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The family does have many strengths when it comes to helping with Son B. As stated in the Family Listening Project, the family works together when taking Son B to and from school, but they also have made a good strength at taking Son B to and from other places. When talking to the mother, she said, “Our oldest son is good about helping us run to the store and get groceries if I am working or my husband is busy.
We work very well together to make it as easy and controlled as possible.” This is a strength because the family is willing to lend a hand when it is needed. The family can rely on each other and know that they will be there to help.
Another strength is how organized the family is. They have a schedule made out to help keep Son B on a daily routine. The mother always drops him off and the father is always there to pick him up.
They give Son B activities to do when he comes home while the parents cook dinner. This is a strength because being organized helps Son B as well as the family stay on top of things.
The third strength is a strength that the mother pointed out to me. She had mentioned that the family’s communication is their best strength. The communication between each other keeps things running smooth. Whenever something occurs, such as running late, they can call another family member and they will be there to help. The family also talks about what they are feeling and how they could make things better. This is a major strength because, without communication, the family would not continue to grow in a positive direction. Communication is the key to any successful relationship.
After listening to the family talk about their strength of communication, it showed me that they have the strength of problem solving as well. They start by talking about how they are feeling and what they can do to fix this. They work on the things that needed changing and then put a new method into play. This is good because no matter what is thrown at them, they can overcome the challenge.
The family has the strength of willingness to learn. Not everybody is open-minded and willing to learn. The mother thought that this was a strength of the family as well. The family is willing to go and talk to other families and express what they know. They also listen to ways that can help make home life a little easier. The family likes to know ways to help their son that they may not have thought of.
Enjoying the little things more often has to be one of the best strengths they have. As most families just take time to celebrate the big accomplishments in life, such as birthdays and holidays, this family enjoys spending dinner together and makes it known. They celebrate whenever Son B has a good week at the Rainbow Center without having any issues. They find happiness in seeing their sons interacting. The mother had told me, “Seeing your son walk for the first time is exciting, but seeing your son walk for the first time when he is four hits your heartstrings a little more.”
The family needs more help from other families who are dealing with the same problems as them. They also need more people for Son B to work on his communication with. The Rainbow Center does well, but when he is not there, he needs more help. They need local places that can offer him speech therapy. The family also needs a place to take Son B to for when he gets sick or has doctor’s appointments. The parents cannot take off from work all the time and do not always have people to watch Son B. This makes it hard for the family. Another need that the family has is extra support. The family would benefit from support groups.
I plan to make the family a resource outline. It will be called the Assistant Log. I will be looking up and finding different places for Son B to go to get therapy that is close to his home as well as find helpers to watch him when the family is at work. I would like to provide the names, numbers, locations, emails, as well as a brief description of who and what they provide. I plan on talking with the special education director at the local high school and finding out places and people they recommend as well as looking online. I decided to do this as my project because I believe having a list of people planned out with information provided will help the family. They will be able to contact the people and places on the list as well as have a description of what they do and when they are available. The family is very well organized, and I believe this would benefit them greatly.
Going into the interview I felt that I knew the family well and that they were my family’s friends. I did not realize I did not know that much about them as a family. I feel like I bonded with the family on a higher level than I was. I gained their trust when talking about their life and was able to empathize and partway understand what they are going through. I do not believe I will ever fully understand what they are going through unless I have a child-like Son B. I did feel uneasy and a little uncomfortable at the beginning. I talked to the mother the most and at some points, I felt as if I was intruding. I did not know how they would react when I asked some of my questions but they made me feel comfortable and confident in asking. I was taking a lot of notes during the interview and made sure to ask questions about what they were saying. Instead of just firing questions at them, I made sure to make it a conversation more than an interview. I also made sure to keep eye contact as much as possible to let them know I was paying attention and to show respect.
I learned more from this project than I have from reading books about special needs. To listen to how a family system works with a disabled child is much more meaningful than to read about it. I learned that just because a family looks strong on the outside does not mean that they are not cracked. I also learned that people sympathize with these families thinking they are weak when in reality these families are strong. I think this will impact the family of my students as well as my students in a positive manner. I have a better understanding of what these families go through and how they feel. I also think it will help me on how to talk to them. The families do not want sympathy, but they want empathy. They want you to feel with them, not for them. I think that was a key learning moment for me and I plan to keep it with me. If I could go back and redo this interview, I think I would have interviewed the family in two different settings. I would have liked to interview one time with the whole family in the room and another time with just one parent in the room. I would have liked to have seen if the responses were different and why they were.
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