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IMG_2351Every time parents get together to talk about their kids an all too familiar battle begins to take place. My child is better than your child because… My daughter started to walk at 10 months old. Well, my daughter can say complete sentences and she’s only 11 months old. Then you have the one golden child in the group; my daughter just built a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark in our backyard. Ok So I exaggerated a little bit but you get my point right, we all love to brag about our children’s accomplishments.

This past week Jana had another assessment appointment. This time it was to assess her for Speech Therapy. I will be honest, I am really starting to hate these assessments. They are hard to handle at times. The last assessment was at the Autism Center and it was really hard to not break down when we received the results. Nobody wants to hear about how far behind their child is and how many more additional services they will need. This assessment was another one of those appointments and momma was having a hard time. She didn’t do or say anything wrong, she just wanted to brag about her baby. She wanted to brag about the time Peanut said specific words (kind of), pointed to the horse (possibly accidentally), brought her the toy momma asked for (etc). Momma wanted to brag about her baby, just like any other momma and daddy would.

Bragging about your child in itself is not a bad thing but it can be detrimental to your child’s treatment if the timing is not appropriate. In order for your child to receive the appropriate services then the accuracy of the assessment is important. In order for the assessment to be completed appropriately then you need to provide accurate and truthful information, no matter how hard that may be.

Let me explain. You see although your child may have said that one word that one time it does not translate to a completed mile marker. When you are answering the questions provided by the assessor you need to ask yourself. Were my child’s actions intentional, appropriate to the situation and repetitive? Or were my child’s actions a one-time event. That does not mean that you can’t be proud of the action but does that translate to an achieved goal? I understand that we want to be proud of our children and brag about their accomplishments and by all means brag away. If you’ve looked at any of our accounts for Peanut you know we love to brag about her actions and share her accomplishments. However, when it comes to assessments, take a step back and really think about your child’s actions, behaviors, and concerns. Think about those fears that you have, the questions you are afraid to ask and concerns you are scared to inquire about and ask away. As painful as it may be at the time, in time the benefits will be visible. You see, the only way your child will receive the services they need is if you advocate on their behalf. You are not only your child’s parent, you are their biggest supporter and advocate. So don’t be scared, advocate away.

img_2531.jpgAdvocating for your child is not only about requesting services and calling about appointments. Advocating is about being truthful about your child’s actions, behaviors, and your concerns even if it hurts. You are your child’s biggest advocate. No one knows your child and their needs better then you do.  Although your service providers, behavior coaches, social workers, support staff may have good intentions for their recommendations they also represent their organizations, you don’t. You are there to represent your child and advocate for them. Don’t assume that others will do the same. I know that Jana’s service providers have grown to love her but not one of them loves her more then I do, cares for her more then I do. Because of this, I should not expect them to be a louder voice for her than I am. I am here to represent her, advocate for her and if that hurts you or intimidates you, I’m sorry. We can still be friends, just don’t get in the middle of a parent and their child.

So please continue to brag and share all of your child’s accomplishments no matter how small they may seem. We will cheer right along with you and continue to offer support and encouragement. And when it’s time to get down to business be your child’s loudest support, voice, and most important advocate.