Talking Points for Maura Weis
A Mother's Journey with Her special Needs Child
"When we raise a child with special needs, the expanses and vistas are different, true enough, but as I discovered, the views are no less grand." —Maura Weis
In Miles from the Sideline, Maura Weis, wife of Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis, shares her family's experiences to prepare, preserve and encourage parents facing the challenges of raising a child with disabilities, including:
- Trusting one's instincts as a parent, including questioning diagnoses and treatments and seeking out alternative therapies. Maura had success treating Hannah's chronic diarrhea with a wheat- and gluten- free diet that she learned about from another mother of a special needs child. Hannah also responded well to the healing therapy of reiki.
- Learning to differentiate between what might be good for your child and what is best for her. "I moved beyond the idea that I'm denying my daughter many of the good things in life by refusing to take her to places other children might go only to make her the object of public scrutiny. I will not put Hannah in a closet, but I don't immerse her in situations simply because they are different or might be good for her."
- Handling insensitive stares and unkind comments. "It's difficult to know which is worse: people continually peering at your child or not regarding her at all. Almost every time Hannah has a meltdown in public, at least one person will stare at me like I'm an ax murderer. Rarely does anyone offer help. I'm slower to respond with words. Instead I deliver my own look, which I hope conveys to people to watch their step. If that doesn't work, I do say a few words. It's my obligation to set people straight. I have faith in humankind. I trust that many people do not recognize the hurt they cause."
- Dealing with doctors whose attitude is "your daughter is not right, she never will be right, so what's the point?" Maura points out that there are many caring doctors, but she has often gotten the impression that some of Hannah's doctors gave her less than their all. "The fact that Hannah could not verbalize her symptoms didn't help matters. Many doctors seemed to lack the patience for pursuing the cause of her problems."
- Creating a home life that will help a special needs child flourish, preserve her dignity, provide comfort and foster independence.