The wise man is glad to be instructed, but a self-sufficient fool falls flat on his face.
I have a BEEF to pick with nearly every type of professional assisting our kids with chronic diagnoses or special needs.
Don't get me wrong -- We desperately need specialty groups and areas of expertise. Without intricate detailed wisdom in small, defined areas of concern, we would be utterly lost in helping our children
But there seems to be a pervasive, toxic attitude that poisons the hope of ever having different groups and specialties work together for the best possible outcome. It is silo thinking.
Although my own family has long been subjected to its corrosive effects, I only felt compelled to write about it when an I recently saw an ugly little piece of medical "professionalism" exposed. I was shocked when another mother and I were talking, both noticing that on one particular hospital team, a psychologist we both worked with was treated by the other specialists like he was a low-life nothing. Dismissive, arrogant, and tuned-out to what this psychologist had to bring to the table, these other doctors were treating him as if he were not at their professional level. Not only was this behavior offensive, it was also detrimental to the treatment of the children seen by this team.
I have personally had situations where one specialty group is not properly consulting with another specialty group, thereby misprescribing medication that put one of my children at peril. Without ever having had a previous discussion with me about it, I have also had one specialist give total treatment authority to another specialist rather than to me, the parent. Completely unacceptable!
At the crux of the problem, these professionals often fail to remember that a child is a whole person. They may talk a good talk, but in practice, completely fail to ponder how one disorder may be affecting another. This is maddening to a parent, who is not only with that child the majority of the time, but who also wants their child to experience optimal health.
It begs the question...
Aren't these the same people that were once inquisitive, wanting to solve problems and break open difficulties to explore for answers? When did these professionals suddenly decide that they would only deal with what is inside their own little box, looking at nothing beyond?
When does natural curiosity die in these people?
And it is not just in medical circles. Educational circles are also prone to silo thinking. Administration, which can sometimes be detached from the daily schoolroom function of a child, may override the decision of special education staff. Or the regular school staff can completely disregard how the special educational needs or special physical needs of a student are affected as they try to move a class collectively forward.
Fewer things can be more frustrating to a parent raising a child with special needs than having different pieces of all the moving parts working against each other rather than working in harmony. But how does it get better? What would this look like if it all worked correctly?
- Parents would be persistent, pleasant bridge-builders. This means that we do not pull out our "Mr. Angry Eyes" at our first inkling of something going awry. Coming into a situation with "guns ablazing" only earns you a reputation as a problem or difficult parent. It IS possible (and preferable) to assert yourself while being 100% respectful of all involved. Be persistent in explaining the difficulties. Be willing to do your part to move everyone out of their silos. And never stop asking good questions.
- Professionals, whether they be medical, psychological, physiological, or educational would all look outside of their own little box. They need to be big picture thinkers who are willing to see how their piece works in concert with the whole.
- Professionals would stop having an attitude of "that's not my job" and get out of their field if they have no desire to see our children reach their best potential. Rather than being "professional", this attitude actually marks a person as consummately unprofessional. No favors are done to anyone when someone who is unhappy and uncooperative stays in this sort of job with children.
- Professionals would take parents more seriously, rather than being dismissive. I personally have told doctors in the past, "You may know this disease better than I do, but I know how it behaves in my child better than you do." A medical license is not a license to be rude and arrogant.
- Everyone would to come together as a team, being more focused on problem-solving than on being inconvenienced. The best group I ever had the opportunity to work with was a grade school team who rallied to create the best IEP possible for one of my children. The homeroom teacher was uncooperative and moody, but the team fought to bring all of the moving parts together. And THEY. GOT. RESULTS! Within a year-and-a-half they had a child reading and writing to a grade appropriate level where this child was at a standstill prior to the plan being implemented. If only all school staff saw the value of working together in such a way!
PRAY: Lord, we all seem to get so stuck in our own little worlds with "silo thinking". That is easy for me, as a parent, to do as well. Help me to treat others with respect and mercy, while encouraging them to work together as a team. Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord!
~ Barb Dittrich