My 15-year-old son’s Beginning Engineering teacher was concerned when he addressed me today.
“He was the speaker today for his group presentation for their CAD project, and he really had a hard time getting through it. His stuttering really tripped him up today. It’s not usually this bad. Of course, I know that you know he stutters. I’m wondering if you might be interested in seeing if he could obtain speech therapy services through the high school? I just want to make sure that he gets help if he needs it.”
This kind man’s suggestion was well-intentioned.
He is concerned. He doesn’t really know my son’s history, but for the little bits and pieces we’ve mentioned over the past three weeks that he’s been in this class. Now I feel like we’re facing a possible implication that we aren’t taking care of the needs of our child.
I reassured him that yes, we are on top of it.
Yes, D1 has been through the wonderful Stuttering Management Program and if he just works through his handling techniques and his take home therapy work, he will be managing it better. He also has local resources and fellow SSMP clients that he can get together with for support.
I explained that he was in speech therapy for 10 of his first 12 years, that his therapist’s office doesn’t know what to do with late onset/teenage stutterers, and that they referred us to SSMP in the first place because of that.
Still, I feel scrutinized.
I am the mother of a special needs child.
I am put on the defensive when anyone questions what we’ve done for our kids, because we have done everything that a parent could do. We’ve poured everything into our kids.
We’ve done the sports and therapies and homeschooled and taught Royal Rangers and Missionettes and worked in youth ministry (all while doing foster care and taking multiple kids to speech, OT and PT several times per week.) We’ve done it all.
There will always be concerned people.
My job is to be the best parent I can to the kids the Lord has given me. Yes, I know that he stutters. And has ADHD. And “a slight case of Autism” (D1’s words, haha!) This doesn’t change how we parent him (for the most part). As a parent, I am my child’s advocate. Yes, he self-advocates VERY WELL, but that is my primary job and I will do it until I am no longer able to do it.
Here’s how to successfully deal with concerns regarding your special needs child:
- Smile. Relax. You know your child.
- Acknowledge their concern and your awareness of the situation.
- Give as much (or as little) information as you need to that will allay their concerns, provided (if present) your child is okay with the discussion. Mine is.
- Stand your ground. It doesn’t need to turn into an argument, but the concerned party needs to know where you stand. Where I stand is that speech therapy through the public school is a waste of time for us (we have done it), and we prefer private therapists. I told him so.
- Reassure the person that you are handling the situation, be that through therapies, behavioral or environmental modifications, or whatever you’re using. You don’t need to justify yourself, but when you’re dealing with a professional who is asking questions, it is best to give a professional response.
- Close the conversation with a smile and thank them for their concern. A little grace goes a long way.
Every interaction with a concerned person doesn’t need to be stressful. Today’s caught me a little off-guard, but he means well. And he really is an amazing teacher for my son.