Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Being Dismissed from Services

I heard those dreaded words today. "I'm afraid that most likely your child doesn't qualify for services anymore." I paused afraid that if I responded too soon I'd yell or cry. I asked a few clarifying questions, blinking back tears of panic. I held my own for nearly the entire conversation. And then the therapist said, "You should be so proud, Mom. He's made so much progress." Then, I cried.

The truth is he has made so much progress. The truth is I am very proud of him. Still, the truth is I hate hearing those words. Every time a specialist says to me that one of my children "no longer qualifies" for services, bile-like panic rises in my chest.

"But he still has such anger issues," I said. And, "His impulsiveness gets in his way on a daily basis," I added. Doesn't she know? Can't she see the things I see? "I did tell you that he pulled a knife on his brother last week, didn't I?" Somehow she had to see that despite her folder full of data she was missing something.

We talked some more. I cried the whole time. I heard everything she said and understood it. I work in special education, I'm fully aware of the qualification process for services at school and that the qualification requirements for services at school is very different than the qualification requirements in the medical/professional arena. I get it, but still I was reeling inside, wondering what the effects of this dropped service would be for my son.

At one point, the therapist looked me right in the eyes and asked, "How are you doing? You have a lot on your plate with your job and your kids, are you taking care of you?"

It was a sucker punch to the gut. It's no secret that I'm not the pinnacle of self-care. Nor is it a secret that I have a crazy life. I've had people say we should have a reality TV show because you simply cannot make this stuff--my life--up. I had one dear friend compare my life to Murphy's Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. She offered to have a warning sign made for my front door. Warning: Murphy's Law in full effect. Enter at your own risk.

The bruising blow was this: I suddenly realized that my panic wasn't truly for my boy. Or, at least, it wasn't only for my boy. With a blaze of clarity, I realized that I wasn't panicked for him alone; I was panicked for me, too. When my son no longer qualifies for a service and loses that support, I lose it too. It's one less person I have in my corner, cheering on not only my kid, but me as well. One less specialist is one less person I can talk to who understands what my day-to-day life is really like. One less person who sees all that I have to wrestle with everyday and appreciates how hard it can be. One less person who loves my child without judgement. One less person who fights for my son's progress. One less person who sees the good and helps me see it too. It's not just one less person on my son's team. It's one less person on my team.

Of course, I didn't tell the therapist about my revelation when it struck. Perhaps some day I will tell her. But, for today, I was able to stop crying. Awareness can be liberating. My son has made a ton of progress and the truth is we will survive being dismissed from this service because he's in a place, we're in a place, where it's not as critical anymore. And that's okay. That's as it should be. We should all hope and pray for a day when our children no longer qualify for services. But I recognize that's not always the case. It hasn't always been the case for us. Sometimes funding is cut. Sometimes insurance won't pay. Sometimes specialists won't listen. Sometimes doctors and teachers belittle you and dismiss your concerns entirely. Sometimes you don't even know who to go to for the help you need. I have had to fight for my boys since before they were born. And I'll continue to do so when it is truly warranted.

Here's what I want my future-self to remember: Progress is miraculous, every inch of it. Don't ever hold on to things your child no longer needs. Recognize that you'll be okay, too, mama. We don't make progress in a vacuum. Odds are that if your child is progressing and no longer qualifying for services, then you've made a hefty amount of progress, too.


Rachel Dartt said...

I love you! I have wanted to tell you how amazing I think you are for a while, but life has happened and I haven't seen you at church. You are one of the most amazing women I know & how much you have fought for your kids has inspired me! Keep going! Keep fighting! And most importantly keep Loving!! 💗💗💗

M. Leigh Marrott said...

Thank you, Rachel. I totally get how life just happens and suddenly you're six months down the road and wondering how you got there. You're doing amazing things too!

Annie Cash said...

Miranda, This was so beautiful. I admire you in many ways and you have beautiful kids. Count me as one person on your team! You are doing a great job on this tough journey and gaining depth and wisdom. I loved reading your thoughts today. I could feel them in my heart.

M. Leigh Marrott said...

Annie, I'm blessed to know you're on my team. Please know the feeling is more than mutual. I totally have your back!

m Keshler said...

Remember - you are never truly without those supports. There is a long line of folks who will always have an ear to hear, a shoulder to cry on, and will always love you and your kids!

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