Jane Holmes: Professionals just need to tell the truthBy Jane Holmes
October 22, 2012
Jane Holmes is chief executive of Wokingham-based charity Building for the Future which provides support and activities for disabled children.
She set up the charity after her daughter Kitty was born with severe cerebral palsy.
Being economical with the truth, especially when it is done in order to try and manipulate someone or to mislead them, is ten times worse than lying in my book.
Someone did it to me recently without realising I already knew all the facts.
Actually this was over something irrelevant that I couldn't have cared less about, but as they say, there's nowt so queer as folk.
But imagine when someone holds back information about your child. From the moment my daughter was born, we have rarely been given the absolute facts.
Granted, that is often because the professionals simply don't know, but often they don't even tell you that.
In our case we were given a very poor prognosis, within hours of our daughter's birth.
Told she would die before her first birthday, wouldn't communicate and would need constant medical attention, day and night.
Happily this is far from the case today, but still we find ourselves subjected to editing of what we know to be the truth or to other people's guesswork.
The thing that frustrates us as her parents, most of all, are the assumptions people make about our daughter's intellect.
She can't talk or walk, she looks disabled and finds it difficult to focus her eyes sometimes, but that does not mean that she doesn't understand.
It might take the expertise of a professional to work with her in order for that understanding to be fully demonstrated, but that doesn't mean it isn't there.
Sweeping judgements and speculation are unhelpful, hurtful and frankly, just plain lazy.
So my plea is for professionals to listen to the parents more and to be completely honest.
If you don't know the answer to a question a parent is asking you, then simply say so.
They will respect you far more.
Parents might be guilty of being over-positive about their child's potential, but they are rarely wrong.
Nobody has a better idea of what their child is capable of than his or her parents.
So don't lie to us, speculate wildly or hazard an educated guess. Just tell the truth.