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Am I Failing My Child?

I remember the early conversations I had with my son’s pediatrician when he was a year old, and then more conversations at 18 months old and he still wasn’t talking. I remember the anxiety I had as I searched Google for answers, but all the results kept coming back with “autism”. Taking those first steps to get my son the help he needed was scary because I didn’t know what to expect. I was frustrated though because I wasn’t able to do what he needed on my own. I was his mother – wasn’t I supposed to be able to provide everything he needed?

If you are a parent who is going through a referral or diagnosis process for your child, whether it’s for autism, or a simple speech delay, or there are some major physical issues your child needs help with, it’s okay to accept help. I’m a patient coordinator for our Indiana office, and I talk with parents every single day who are doing just that. I talk with moms, dads, grandparents, guardians, foster parents, and even siblings who feel they have nowhere else to turn, but somehow feel they are also failing their child because they can’t give them what they need. It’s completely normal to feel this way, but I want to tell you what I tell each of these parents and guardians; you ARE giving your child what they need by being a parent involved in your child’s therapy plan. You may not be a speech, occupational, physical or behavior therapist, but you don’t have to be. That’s why we exist!

When you accept a doctor’s referral for therapy and do everything you need to do to start services, you are giving your child exactly what they need. You are being the best parent, grandma, or brother because you are caring for the one who needs some extra support for your child as they embark on the journey of therapy. It’s okay that they need extra support beyond what you are able to do. You’re not meant to bear the burden of providing all the therapies on your own. We have amazing therapists who love getting to work with your unique child to help them reach their potential. What’s more, we have patient coordinators like me, a parent of a child with autism and other special needs, who completely understands the demands you are under and the stress you feel, and we want to do everything possible to make the process smooth and easy for you. You are always welcome to call with questions and we will do anything we can to make you feel comfortable and give you the encouragement you need.

So, mom, dad, grandma, sister, foster parent, you are doing an amazing job! I know it’s hard. I know it can be scary and stressful. But you’re not alone in this, and I can also promise you that the first time you watch progress firsthand, it will be worth it all. Remember that accepting help does not mean you are a failure. As author Eric Messer says, “Having someone help you doesn’t mean that you failed; it just means that you’re not in it alone.”

Sarah Broady

APT Patient Coordinator, Indiana