Meeting a child's needs

October 07, 2000

Meeting a child's needs

By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer

Mothers listened intently and nodded their heads in knowing agreement Saturday as John Budesky talked about the frustrations and rewards of parenting children with special needs.

Listening to find out the child's real needs is one of the most important things for parents and teachers to remember, said Budesky, executive director of the Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families.

Being able to laugh at yourself and knowing you aren't perfect is also essential, he said.

"Sometimes just getting by is an accomplishment," he said.

The title of Budesky's talk Saturday was, "Kids! Can't Live With Them; Can't Live Without Them."

But Budesky said he should have titled it, "Parents! Can't Live With Them; Can't Live Without Them."

"It's really what we can do as parents or people who work with children with special needs," he said.

The group of about 65 women included parents and teachers. They came together at South Hagerstown High School as part of the 13th annual Partners for Success Conference.


Partners for Success is a Washington County public schools program that helps parents negotiate the special education system and puts them in touch with other parents with similar challenges, said Parent Coordinator Carol Little.

Little's son developed brain damage at age 10 after catching Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. He is now 30.

Robin Michael, a special education teacher at Fountaindale Elementary, asked Budesky how she should respond to her two sons when they get discouraged by classmates' teasing.

"It's worse than I remember," she said.

Budesky said there is no easy answer, but he suggested steering children toward an activity they are interested in so they spend more time with children with similar interests.

"You're never going to get away from the mean people," he said.

Parents need to recognize that they will make mistakes and not be afraid to admit, even to their children, when they do something wrong.

When it comes to discipline, parents sometimes forget that children need to be told when they do something right instead of only when they do something wrong.

Praise the behavior and not the child, he said. And don't forget to show affection.

"It's unbelievable how many parents don't hug their children. That's an important thing," he said.

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