Sunday, March 25, 2012

Modern Parenthood and Disabilities

We live in crazy, busy times. We're always rushing and we want to do it all. A career and a family need to fit our schedules  and we are led to believe that nothing ever suffers as a result. I'm not criticizing anyone for wanting to have a comfortable lifestyle, hey, I like nice things too. But it's hard not to see that for my  generation of young parents the upbringing seems to happen somewhere beside and in between the daily things that distract us. The pressure is great and the drive is enormous and sometimes you can't even afford to do it any other way.  Kids are raised by video games and TV's. I've met children who played Warcraft before they could read. But they get by. Some parents can't really afford to adopt any different kind of lifestyle and work hard just to make ends meet.

My mom quit her job when I was born, but it was a different time. Things seemed to have been flowing a little slower back then. It was easier to make it, although my father did end up getting a second job. In communist Poland it was pretty common for the mother to become a stay at home parent with a disabled child. Mine decided it she needed to to make sure I'd get  all those hours of exercises in a day, extra care and attention and that my brother could also benefit from her presence. My parents gave up, changed their lives and goals for me. Altered where they wanted to be and what they wanted to accomplish. I sometimes wonder if that kind of approach would be possible today. Disability isn't something  that you can schedule. That you can pencil in between your tasks. I've met parents who give their kids maybe two, maybe three hours of physical or occupational therapy a week. And even that becomes a problem.  Getting there, driving, making it work.Now, I'm  not really a critic of these approaches, but as with everything you need to make it a continuous everyday commitment for it all to have any kind of benefit. Doing it twice a week, if that's all you do, probably it is not going to work. I see it with our Conductive Education program too.  For some parents, scheduling and transportation becomes a really big issue and they end up attending our Academy sporadically. They can't make it every day. And yes, the children suffer as a result. Perhaps something is better than nothing, because there is no other way, what can you do?  Disabilities seem incompatible with modern world.

On the other end our Summer Camp is always busy. Parents want to do something that will help their children, that will perhaps make up for an entire year of doing  very little. Because it's easier to commit to something short term. It's doable, workable to do it for six weeks out of a year.  Is it the same as doing it every day for the other ten months? Of course not.  That is the tragedy of our  times. Not to say that these people are bad parents. Some barely make it from day to day. Some are poor and uneducated, some struggle as single parents. As much as you want to help your child  you can only work within the means you have. America doesn't have a social and healthcare system developed in a similar fashion we so in Europe. And yes, it's often criticized, may be ineffective and will probably go bankrupt at some point. But right now it could really help those parents. Conductive Education, the method we use is not well recognized by the medical community, it's not covered by insurance and we don't offer transportation. Those parents are on their own.

One thing I will say for mine. We didn't have much, but they always found a way to make it work, be it extra jobs for my dad or some work in the West. I do think part of it was mentality. My rehabilitation was more an adopted lifestyle than just something we did for an X hour a week, which what it seems like today. In, out, you're done and on to the next thing. Somebody else does it for you. The sad thing is, disability needs that extra time, that extra care and some things you neglect you may never make up for.

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