Stroke at birth
The conclusion of a four-part series
While I have had previous experience addressing academic issues with my patients, my son is now in elementary school, so I am developing a whole new perspective. I still do not understand all of the intricacies of special education, but I am lucky that I have colleagues who I can contact with questions concerning my own son, as well as my patients.
The process is incredibly complex and confusing! Despite all of my knowledge, I also admit to sometimes feeling intimidated during school meetings. I frequently help the parents of my patients locate special education advocates because it is very easy to feel that your child's needs are not being addressed they way you would like at school. Although maintaining a strong cooperative relationship with the whole team of professionals who work with your child is important, it is also sometimes necessary to fight more for your own child. That line, however, is not always clear, and all parents need to trust their instincts.
I considered leaving pediatrics after my son's diagnosis because I was not sure that I would be able cope with developmental disabilities at work and home. However, I soon realized that I would not ever really be able to escape my new role as a "special" mom. Instead, I made the decision to embrace the situation, which eventually led me to Cook Children's and specializing in pediatric stroke in my professional and personal life.
Although having a child who is a stroke survivor does not make me a better neuropsychologist, it does give me more insight into the day-to-day struggles that my patients and their families face. I know that, in addition to the medical and school issues, my patients and their parents may be dealing with complex family, emotional, and financial issues that go along with having a child with special needs. If you do it right, being a parent to any child is a difficult job, and we all have moments when we look back and wish we had handled a situation differently.
I have learned that it is extremely important for parents to take care of themselves, especially when their children have complex issues, because a child's needs are best met by a healthy parent.