I admit, this is a strange title, but I wanted to get your attention.
It seems obvious that the reason you bring a caregiver into your life is to help with the care of your child. And that can take on many forms – physical care, personal care, or medical care.
No question, all of those are important tasks that need to be done every single day. And relieving you of these hands-on responsibilities, if only for part of the day, is one of the reasons you should definitely bring a caregiver into your life.
But the “care” part is only part of the equation … and the need. Life is way more than just “care”.
Here’s the thing. Your child is not his body (or her body). He HAS a body. He is not his personality. He HAS a personality. And, he is not his disability. He HAS a disability.
What he IS, is a life force who purpose and dreams need to be realized. We all are!
Maybe that sounds a bit over-the-top, even unrealistic. But consider this: the way we see the world and the language we use determines how we live our lives.
Put another way, how you and I see a person with a disability will determine our behaviour towards them and where we put our focus.
If we see the disability first, it’s difficult to see the complete person underneath. The focus becomes what the person cannot do – can’t walk without a walker, can’t hear without a hearing aid.
We can fall into the trap that the person’s main need in life is to be looked after. This can lead to us seeing that they need our charity and our sympathy.
Those involved in the medical profession – physicians, nurses, therapists – often fall partly into this trap because their focus is on pathology and deficits. That’s how they’ve been trained.
The main objective is, of course, to diagnose the deficit and determine a plan to fix, repair, or treat it. I remember one of Ben’s specialists told us his only goal was to make Ben comfortable. Mine were way more lofty for Ben!
Don’t get me wrong. If you’re having a heart attack, you need urgent medical attention. Nothing else matters. And you want the best doctor or nurse to provide that assistance.
However, I think you would agree that there is more to you than the fact you have heart disease (as an example). Your life is not defined solely in terms of it.
Unfortunately, for persons impacted with a disability, that CAN be how they are defined, especially by people who focus (mostly) on the disability and the care and treatment of it. The fact that the person with a disability is a person FIRST gets lost.
I hope you see where I’m going with this.
The World Health Organization’s definition of health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” So while it’s important to look for ways to treat or fix things, that’s only part of the solution.
There is so much more to your child than his/her disability – of course, you know that! And so your caregiver, who is likely with them a good portion of the day, cannot only focus on the care of your child.
You want a caregiver who is all-in. Who shows up every day to make your child’s day great!
Who is great at the care aspect but is also someone who isn’t focused on your child’s limits or constraints.
Who supports your child’s desires, hopes and dreams.
Who builds them up. And is even their cheerleader.
If that sounds far-fetched than I would say you’ve listened to the “experts” for far too long and they have muted your expectations.
Those caregivers I’m talking about are out there. Don’t settle for just “ok”.
You and your child are worthy of so much more!
If you haven't found that person yet, let us help you.
-- Mike --