When people debate what to say to parents when their kids have problems, they say, “Parents don’t want to know”, but I say that if the parents had not thought something was wrong, they would never have come to see me. After years of following what I believe my job is – to highlight the challenges and the gifts and make sure kids develop without obstacles – I feel very confident telling the truth. My reports are the truth and nothing but the truth, and when I do not know exactly what the problem is, I recommend seeing someone who does.
Shauna’s mom called me very concerned. “My daughter Shauna is a wonderful, sensitive girl, but something’s wrong with her”, she said.
Over the years, I have learned to trust parents’ gut feelings. They do not always know what might be wrong, but something makes them uncomfortable and together, we find out what it is and help their child. “Mom knows best” (or dad) is right every time.
Shauna was a 12-year-old girl who loved dancing and social interaction (kinesthetic), although her mom and dad were very academic (digital) and did not really understand why it took her so long to do her homework or why it was hard for her to concentrate on her projects.
“She is very tired, but she is always happy when she dances or hangs out with friends”, her mom told me.
During the 3 sessions I had with Shauna, I did not find any learning difficulties, although there were gaps in her reading.
When I had a meeting with both her parents, I explained Shauna’s communication style (kinesthetic), which means she was emotionally vulnerable in times of stress. I showed them her assessment and pointed out 3 areas of reading on the test that were low. I asked them if during the periods when these things were taught at school something happened that could have interfered with Shauna’s learning.
“Something like sickness, stressful time at home or a big change”, I suggested.
Shauna’s mom and dad looked at each other. They could recall things that explained every one of the periods I asked about.
Then, we discussed Shauna’s dad’s concern about her being tired. In the next part of my report, I wrote that Shauna’s energy level was low and I recommended seeing a doctor.
“She is growing and dancing many hours a week. This is why she’s tired”, Shauna’s mom said, but I felt differently.
“It’s better to go and find out everything is OK than not to go and find out too late that you should have done something to help her”, I said to them, “Most problems are a lot simpler to fix if you discover them early”.
I gave them a workbook to help Shauna with her spelling and instructions to close the gaps in her reading and writing.
“Please tell her Ronit said she is awesome, because she is”, I told them before they left, “And ask her to send me emails”. During her assessments, Shauna and I had written each other emails. I would ask her about her day and she would reply with 3-5 sentences. I told her parents that reading my emails and writing back, together with the workbook, would make a difference.
This week, about 2 months after seeing Shauna’s parents, she replied to one of my emails. I bring the letter here for you to see for yourself. It is much longer than 3-5 sentences.
How are you? I hope that you are fine.
Sorry I haven’t been emailing you, it’s just that I was sick and really busy. I had blood tests and the doctors said that i am anemic and also had a mild strain of glandular fever. So i was really busy trying to catch up on my school work and dance.
I’m starting to feel a little better but still get really tired some days.
My holiday was great, it started with my cousin and her husband coming to visit us. I really enjoyed spending time with them. We also had a big wedding in our family, my other cousin got married and I had to do a special reading at their ceremony, everyone congratulated me on how well I read my speech.
I spent part of my holidays with my grandma and we went to the movies three times in the week.
Going back to school was good to see all my friends but bad because now I don’t get to sleep in!!!
Next week at school, we have a test. I am nervously excited!
I always remember the words you said to my parents about me: “Shauna is so awesome” and it makes me happy and think about you!!!
Thank you for thinking about me and emailing me. I promise that i will not take so long to reply again.
Speak to you soon
Two months is all she needed!
If you are a practitioner wondering whether to tell the truth or not, remember Shauna.
If you are a parent wondering whether you would like to know or not, remember Shauna.
It is much easier to fight the devil you know. Always.
This post is part of the series Telling Parents the Truth: