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Winter 2000 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Jean Robinson, Family Support Specialist, TSBVI, VI Outreach

Working with parents is one of my joys in life so I am puzzled, at times, when I am asked to speak to teachers and other professionals on "How to Work with Parents." Over the years I have collected tips and techniques from a variety of sources, the most practical and enlightening coming from parents. I have found that during interactions between parents and professional that attitudes can say more than words. Who we are, our assumptions, values, and experiences, become a part of our message whether or not it is intentional. I recently discovered this piece written by Dr. Leo Buscaglia in the The Disabled and Their Parents: A Counseling Challenge published by Charles B. Slack, Inc. in 1975. The late Dr. Leo Buscaglia, a well-known, best-selling author, was in the field of special education for over 40 years and he wrote this piece over 20 years ago. I think it still holds true today.


The basic rights of the family having a child with special needs might include, as a start, the following:

The right to sound medical knowledge regarding their child's physical or mental problem.

The right to some form of continual re-evaluation of their child at definite, periodic intervals and a thorough, lucid explanation of the results of the findings.

The right to some helpful, relevant, and specific information as to their role in meeting their child's special physical and emotional needs.

The right to some knowledge of the educational opportunities for a child such as theirs and what will be required for later admission for additional formal schooling.

The right to knowledge of the community resources available for assistance in meeting the family needs: intellectual, emotional, and financial.

The right to knowledge of the rehabilitation services in the community and the resources available through them.

The right to some hope, reassurance, and human consideration as they meet the challenge of raising a child with special needs.

The right to some hope in seeing their child's potentials instead of forever concentrating upon his imperfections.

The right to good reading material to help them acquire as much relevant information as possible.

The right to some interaction with other parents who have children with disabilities.

The right to actualize their personal right as growing, unique individuals, apart from their children.