I have my performance review coming up for work and I couldn’t help but chuckle while filling out the self evaluation portion. Good at juggling multiple projects? Check! Adapts well to change? You bet!
But I wasn’t thinking about my job performance… I was thinking about my performance as a mom of a special needs kid. If you think about it, being the parent of a child with disabilities develops some very positive workplace skills!
The lesson? Hire a special needs mom! She’ll get the job done!
Here are some of my favorites…
“Ability to take on new tasks and responsibilities.”
Yes, you can do this! When you became a parent there’s a very good chance you had no idea what you were signing up for. Maybe you had specific images in your mind of what life with your new baby would look like or maybe you felt like you were ready for anything… but you probably weren’t expecting to be starting your journey into the world of disability. But you did and you conquered it. You took on that new task and responsibility and mastered it!
“Manages competing demands and is able to handle multiple projects and/or tasks at the same time.”
Three doctor’s appointments in one day? Maybe an IEP meeting then a follow up with your advocate while planning dinner (aka ordering pizza through an app on your phone) and sending in a meds refill to the pharmacy? Are you kidding me? Yeah, you can manage competing demands!
“Learns from previous disappointments or failures and develops alternative solutions for the future.”
Ouch! That one hits a little too close to home. Often when raising a child with disabilities we hit disappointments or failures. Those failures may be our own or the failures of professionals we’ve worked with. I hate to call anything our kids do “failures,” but setbacks in development sure can feel like “disappointments.” So what do you do? You develop alternative solutions for the future, whether that’s a new medication protocol, a new therapy or even just taking a few steps back and letting everyone regroup. There’s always an alternative solution.
“Develops innovative approaches and ideas to meet challenges.”
Oh definitely! Have you seen the car seat turned into adapted swing idea? Or maybe you’ve rigged your own special toileting seating system that keeps your kid from falling off the potty (mine is made of PVC pipe, a luggage strap and tone tube)? Check out this wheelchair swing one dad made for his daughter. Yes. Special needs parents rock at innovation!
“Demonstrates job knowledge and skills relative to complex concepts and procedures.”
One thing that always amazes me is how much a parent knows about their child’s condition. Take the rarest of the rare genetic condition and talk to a mom whose child is diagnosed with that disorder and you will talk to a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge. She’ll tell you about causative genes, autosomal recessive disorders and explain what a cerebellar vermis is. Then she’ll talk your ear off discussing treatments, research and why you should be interested in blood banks. It’s easy to think she’s a medical doctor, but she’s not. She’s a mom.
“Uses reason even when dealing with emotional topics.”
OK, maybe we won’t get as high marks here as on the rest of our performance review. Some of us are good at keeping calm under pressure and some of us might have a complete dramatic meltdown. But even if you’re in the meltdown category, I bet you’re still able to pull things together and weigh your options logically. G-tube or no G-tube? Is another MRI really worth the risk of sedation? How many retinal reattachment surgeries are too many? These are the sort of questions you deal with on a regular basis and even if you do get emotional about it, you still find a way to reason out the right course of action for your family.
On a scale from 1 to 4 where 1 “needs work” and 4 is “outstanding”… you’re a 4! Congratulations, you’ve been recommended for continued employment as a special needs parent.
And if anyone wants to hire you for job, you’ve got some great references!