Exactly a year later, I received an invite from both parents. "Would you please come over for dinner? We'd like to spend some time with you to talk about our child. We have had reports from the school about behavioral problems..." As we talked some more I realized that they had chosen not to follow through with any of the steps we had set up. The child was a year older and the issues were firmly entrenched. So we went through the whole set up again...I didn't have anything new to say. I reminded them gently that if their child was tested, it would shed some light on what she needed. If they disagreed with the result they could always reject it.
This was a year ago...the mom just called again because the school was very concerned and would not be able to support the child as things were. What was she to do?
About two months ago, I spent considerable time with another mom...detailed mails full of questions and answers. She'd get so excited at some of my questions...'That's exactly what happens! How did you know that?" etc. It ended the same way...at the end she said, she had to think about it because everyone around her said "Your child will grow out of it. You are over reacting." and of course, the ubiquitous "Every child is unique."
Recently my former coworker forwarded a newspaper clipping about a former student of mine. The parents moved across the country to be able to send the child to that school. At the end of the year review, the parents were asked to get certain evaluations done because there was a gap between the child's potential and progress. They thought about it and decided that they didn't want the evaluation. The child moved to a different school. A few years later I found out that the child moved every two years to a different program. After 6 years, the parents were now looking at the recommendation made by the team of professionals in my former workplace.
It is the parents' prerogative to decide whether they want to find out what is going on with their child, the right way to help and who will provide the services. Professionals see so many children that they can pick up on patterns that others may not. They offer suggestions based on their roles. This freedom of choice exists up to a point...mostly when the child is very young. As the child grows older other factors take over and parents are forced to take action.
When someone recommends a course of action involving evaluations and therapy, it is not because they are finding fault with your child. It is because there is something which prevents your child from reaching his or her full potential. If you address the needs at a young age, then the gap between your child and a typically developing peer can be bridged or minimized.
When you accept that your child has some learning or behavioral needs (and is still perfect in your eyes) you are preparing your child for the future. It takes a lot of courage.