What makes a preemie parent angry?
- Sweeping statements and generalisation?
- No accounting for parents views?
- Misleading newspaper headlines?
Or perhaps all three?!
Today on the Smallest Things Facebook page we shared a newspaper article with the leading title “Premature children should be treated as ‘Special needs’ pupils”. We asked you for your thoughts, and in the main you were angry.
“I totally agree that Teachers should receive relevant training on Prematurity (as should a lot of Healthcare professionals for that matter!) but to class a child as special needs based on Prematurity alone seems ludicrous. Surely each child should be assessed on an individual basis.”
“All children learn at and in different ways, every child should have the right to the schooling needs as an individual, not because they were premature, my eldest was a premmie and she didn’t need extra help, my second was a preemie and she needed extra help. It all depends on being an individual instead of being institutionalised into one way of thinking”
“Surely every child deserves to have their needs assessed on an individual basis. This is such a generalisation!!!”
“Each child is different. Your child’s strengths and weaknesses become apparent as they grow and develop and labels are given too often these days.”
“No way! Only one of my three prems is behind in development. They should be assessed as individuals”
These are only a small selection of your comments; you can read all the responses we have received and add your own by clicking here.
In a statement, Bliss Chief Executive Caroline Davey has said:
“We know from previous research that children born prematurely are at greater risk of behavioural and learning difficulties, and we think it is absolutely essential that, as this research suggests, children born prematurely should have more support when starting school, and that teachers should be adequately trained to deal with these children’s needs.
“However, we continue to believe that it is up to parents to decide if it is right for their child to delay starting school. Every child born prematurely has different needs based on a range of factors, and while one child may be ready to start school with their peers, another may not. Our evidence supports this, and we are confident that with the right care at birth and support throughout their development, children born premature can reach their full potential.”
It is encouraging to see that the response from the UK’s leading premature baby charity echo’s so many parents views and is testament to the work that they do in supporting families and facilitating parent choice.
As a preemie parent and as a children’s occupational therapist I have my own personal views.
Firstly; misleading headlines cause confusion and upset (although they do of course sell newspapers!). That “premature children should be treated as ‘special needs’ pupils by teachers” is not a recommendation and does not feature in the original research which can be read here. It is nothing more than a headline.
Secondly; as a parent I know my child, I know our family and I’d like to think I’d know what is best for my son born at 30 weeks…. but, I second guess myself, wonder about the ‘what if’s’, and crave the reassurance that I am doing the right thing. For these reasons I am so thankful for the work of organisations such as Bliss and Summer Born Children for the support and advice they offer to parents of babies born to soon.
And finally, as an Occupational Therapist I understand child development and neonatal care. I know how critical early intervention can be and recognise that every child is unique. I have advocated in my professional life for all children born prior to 32 weeks to be followed up in their infant years, each assessed as individuals and given appropriate support, if required, according to their own individual needs.
But you know what – premature babies are special!
I will leave you with my favourite response to today’s headline…
“I’d like them to do an article on the resilience and determination of the premature child….Definitely worth reading about that. Mine is feisty, determined and makes me proud every day.”