How to explain to parents that a disability is not something to be cured

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Joanna, Mar 17, 2012.

  1. Joanna

    Joanna New Member

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    Mar 17, 2012

    Good day to you all!

    I am an aspiring teacher and as I begin to explore the world of teaching, I began to have so many questions in my head. In order not to limit my resources to just those who are close to me, I decided to expand my search for answers.

    And so now I ask one of my questions to you.

    As a teacher, it is our duty to answer any question that the parents of the students will have. This is especially hard if you're teaching special education. As all the special ed teachers and advocates know, a disability is not something that will go away; it will be present throughout a person's life.

    If a parent expresses hope or expectation that their child will be "cured" with constant therapy and medication, how do you correct this notion without offending or hurting the parent's feeling, or most especially, without loosing the parent's trust?

    I'd like to thank in advance anyone who will help me in knowledge search. :)
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 17, 2012

    Wouldn't that be something for the doctor to tell the parents? It seems like it's beyond the scope of practice of the teacher because it pertains to medical issues.
     
  4. Joanna

    Joanna New Member

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    Mar 17, 2012

    thank you for the insightful reply :) but if I may, can I ask a follow-up question: What if the parents tell you "he will be healed, right teacher? I only have to continue the therapies". What would be the best reply then?
    Thank you in advance again for you answer.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 17, 2012

    "That's a question better suited for your doctor."
     
  6. Joanna

    Joanna New Member

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    Mar 17, 2012

    that is a very sensible reply. thank you so much for bearing with my questioning.
     
  7. lovebeingteach

    lovebeingteach Companion

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    Mar 17, 2012

    Actually, most learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities are diagnosed by the school system via a school psychologist. It is important to be clear and honest with the parent. NEVER put limitations on what you think the child will/will not be able to do. Focus on the positive. For example, Say "Johnny is such a hard worker and has a great attitude towards school. This is a characteristic that will benefit him greatly in the school environment" instead of "Johnny will always have to work harder than any other child." Remind the parents that a lot of successful people have disabilities.

    Some parents will cry, some parents will get angry, some parents will act as if they really don't care. NEVER judge the parents. This is their child, and they love their child. There is a grieving process that the parent must go through. They will compare their child to every other child they have ever known. I had a parent who is a nurse cry in a meeting when we had to tell her that her son had a learning disability. She said, "I didn't drink or do drugs when I was pregnant." THIS IS A NURSE...she should have known better, but when it's your own child, you always want to rationalize why!

    Remind the parents that as the child's teacher you will do all in your power to help the child. I have cried with a parent in a meeting. I have let parents scream in my face, and gave them a hug the next YEAR when they apologized. I have had to assure parents that this is NOT their fault and this is just something that happens sometimes. This is the worst part of my job. After 8 years, I still get butterflies, and this year is the first time I cried in a meeting. I have a son who did not speak until he was 3 years old. Turns out he was a late bloomer, and is fine now. However, I think God put me through that for a reason. I know what it is like to cry yourself to sleep at night. I know what it's like to wish your child was like every other child. I sincerely know what these parents are going through.
     
  8. lovebeingteach

    lovebeingteach Companion

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    Mar 17, 2012

    P.S. Tell them that, although a disability can not be cured, you can provide the child with coping skills that will help the child throughout life.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 17, 2012

    The OP specifically mentioned disabilities that could possibly be ameliorated through medication and therapy. Those sorts of disabilities are the kinds that are diagnosed by doctors, not school systems.
     
  10. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Mar 19, 2012

    I'm with Caesar, I would avoid answering the question directly. I don't give prognoses and I think it's unfair for anyone to, although I could understand where doctors and psychologists might feel it appropriate. I would try to redirect the conversation. Since the parents are looking for reassurance, you could either emphasize the child's positive qualities or redirect to the immediate next steps you'll be taking in remediation. For example, you can't tell them whether their severely dyslexic kid will ever be able to read fluently, but you can discuss what goals you'll be working on with him over the next month and what progress you hope to see during that time. One step at a time is the only way to find out how far anyone can go.
     
  11. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Mar 19, 2012

    I stay away from these questions also. My principal drives me nuts when it comes to this- in initial meetings she always brings up how some student she knows was exited from special ed after a few years and is no longer needing services because special ed brought them up to grade level. Although that's certainly possible, it's pretty rare, especially nowadays with RtI. I think she's giving them false hope and/or making it sound like they just have to "suffer through" being in sped for a few years before they can "break out." I try to get our AP to come to my meetings whenever possible because he's so much more respectful with the parents.
     
  12. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 19, 2012

    I think the bottom line is to stay within your area of expertise. If the disability in question is a learning disability, and the question being asked is, "Do you think my child will read on level by the end of this year," that may a question you feel comfortable answering, or it may not be. On the other hand, if the child is diagnosed with Autism, you are a general education teacher, and the parent wants to know about the effects of a new diet, you may not have a similar level of knowledge.

    In general, I think it's bad to give less information than you have, as well as bad to give more. As human beings, we often feel the desire to be as competent as we can in certain settings. I know as educators sometimes we feel we know a lot about a topic because we took a grad school course on it, or because we've worked with a kid with a similar issue in the past, but it's important to be honest about what we know.

    At the same time, I agree with the sentiments that teachers are an important part of the team, and should be able to give unique input to parents about potential of progress within the walls of the classroom, at least with many common issues and concerns.
     

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