Magic Words

I can’t remember when it first dawned on me – the way one phrase could change everything for my son.

Remember “magic words” as a kid? “Abba Kadabra?” “Please?” “Thank you?”  Those pass-words would literally turn a wall of impossibility into an open door.

As a kid it might have been a fun game, but now what about when it’s the door to that doc in the ER?

And as a side – I can’t think of this topic without thinking of our fateful day when I became a “special needs” mom – when we did NOT get access to the doc, where we waited hours as our son was knocking on death’s door.

He made it, and I’m grateful for that, but I  do know that open doors could have made a HUGE difference.   Experts have since told us that the time in that waiting room was crucial.  I’ll never forget the Dad with the son with a cut finger that was rushed back – as my son’s breathing slowed, as his temperature dropped and his eyes rolled.

Another story for another day, but you get the picture.  As a parent you sometimes find yourself at that pass, with a monster at your back and a stone wall directly ahead.  Sometimes you just don’t know the word that will open up a way, and as a 24-year-old mom with a whole 9 days of parenting under my belt, I had no idea how to get anyone to take me seriously, at the doctors office visits, at the hospital, on the emergency nurse phone line, in the emergency room.  (I don’t blame myself for this though. I did try at every turn, and ultimately God is sovereign.)

In the past 10 years, I’ve seen magic words open a lot of doors.   I’ve seen simple words transform a stubborn nurse into a total sweetheart.  The guard-dog receptionist can melt like butter.  The school system that won’t budge can move budgetary mountains.  The insurance company pinching pennies can cover that power chair.   And the office manager can be a true friend.

There is a key for anything worth having, anything that comes at a higher cost requires a passkey.  Money, time, effort and often – simple words open new paths.

Economics and words.

The special needs world has it’s own weird economy.  Where the demand exceeds the supply, magic words can make a world of difference.

It’s not always a conspiracy.  People in positions to grant access can feel beat down. They have their own struggles in life, sometimes have to be around a LOT of emotions and often just need to hear something kind, motivational or both. It takes extra energy to move in new directions or put forth the effort, think outside of the box…and special needs are all so unique!  (We might as well throw out the box, right?!)

Once in an IEP meeting we’d spent hours, days, weeks trying to get to a solution that would allow for our son to safely attend school.  We’d even had to pull him out of school for a few weeks.

“Least restrictive environment”  changed that.

A few weeks into it, it began to look like a supervisor was forcing a medical professional to make determining decisions based on his own non-medical opinion and by doing so, not supplying “the least restrictive environment” required for our son to get an education. Those magic words got our boy back in school.

Other magic words I’ve encountered:

For the parents of children with behavioral or physical needs in the US, for those being drowned by medical bills, and needing extra behavioral, nursing or helpers:

Home and Community Based Waiver Program

(Basically this is supplemental health insurance that covers the extra stuff that you just can’t juggle and that normal insurance can’t handle.  Many states have several of these programs to meet multiple needs and it’s best to look into this early as they often have wait lists.)

For the poor mom’s out there getting grief over testing their babies’ bilirubin?

“I would like it documented in my child’s chart that you have refused to test my child.”

From the Mom of the teen in high school with needs going unmet as the school asks that their young adult with memory issues and fatigue be their own advocate:

“Long-standing history.”

And as my granddad always used to say, “Kill them with kindness.”

Truly, there is a time for everything. Some situations (like a life/death ER visit) might require a squeaky wheel very much communicating the urgency of the situation, or firmness and confidence.  Others require gentelness and compassion, eye contact, a smile.  Most require some level of transparency – who is motivated to go above and beyond for the person who acts like they don’t need anyone?  Everyone sure could use some more kindness in their life, some words that build up.

I don’t know the magic words, really. I don’t know what my kids need to hear tomorrow or how to forge through our latest pressing challenges…but I do know who to ask.  The author of all things might surely delight to whisper the right words into his child’s ear, right?

What magic words have you found to open stubborn doors?

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