Until You Get The Right Answer
By Pat Linkhorn
Take a Advocacy Tip from Your Kids on Persistance
Kids have the right attitude. If they ask Mom for permission to do something
and she says no, they go directly to Dad and ask the same question. Sometimes,
it works and they get a yes from Dad. Sometimes not. But they know what
they want to hear and the no answers simply aren't acceptable, so they
keep on asking.
Parents who have children with developmental delays or disabilities have
questions. Lots and lots of questions. Many times, when a question arises,
it's not really a question. It's a confirmation question. In other words,
the person knows what they want to do. They simply want someone to confirm
that what they want is valid or reasonable.
The truly stubborn parent will ask this question of every professional
they come in contact with until they get the assurance they're seeking.
The new or timid parent will accept the negative answer and go no further.
The point here is not to say that professionals don't have the right answers.
They do have the answers to what they think you have asked. They don't
always have the answer that you actually want to know though.
Also, every person is at a different space and time in the disability
movement. The director of the County Board Program might give you a different
answer than the teacher who teaches in an inclusive setting, or the speech
pathologist who teaches in more than one program. None of them will give
you wrong answers. But, they will answer from their perspective. If you
are not satisfied with the answer you get, if it leaves you feeling somewhat
defensive, or if you feel they really didn't understand the question,
don't stop asking. Ask the next parent or professional you encounter.
Parents are always at differing points in the disability movement, so
they too, might give you different answers to the same question. You have
the option of asking this question however many times you want though.
You may have 25 different answers and when you ask the 26th person, you
may finally get the answer you've been seeking. When you get that answer,
you'll know it. Suddenly, what you should do will seem clear and there
will be no more doubt as to the course that you should take. The question
will have turned into a fact that requires action.
An example of this type of question: A parent asks, "I have a five
with old with a specific disability. My 2 year old is displaying many
of the same symptoms. My five year old got a lot more services once he
had his diagnosis. Should I get a diagnosis on her now or wait until she
This question was asked of a panel of experts. The parent got three different
responses. One person responded that it took only one delay to receive
Early Intervention services, another stated that she was probably more
likely to see the problem since she'd had experience, and one told her
that she should get her diagnosis now, so she could receive services from
the school system when her child turned three. The last answer was probably
the answer the parent was seeking. She just wanted some confirmation that
what she wanted to do was right.
The three different answers to her question were all correct. Yes, her
child qualified for services now. Yes, due to her previous experience,
she probably was correct in her assumption and yes, she should get a diagnosis
now. The total of the answers gave her a more complete answer, but only
when you have a group of professionals do you receive that kind of answer.
Usually, it's a matter of asking the same question to different people
at different times before they all add up to such a complete answer.
So, as I stated at the beginning of this article - Ask until you get the
right answer. What you knew instinctively as a child was right.
Pat Linkhorn is an advocate/trainer/information
specialist with the Ohio Coalition for the
Education of Children with Disabilities.. She is also an experienced parent
and has two girls with special needs - autism and blindness due to prematurity.