May 25, 2015

The Helicopter Mom

This entry is one that was requested by a reader.  If you haven't heard it before, the term "helicopter mom" is used to describe a mom to hovers over her child in an educational setting.  Just like a helicopter.

There is a difference between a helicopter mom and an advocate.  

We have got to make sure our kiddos get what they need and deserve in order to succeed.  We may annoy the crap out of everyone, but at a time when are children aren't able to advocate for themselves, it's imperative.  Parents and educators need to remember: Fair does not mean everyone gets the same thing.  Fair means everyone gets what they need to succeed.  If Brandon ever had an educator or therapist that didn't appreciate my level of involvement or commitment, I would be concerned.

I've told every one of Brandon's teachers and therapists over the years that I will probably annoy them at some point.  I am on top of it.  I want to know what's going on (good and bad) because that is how I can help my son succeed.  I'm not going to tell his teachers or therapists how to do their jobs (at least not the team he has now...they know what they're doing), but I know Brandon better than anyone.  Not taking my input would be a mistake, and to be frank, unacceptable.

Some things that may seem trivial could have a lot more significance to an autism mom than you might realize.

Take sunscreen for example.

Just the other day (at the start of summer) I said to Brandon's teacher, "I know I'm being annoying about the sunscreen, but did you put  it on him this afternoon?"  Brandon is very fair.  I don't want him to even get a hint of a sunburn.  If he does he will be uncomfortable.  So, things that would normally bother him but not cause a meltdown, would seem more devastating to him because he's already irritable.  The more tantrums and meltdowns we have, the slower his progress.  Brandon's teachers get it.  They're awesome.  Me being borderline obsessive about the sunscreen is not me being a helicopter mom.  It is me making sure Brandon has his best chance.  It seems so minor, but the reality is that a sunburn could drastically change our lives for a couple days.

I was sure to explain this reasoning to his teachers (even though they probably already knew) because I do want to make sure they understand it's not about me being the boss or being in charge.  It's all about what is best for Brandon.  So what I'm saying is I'm still going to be annoying about things, but letting his teachers know why helps to foster a positive working relationship with them.  The relationship they have with me is a huge factor in Brandon's success.  We are partners.  They will always get the respect they deserve from me.

I have been incredibly fortunate that the teachers and therapists around Brandon are fully committed to his success.  I know of other people who do not have this experience.  Parents who that don't feel that support are in for the fight of their lives...fighting for the most important thing in their lives.  Can you imagine what the stress of that would do to a person?  I pray that I never have to find out.


  1. This: "There is a difference between a helicopter mom and an advocate." Yes, exactly!


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