I'm an occupational therapist. I help parents navigate the unexpected adventure of raising a child who is different from what teachers, doctors, and other parents expect.
You are the ones doing life-changing work with your children every day. I come with skills and experience, but most importantly I am a coach who can hear your questions, hold space for your frustrations, and celebrate with you.
One question is inevitably asked, by nearly everyone:
“Will my child outgrow this?”
I've heard this question asked with hope, with fear, with defiance, with resignation. With doubt.
I used to dread answering, because there is no correct answer here. You're asking about the future, which no one can predict. We have to live it to find out, and then we'll never know how things might have been if we took a different path.
The answer is:
“Yes, and I don't know.”
Yes, because children grow and change each day, so they will definitely grow out of whatever state they are in.
And I don't know, because what direction they will take as they grow is the real question you are asking.
The thing that made me dread answering this question as a young therapist is that the answer doesn't matter all that much. It's what you do with the answer that matters.
Master Yoda (yes, I am totally going to use a Star Wars reference here) said “always emotion is the future.” I do have compassion for the worry, doubt, and need for reassurance that motivates this question. Yet Yoda also says “Do - or do not. There is no try.”
You can only affect the future by acting in the present. When you find yourself wondering if your child will grow out of this, take a moment to visualize what the future version of your child might be doing differently. What situations would you like your child to recognize and adapt to? What behaviors would you like to replace? What would you like your child to be able to do?
Imagine points in time between now and that future - two years from now, one year from now, six months. What must be learned at each point, to get to the future you want?
You can absolutely do this process yourself, but it’s harder, and takes longer, than doing it with support. It’s harder, because when all of the analysis and feedback must come from you, the person doing the work, that’s a lot of sustained focus. It takes longer, because every learning process involves mistakes, and when you learn on your own you have to make every mistake yourself.
I’ve been involved in quite a bit of professional education and coaching, and I’ve noticed something missing from the therapy process. Unlike most other learning situations, therapy is individualized. You rarely get the support and insight of others working on the same types of goals.
When you do, it’s often sporadic - a chance encounter in the doctor’s waiting room, or conversations on Facebook groups (that gigantic doctor’s waiting room of the web). It’s definitely not the quality of support you get when you’re working through learning with a cohort of people who have time to get to know you.
What if parents could access a community of others working through similar situations, and help each other stay focused on that future you envision for your children? That’s what I’d like to find out with the Whole Self In pilot community.
To test the idea and the technology that can bring parents together in a learning community focused on the life-changing work you do with your children each day, I’m looking for 12 pioneering parents to work closely with me and with each other over a three month period (May 1- July 31). For more information and to sign up, go to: http://www.wholeself-in.com/your-whole-self-in/ and sign up by May 1st.
Questions? Post them here, or e-mail Laura@wholeself-in.com
Laura Hackle, OTR/L