The Truth is, the Key to Unlocking Your Child's Potential is the System — Not the Product
The year was 1994 and I was working in my first job as a Speech-Language Pathologist.
Back then, companies would pay for clinicians to further their education by sending them to conferences in their relevant field. I was working as a pediatric rehabilitation therapist, learning all that I could about neurodevelopmental and feeding therapy.
Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph.D., a speech-language pathologist based near Charlottesville, Virginia, was nationally and internationally known for her work with children with developmental disabilities. Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, in Knoxville, Tennessee offered to send me for a week to take part in a small group training.
The course was set at The Monroe Institute, in Faber, Virginia (right outside of Charlottesville). At that time, I knew nothing about the center (that is a story for another blog), what I did know was that I was given a gift to study with one of my renowned role models.
So I hopped on a plane and flew to Virginia with a growth mindset and a sponge-like learning mentality. The information, observations, and learning that I experienced during those seven days changed the trajectory of my learning and remains the basis of how I provide family and patient care.
While I have a ton of stories and specific education to share, for the sake of keeping this blog short and sweet, I will give you my big takeaway and how it became the compass for my professional career.
Dr. Morris and colleagues taught me that the success of programs for children with physical, communicative, and cognitive delays is dependent on two things:
- The learning environment which is created by the therapist, educator, and parent, and
- To be effective, that learning environment should be based upon a universal language system.
During that week my eyes were opened to the value of the whole child - that the child as a whole, as a unique individual, must be considered and not just the issue. This
This individual-focused approach requires coordinated care among the therapist, doctors, nutritionists, and parents in helping the child. I witnessed the importance of nutrition, music, exercise, mentoring, and, most importantly, concierge care.
Now back then, the term “concierge care" had not been coined yet. It was just known as “standard practice” among therapists and health professionals. However, healthcare has changed and today, standard means basic, and coordination of care gets lost in translation.
My system’s roots stem from individualized and systematic personal care. That is, “concierge service” - keeping in mind the word “concierge” means “special attention”.
Parents Must Ask Who is Paying Attention to Their Child's Educational Development
The most important question for a parent is who is paying close attention these days to what is happening in their child’s educational development? I meet with families all of the time who deliver a mound of information and sometimes a whole filing cabinet worth of tests and reports that validate years of struggle with their child.
What they don’t hand me is what I like to call the "universal remote". You know the one: that one remote that you have in your house that streamlines how you watch television. The one remote that eliminates the need for other remotes because it communicates among all the other remotes, centralizing control. And, in centralizing that control, provides the user with a clear understanding of how to work the system.
What happens when there isn't a universal remote?
Well, you have multiple remotes lying around. Each remote with its own, specific duty and its own codes for accessing and using the information it needs to play its part in operating your T.V.
When you want to watch T.V., if you are like me, you are faced with the dilemma of which remote to pick up. Which one does what? In what order do I have to use them? Where do I start and which button do I push first?
And, again if you are like me, you also may just end up becoming extremely frustrated because you chose the wrong one and now you have completely turned off your entire satellite system.
Each Professional Has a Treatment Language. Effective Treatment Requires Every Message is Compatible
This same scenario is what happens these days in families with struggling students. Professionals are engaged in breaking down that struggle and each come aboard speaking their own language of care. Like the television remotes, each has their own duties and codes for accessing and using the information needed to care for your child.
But, like with the remotes, when there isn’t the one person who knows all the codes and can speak all the languages and who, with that knowledge, can translate them into a universal language, parents find themselves staring at multiple people speaking a variety of languages.
Parents then get caught in the overwhelming task of trying to understand and figure out what everyone is saying and how it all fits together and the struggling student is lost in the noise and confusion. The child is lost in translation.
How does a parent find a universal remote? You look for a person like me. A professional who speaks both educational and medical languages. Someone who can interpret test results, translate the information in a format that both teachers and parents can understand, and who - most importantly - offers a system that provides an overall plan of action.
To Be Effective, Professional Care Must be Personalized for the Individual Child
You look for the professional who can offer a plan that will provide you with the resources and information you need to navigate through the foreign and unknown world of treatment. You look for the person who will, ultimately, provided the individualized care your child needs to succeed.
I believe that personalized professional care, care focused on the individual child, is the only way that optimization among these beautiful young minds will happen.
In offering my system to families I offer to hand them the universal remote to their child’s future.