Dear Special Needs Parent who has been given bad news,
Have you been told, “Your child will never….” walk, talk, read, write, or anything else? I need you to know, that that doctor or teacher or therapist, cannot see the future. They cannot possibly know everything there is to know about the condition, your child, and how they will grow, learn, and live. They do not know your child’s true potential. And one of the worst things you can do for your child is to accept that they do.
What Doctors Do Know
All the doctor has is scans, test results, and a diagnosis. From those, they present to you a worst-case scenario and speak in averages and percentages. Statistics. But your child is not a statistic.
You need to realize that doctor has no magic crystal ball to see what your child will become. They also have no clue what fires you are willing to walk through. What challenges you are willing to face. They have no clue if you are raising a child with an iron will who is going to work for what they want or an agreeable child who will do every type of therapy with a smile. They don’t know, and you might not know yet either.
I don’t know you, your doctor, or your child. But I do know that if you assume your child will never be able to do things, then they probably won’t. Because if you accept those words, you aren’t going to push, do therapies, and work with all you have to prove those doctors wrong. And that is what you need to do.
So, if you just got told that your child will “never” mentally flip that doctor the bird and start working. I don’t recommend flipping them an actual bird, because you might yet decide to go back to that doctor/center/place in a few years. You also, don’t have a crystal ball to know what help you will seek in the future.
What They Should Have Said
What I wish they told you instead is that your child is going to have to work harder to do things. They are probably going to do a lot of things later than their peers. They are going to need a lot of therapy and no one knows what they will or won’t be able to do in life, but effort matters.
What you have, that no one else can give you, is a chance to work with your child every day. Sing to them. Move them. Cuddle them. Tell them you believe in them. Even as a tiny baby, your child understands if you believe in them or not. You have to be their biggest cheerleader. Their coach, their parent, and the person that tells them they can do anything.
There are no guarantees that if you do everything you can, your child will beat all the odds. But I can guarantee that if you don’t put in the effort, that doctor/teacher/therapist will be right.
I’ve Seen It
I’ve worked with several miracle children in my line of work. I also have a nephew who is a miracle child. A child who has exceeded everything the doctors said that child would ever do. I know for a fact that beating the expectations of those initial doctors is possible.
The miracles I have witnessed did not just happen. Those children went to therapies. Their parents worked to provide what they needed whether it was a special diet or opportunities to stretch themselves. They looked for new ideas and treatments. They showered their children with love, but they also pushed them. They let them feed themselves and make a mess. They let them hold their fingers and practice walking until the adult was so tired they were the ones asking for a rest. They provided educational toys and helped them play with them.
I Believe In You
Everything you do, matters. I know some days you are going to wonder. But trust me. You are your child’s best chance at beating all the odds. Treasure every milestone your child hits that you were told they never would. They might hit them late but that part doesn’t matter.
I know that doctor broke your heart but put them in the mental place you put your worst ex-boy/girlfriend and ignore them. They don’t know what the future holds, and that is a good thing.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.