Thursday, June 18, 2015

5 things a doctor wishes parents knew about 'disabled' kids

5 things a doctor wishes parents knew about 'disabled' kids

By Dr. Peter Rosenbaum

1. The most important word and idea we can share with parents—from the beginning of their journey into “childhood disability”—is DEVELOPMENT. Children—including those with disabilities—change and develop; as parents we develop as our kids grow and change, and as a result we usually become more skilled as parents. Of course some children’s development will likely always remain compromised and therefore slow.

2. Parenting is a dance led by the children! If we can be attentive to our kids and adapt to their emerging skills and abilities, we parents will probably do okay!

3. Be ready to brag about your “disabled” child every day. Professionals spend too much time on problems, and what kids can’t do. Forget about conventional milestones and the “normal” way of doing things. Look at what’s working, what you like, and what makes your child special! This is important for every child, regardless of the extent of their impairments.

4. Don’t blindly accept what professionals (or even your family members) tell you your child will NOT be able to do. Professionals are not good at predicting the future of an individual child (though we wish we could) and anyway, the kids never listen to what we say!

5. Parenting any child is a marathon, and not a sprint. Keep at least one eye—and often both eyes—on the big picture, and the future. This helps us to plot a course to adulthood. That helps us help our children to become as competent, self-assured and self-confident as possible, regardless of how well they can do this or that activity or skill.

Dr. Peter Rosenbaum is the inaugural recipient of Holland Bloorview’s Medal of Excellence in Childhood Disability. Peter is co-founder of the CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research at McMaster University and was chief of medical staff here at Holland Bloorview from 1997 to 2000. He revolutionized the health model for children with cerebral palsy by developing the Gross Motor Function Classification System, which is used worldwide.


Thanks for a terrific article. I can't stop bragging about my 26 year old son who has autism. It has been a long and often difficult journey but he delights us in ways we never imagined could happened when he was diagnosed 24 years ago!

We parents know this! It's the doctors who often don't. Maybe they need to read this article and stop making predictions or focusing on conventional milestones when they don't apply.

Great article which should be read by all parents of children with disabilities and the medical and educational professionals who support them. As a parent of a girl with 22q 11.2 Deletion Syndrome ( and as a Trustee of a UK charity ( I have always believed that people with disabilities can be achievers they just have to do it in their own time and in their own way.

At The22Crew we ask our members to celebrate achievements every week by posting "Friday Achievements" in our closed Facebook group to recognise and celebrate all achievements. This not only rewards the achievers but gives encouragement to other people with the condition and their families.


We started with #4 after hearing.... nothing. The typical "wait and see" prescription didn't mesh well with us and we began intense therapy shortly after he was diagnosed at 4 months. Made all the difference in the world. I think the next Post should be '10 thing I wish every parent of a disabled child would tell/ask their doctor' Like Dr. Rosenbaum says.. focus on the positive gains not the negative impediments.