Raising any child can be equated with taking a journey. At the beginning of a child's life, a parent does not know what adventures and challenges will be faced along the way. Every child is unique and every parent is as well.
When a parent discovers that their child, in their uniqueness, may require some specialized assistance or services in order to be successful, there is often a grieving process. Most people, when setting out on a journey, envision what the trip will be like, what will take place and who they will see. Parents who have children with educational, social, and developmental challenges often feel diverted from their expected journey and must re-orient themselves to a new path. This path is often not easy and parents feel like they are taking on the world for their children as a lone advocate in rough terrain.
It is fortunate that knowledge and understanding of special needs has increased over the past two decades. Professionals from many fields are able to provide intervention for children and support for families. Research into various aspects of development and learning continues to be funded. This helps professionals to be more equipped to address children's needs. Parents also have ample information available to them through the internet and through support networks.
This change in our culture does not prevent families from experiencing loss and frustration from altered or unfulfilled dreams, but it does allow them to feel more empowered and equipped on this often arduous journey. With the right tools, parents can bond with the wonderful child that they never expected to meet, while helping that child to reach his or her full potential!
A child's success in academics and life is often hard to predict. Some children seem to struggle at every turn, having learning challenges, difficulties with relationships, life situations that are just not easy, and yet despite all of these things, they end up as stable, successful adults. On the other hand, there are also those children who seemed to have everything in place from the time that they were born, who never seemed to reach their potential.
While there are many reasons why this occurs, psychologists tend to label the children who end up finding success despite all odds as being more resilient, and the children who don't as having less resilient. Though this term has its place, it ignores contributions that others have within the life of a child. Research has shown that often, even one protective factor, a strong mentor, a good teacher, a safe place to escape to, or even simply someone who supports them in their dream can make a difference.
This can be applied to a simple psychological theory developed by Abraham Maslow. He explained that people meet needs in a specific order, from the very basic to the very complex. Before someone is able to focus on building friendships, they must have their basic physical and safety needs met. Before someone can improve their self esteem, they must have some solid friendships, and before they can achieve their full potential, they must have strong relationships. As educators, parents, and mentors, it is our challenge to not only educate children, but to also build a relationship that is both professional and genuine. Taking the time to get to know a student, learn about their interests and goals, and to encourage them in their dreams may be enough to help a student reach their full potential!
Lisa works with families who are looking for educational solutions for their children. She has provided services to families in the DFW area for over 10 years.