Friday, February 10, 2012

What Did You Just Call My Daughter?

On the benefits of having an open mind about one's child called a "retard", or having intellectual deficits, being mentally deficient, and other interesting and ridiculous things...

When I was just starting out as a child and school psychologist in Syracuse, NY almost 35 years ago, I administered batteries of tests to children to determine their eligibility for programs designed to remediate their learning disabilities, what were termed their "handicaps" at that time. Armed with the best that Syracuse University's school and clinical programs taught, I offered parents a clear and cogent understanding (using of course the best practice efforts at that time) of their child's diagnosis and needs in clinical terms.

I was so impossibly wrong about how to go about sharing this information, not having the slightest clue about how to impart this information mindfully and with humility. I cringe at the thought of my arrogance then at those parent interpretives. At remembering how the parents bravely fought not to crack open, break down, cry with shame. And I was so proud of myself: laying out their child's disabilities and deficiencies with devastating clarity.