So you might be wondering what is parent training, is it like a baby class for a new parent? Is it like a birthing class for an expecting couple? No, and no we aren’t expecting.
The kind of parent training I’m talking about is the kind for parents who have kids with disabilities or delays. In general I’m grateful for the extra help when I need it, and in theory I think it’s great.
My son mr. L has autism and has 12 hours of ABA (applied behavioral analysis) therapy every week. (I know ABA can be controversial but we’ll save that for another post). Anyways, with that ABA therapy, we use insurance to help pay for it, and to qualify I have to go to parent training every week.
I mean I get it, insurance doesn’t want to pay for ABA if it’s not going to be practiced outside the office. And the key to getting ABA used out side of the office is to have it practiced in the school or to have the main caregiver implement it on a daily basis. If the schools are not willing to make time for his therapist to sit in their classroom, the majority of the responsibility then falls to the parent- aka me and my husband Michael.
At the beginning of this journey we call Autism, Michael and I were both college students and are schedules were more flexible. So we both went to every parent training, and at that time we were with a different ABA office who only required parent training 1-2 times a month. Now though, it’s 4 times a month and Michael works full time so the responsibility is on me.
During parent training I meet with my son’s ABA therapist and we go over mr, L’s progress. We go over his success and his struggles and we brainstorm ideas for progress. Then we go over his current work plan and if my other kids are acting agreeable I practice with mr. L and learn exactly what he’s doing so I can implement it at home.
Again, in theory this is great. But I don’t need 4 sessions to do this and honestly I’m already doing this because I’m a hands on and involved mom. How am I doing this? I naturally do this at drop off and pick up because I care how his session went and I care that it’s going to start off on the right foot.
When I drop mr. L off at therapy I tell his technician or his therapist how his day went and how his previous evening went if it pertains to his current goals and ABA work. I give his team a heads up if school went well so they can jump right in to his work, and I let them know if he had a rough day so they know to ease him in and possibly take thing easier. I do the work at home naturally because I want his time spent away from me to pay off, to be worth it.
His therapist also sends me text reminders about things they are working on and tips they would like me to help with at pick up, and in response I send her texts to let her know how his programming is going at home.
The point of parent training is to get parents involved and to help parents do the ABA programming at home. So when I’m told I have to do this 4 times a week I feel insulted. I feel like they are telling me that I’m a bad mom. That they don’t think I’m doing enough and that I’m a crap mom who isn’t doing anything. Because my child has a disability that automatically makes it my fault and that if I had done something different, if I wasn’t such a crappy mom and if I had cared more, my son wouldn’t have autism.
Mandatory parent training every week makes me feel like they think I’m too dumb to keep my kids alive, let alone that I’m capable of helping them learn basic life skills to succeed in life.
I think what adds to these feelings is that little miss A has a speech delay and we have in home speech 4 times a month for her too.
For the record I reached out to her dr about her speech delay and I requested she get tested and I signed for her in home help every week. But even though I know it’s in her best interest because I don’t want her having to play catch up for the rest of her education I feel like again that there is this stigma like it’s my fault.
Instead of reading with my kids 30 min every night it should be 2 hours, and instead of singing to my kids and talking to them from day one, I should throw my phone away, delete my Facebook account and commit every second of my life to my children’s every minute of existence.
It’s frustrating because when I have a question I’ll ask, and when I think my child needs something I’ll speak up. So when I get talked to about stuff I already know I feel like these professionals are questioning my character as a mother. I feel motherhood is sacred, so when I feel my level of commitment is questioned I’m insulted.
But at the end of the day I suck it up, I schedule the appointment, I show up, and I participate. I do this for my kids, I do this because I believe in building a good team for my children. I know these people mean well and are in their profession because they care. It just sucks.
It sucks that I’m not enough. It sucks that I’m there everyday 24/7, I show up, I work hard, I love, I cry, I care and it’s not enough.
It sucks that I have elementary education training, that I read all I can about autism and ABA therapy and that I’m proactive and a big proponent of early intervention… But I’m not enough.
So I’ll keep going to ALL the parent trainings, the IEP’s, parent teacher conferences, etc.. and I’ll keep putting in the request to my son’s ABA insurance to lower the amount of parent trainings to 1-2 times a month….
Because ya know, between my kids going to different schools, driving them everywhere they need to be, laundry, dishes, cooking, dr appointments, church responsibilities, children’s play group, making time for the occasional date night, attempting to have mom friends, trying to remember that family relationships exist, calling my grandmother every week, and then trying to remember that “me time” is important… Let me just schedule all those parent trainings too.
Do you have mandatory parent training? Do you hate mandatory training in general? Or just a hectic schedule that drives you a little bonkers too? Let me know about it in the comments below.
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