The games we play

All parents wonder when their child will accomplish a goal.  Parents whose child has a disability play a vicious game with themselves. The game is called, “Will my child ever….”

Will my child ever roll over?
Will my child ever stand up?
Will my child ever say my name?
Will my child ever speak?
Will my child ever walk?
Will my child ever say she loves me?

We play this game from the moment we are told our children are different than “perfect” one we were promised. We play this game in hospitals, doctor’s offices, therapy rooms and playgrounds.

Will my child ever use a swing?
Will my child ever spend an afternoon on the field and not the occupational therapy room?
Will my child ever have a month without a doctor’s visit?

We play this game, over and over. We torture ourselves by wondering will our child ever have a normal experience. It doesn’t matter what milestone they triumph over, we still wonder if our child will ever do the next one.

Will my child ever learn her ABC’s?
Will my child ever learn how to count?
Will my child ever learn to toilet herself?
Will my child ever learn to make friends?

The truth is, our children might never. They may never learn to speak. They may never learn to dress themselves. They may never be able to use a playground or jump over a rope.

The honesty is, that if you stop playing will my child ever than you set them up for failure. I’ve tried to stop playing the game. Until I realized by playing the game I was challenging my child and her team to defy that first doctor who told us our child would never do all that she has done.

It takes patience. It takes stubbornness.  It takes both whine and wine. There will be tantrums (sometimes by the team). There will be moments that make you shout for joy. Like Chutes & Ladders, the will my child ever game will have huge gains and heartbreaking regressions.

Today was a jump for joy day. After years of trying to trying to get Bridget to learn her ABC’s, last May we stopped playing the game. Stopped is the wrong word. We changed the rules of the game. Instead of teaching her letters, we would focus on teaching her sight words. We labeled everything in the house. We pointed out words. We used pictures with words. It took time, but we got her team at school on board. A spark was lit within Bridget.

At school.

At school she would read. At home she refused to do her “homework”.  She would have such tantrums I wanted to give up.

The teachers recommended I try a reward system. I refused and was proven wrong.  I tried working with timing (do not let her on her IPad after school do homework right away). I was proven wrong.  Today on the way home from school, I warned Bridget we would be doing homework.  I bribed promised Bridget that after she read her book she would have Fig Newtons and be allowed to watch her video on my Kindle. (Aside–she has an IPad I do not get why my Kindle was the award).

Then this happened.

A lot of prompting, still. But today, we won the “Will my child ever” read game. Now we play the will my child ever read without a bribe game.


Bridget’s school uses the EDMark reading program. It may or may not work for your child. Using pictures and labels worked for Bridget. It may or may not work for your child.

But you will never know what will work until you try and promise yourself that one day you will win the game.

2 thoughts on “The games we play

  1. Louise

    🙌🏽👍🏼❤️ It is truly amazing what happens when we “presume competence” (not my phrase so quotes, reference available upon request 😉). We do so with typically developing children why not ALL? It is a guiding principle of any intervention and a lesson well learned if we can learn to apply it to ourselves as well.



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