Finding the Button

It seems that this summer I am living in hotels. This week, I am lucky to be attending an International AER event. This acronym is truly a mouthful, but for those who are curious it stands for the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. It is mostly for professionals in the field of blindness, but there will be one session specifically for parents.

During the opening ceremonies, the keynote speaker was an entertainer, who happens to be blind, by the name of Tom Sullivan. While giving his motivational address, he made a comment that stuck with me. He said that a mother had once told him that her child could be motivated, she just had to find their “button”. My first thought was that the parent was a positive thinker, and her observation was insightful. My second thought was that she may have been a tad naive if she thought there was simply one button.

If I envision Eddie as a devise that simply needs to be switched on, I most certainly don’t see one big, red button. Instead, I see the panel on an airplane with more than a hundred switches, lights, dials, and indicators. It seems that every goal requires its own button and every milestone its own indicator. Just because we have successfully found the switch for potty training, doesn’t mean we have found the switch for eating with a fork. Thinking about the complicated dashboard that is Eddie, I feel like I need the equivalent of a pilot’s license to successfully navigate his way through life.

The positive outlook that one mother had, is not an easy attitude to carry every day. However, it is an important attitude to have with the professionals surrounding our children. All of us have been told at some point that our child would not do something. For example, I was told Eddie wouldn’t walk, and he has found that button. If I had believed that diagnosis, I wouldn’t have pushed for the services that demanded him to be mobile.

Simply believing there is potential motivation for any task, is the first step in believing our children can be successful. No matter how many buttons we have to find, the search must continue. The mother who mentioned the button was right on target. There always is a button, but somebody has to find it. As parents, we have to make sure the search goes on…even when we might be the only member of the search party.