October 12, 2012

I Believe in My Son, Will You?

You're always gonna find
It was worth it
If you just believe

Suzie McNeil's lyrics from her song, Believe have been dancing through my head since Tuesday night. They are a reminder that although there have been plenty of times when I've felt uncertain about Carter's future, I've never stopped believing that he will someday communicate functionally.

On Tuesday night I gathered with a group of parents and professionals to take part in Holland Bloorview's screening of the movie, Certain Proof: A Question of Worth.

The movie is a feature documentary about three children living with significant communication and physical disabilities, who struggle against the public schools in an emotional battle to prove their worth.

*Take a look at the trailer:

After viewing the movie, I participated in a panel discussion and was given the opportunity to speak.

I introduced myself to the audience and shared that my 9 year old son, Carter uses a Vantage Lite speech device to communicate. I didn't speak of the challenges we've faced with the public school system. I didn't speak of the struggles we've had trying to find support for Carter with his device.

Instead I reflected on some things from the movie that truly resonated with me: the loss of parental dreams and the challenge of replacing those dreams, the concern that children who communicate differently are often ignored, and the importance of making sure those childrens' voices get heard. Carter, and others like him, should be given every opportunity to learn to communicate functionally and to practise their right to communicate.

Looking back on Tuesday night's discussion, I wish I'd spoken to the audience about my belief in Carter's abilities and about how important it is to believe in your child and not give up hope.

When one of the moms in the movie broke down crying after having taken her son, Josh to a speech clinic in North Carolina, my own tears pooled and threatened to flow. This mom believed with all her heart that her little boy had something to say and that he was capable of communicating and learning, but no one else believed it. She went to North Carolina in search of 'proof,' something that is so often required from kids with communication challenges, proof that Josh had something to offer.

The speech therapist confirmed that indeed her son was a bright little boy with communicative intent and the ability to learn. When given the right tools, a little guidance, some motivating activities and lots of time, her son, Josh 'proved' that his mom had been right all along, he really was 'in there.' She wasn't crazy after all.

When Josh engaged in activities with the speech therapist, I wanted to cheer. I felt like I was reliving those moments with Carter all over again - the doubts about his language progression, the wondering if there would ever be more to his communication than a few simple signs and gestures, it all came flooding back to me.

I get what it's like to have to 'prove' to others that your child has a lot to offer. I've experienced the feeling of being alone in the belief that there's a lot more going on in your child's head than he's able to demonstrate.

This movie illustrates the unfortunate truth, that kids with complex communication needs are held to a different standard than their typical peers. They continually have to prove themselves.

If only there were some way to relieve them of this burden of proof, to create greater acceptance and opportunity for them, to get others to believe in them like we, their parents do.

To those who doubt our kids, I leave you with this...

You will see things you'll never forget...if you just believe...

Our kids (and their parents) can move mountains with dreams!

Be sure to read Louise Kinross' blog post about Certain Proof on Bloom:
If You Don't Speak, You Don't Count, Families Find

*Those who subscribe to my blog by e-mail will have to click on the title to go directly into my blog to watch the movie trailer.


  1. Hi Stacey -- I agree. There has to be a person/parent facing the child who will take the time to "read" that child and learn that child's signals -- and just have the willingness to even "see" their body language etc. as signals in the first place. A lot of it is attitude!

  2. That movie clip looks great. The burden of proof thing makes me crazy. Of course there is someone "in there" It's our job to figure out how to bring them out. I wish the world would get on board and believe the best.

    1. I wish the world would get on board too! Thanks for your comment.