out loud.
Get someone else’s wheels turning no matter how absurd your wishes appear.
The seemingly shameful thoughts that live in your head become a lighter load when they live out in the world.
In the end, your child benefits more from your giving up control than if you’re continuously stressed/concerned/doubtful about all that you are trying to manage.
Note: The final solution to my issue was for the educator to directly train our caregivers, taking me out of the equation. It was a great weight off my shoulders and we have seen enormous progress with my son as a result!
- Care.com: Looking for extra help? This is a great resource for anyone looking for childcare services, a tutor, special needs care, caregiver for a senior, home care, and even pet care. I have used this resource with much success. You can get as specific as you want in the search and find someone right in your neighborhood willing to give you an extra hand.