Dear Professionals:  What Parents Want to Tell You

By Muriel Hykes, March 1999

1. Never predict the outcome for a specific case. You can give general advice, but caution that nobody can predict how this child will turn out.

2. Do not write off a complaint as, "Goes with the syndrome." Just because a child has one diagnosis, does not mean that all his other problems are
due to that.

3. Refer the parents to a parent-support group. This will save you a lot of questions as well.

4. Be open. Realize that the parents are going to be looking for a cure and will pursue all avenues. Respect that. The parents are supposed to be the cheer-leaders.

5. When the parents are depressed and in shock, you be the cheer-leader.  Find something good to say about the patient's development. Praise the

6. Do not promote a therapy mindset. They should take time to enjoy the child as a child. And constant therapy appointments are no fun for the
child either. Child first.

7. Promote a team approach to the child's rehabilitation; practice "family-centered" care. Do not be surprised if other doctors have told the parents conflicting information or failed to tell them something.  Coordinate care with all other team members.

8. Understand that most parents are new to this...all the medical terms, conditions and stuff. So please go slow and be patient with us.  But on the other hand, recognize that some of us are very well versed on our kids situation, and you need to address us as your peer in the treatment of our child.

9. Most importantly, remember that your patients are little human beings who feel and hear, and do things just like other people. It just takes them
a longer to achieve those goals. Be careful how you talk about them in front of them. Self-esteem, confidence, and acceptance major needs for everyone. Imagine what the child can become. Dream big.