I have heard many stories of people who are told by their doctor or therapist that their special needs child will never talk or never be able to go to school or never achieve some of the many things we long, and assumed would be a given, for our children. Many of these stories end with the child overcoming the odds and accomplishing something that was not supposed to be possible for them.
I broke my arm about seven years ago. The fracture was right in my elbow joint. After going through physical therapy, I returned to the specialist. He asked me to straighten my arm as much as I could. I had about a 130 degree flexibility. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling, because my arm had nothing to keep it from being jerked and it was very painful. Then he said, “This is the best you will be able to straighten your arm for the rest of your life.” Like many others with this injury, I now had scar tissue in the joint blocking further movement. I left the doctor’s office, got in my car to go back to work, and bawled. By the time I got to work I had come to an important decision. Screw what the doctor said…I was getting my arm back. I spent the next year continuing my physical therapy at home. My arm kept me awake every night from the pain. By the end of the year, I could straighten my arm completely. It still hurts if I use it too much or if the weather changes too fast. It still gets stuck in the scar tissue and its very painful to work it back out again. But I overcame the odds and got back a function of my body I had been told was lost to me.
Doctors and therapists do not see your child every day. When they do see them, it is in a less familiar and more stressful environment. They will never know your child like you do. They have never seen your child’s autism before because each case of autism is unique. All they can do is make an educated guess of what your child can and cannot do based on limited exposure and previous children’s results.
They are trying to help you come to terms with having a special needs child. It is not your fault if your child has limitations and hurdles that other children do not. This is very true.
However, they do not have a magic formula. They are not more knowledgeable about your child than you are. You are the expert here.
The information they provide is essential to you so you can understand your child, how they should and shouldn’t thrive, and what obstacles they are facing.
It is not meant to put you or your child in a box. If you are told your child will never talk, prove it. Don’t give up on communicating. You will never know if this is true about your child if you don’t actually try. Maybe they never talk, or can only sing, or sign, or type. But unless you go on this journey without limiting what could happen, you might walk right past the key without seeing it.
If it is true, you will know you did everything you could. Therapists and doctors can fix parts of the body to make accomplishments easier, but you know his body, mind, heart, and soul. That is a lot more to work from and all those things used in harmony see the greatest results.
Your child, just like everyone, will have limits. Boundaries that come with their unique person. We are not all capable of the same accomplishments and everything is a gradient, a comparison to those around us.
Please do not let someone else tell you what your child’s boundaries are. It is our job, as a parent, to start them on the path of life – the journey they will go on to learn about themselves, their boundaries, their obstacles and how to claim victory over them. Just as you are on the same journey that your parents set you on.
What I am today is not the equivalent of what I can be tomorrow.
I am not static. I grow.
I cannot know I cannot do something until I try…multiple times.
I will not let another limit me.
I will try things a new way, my way.
I will seek to find a better way.
I will have good days. I will have bad days. That is life.
From my heart,
(C) Rachel Flinchum 7/28/2013
No socks, walking in water!