#064 The F-I-G Method for managing difficult interactions with Dr. Lilach Saperstein

#064 The F-I-G Method for managing difficult interactions with Dr. Lilach Saperstein

You can listen to this podcast episode on iTunes or Spotify.

Dr. Lilach Saperstein’s F-I-G Method is a handy and actionable advocacy tool to help us make strategic decisions about how we handle conversations and social interactions.

F-I-G Method

Dr. Lilach Saperstein helps families navigate life and parenting at the intersection of hearing loss, special needs, and other chronic health challenges. She worked as a cochlear implant audiologist at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, and is the host of the All About Audiology podcast which has been downloaded more than 13,000 times. Dr. Saperstein is on a mission to help parents connect with and advocate for their children. From her speaking engagements to her clinical work, she has empowered hundreds of people with information and support in their time of need. Her F-I-G Method™ put tools to advocate in the hands of families. Dr. Saperstein had been an expert guest on many podcasts like Smashing the Ceiling, Glass Half Full, Raise a Legend, and Married to Doctors. When not supporting other families, she’s busy raising her own. She and her husband have three bilingual daughters and live in Israel.

You can download the F-I-G Method Guide here.

Transcript

Genia:
Welcome to the Good Things in Life podcast, I’m your host Genia Stephen. I feel like a lot lately, I am talking about communication and talking about sometimes when communication is difficult and how well, or not well, I manage that. And I’m really glad that today our guest expert is somebody who can help us think about a clear method for managing those difficult conversations and making sure that we’re moving forward in a productive way. Dr. Lilach Saperstein helps families navigate life and parenting at the intersection of hearing loss, special needs and other chronic health challenges. She worked as a cochlear implant audiologist at Rambam medical center in Haifa Israel, and is the host of the All About Audiology podcast, which has been downloaded more than 13,000 times. Dr, Saperstein is on a mission to help parents connect with an advocate for their kids. From her speaking engagements to her clinical work, she’s empowered hundreds of people with information and support in their time of need and her F-I-G method lets tools for advocacy in the hands of families. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. Well, thank you so, so much for joining me today. I’m super excited to have you on the show.

Lilach:
Thank you so much for having me. It is my biggest passion. I love talking about it, so I’m excited.

Genia:
Awesome. I wonder if you could start by how you got into, like, what brought you to where you are today, as far as the work that you’re doing with parents around advocacy specifically?

Lilach:
Absolutely. So I started off after I finished my doctorate in audiology. You know, I have a lot of options. Audiologists work in lots of different settings. It can be hospitals or private practices, and a lot of it is focused on helping people to hear better and hearing aids, and that kind of big focus that people might think of. What’s an audiologist? Oh, that’s where they go. But I was really, really passionate and excited about educational audiology. Working in a school where the audiologist’s job is to make sure that any student who has any challenges with hearing gets the support and the services and the devices that they need. So I got my start out at st. Francis school for the deaf in Brooklyn. And this was an introduction for me too. The deaf community and students who are identifying as deaf, which is very different than the focus of audiology graduate school.

Lilach:
And I learned a lot. As I hope, you know, everybody continues to learn well past their schooling because that was a big education to learn what’s actually happening. How are families actually getting care and support? And where is that lacking? So, yeah, so what I saw was that there were tons of attention and so many resources and interdisciplinary IEP meetings for the children. And a lot of that was working well when it was working well, but there was a huge lack in the support for the parents. And parents often felt unheard, unsupported, that their story was completely being overlooked. And even to themselves, many times didn’t notice that that was happening because their whole focus was like whoring everything that they have into their child. And so, that brought me to realize and want to serve for the parents who have a child with a hearing loss. And then that grew into parents in general. Are we really caring enough for parents who then need to do so much for their children?

Genia:
Right. That’s great. And we know, you know, that when parents are connected with each other and with other really helpful resources that essentially, you know, it’s better for the kids too. Right. Like families thrive when everybody is thriving. Yeah. Yeah. So let’s jump right into the F-I-G method, but maybe first talk about why you started thinking about a need for this kind of tool.

Lilach:
Yeah. So I started my podcast, All About Audiology podcast, and in the early episodes that I was putting together, it was a lot about understanding medical terms and being able to be in conversation and a partner with your professionals. And the more that I did that, I was getting feedback from listeners saying, “Wait a minute. We have a voice?” Like I can actually understand some of these. I have a choice in what I’m, what I want for my child, what educational placement they’re going to have, even what language modality they’re going to have. So I started to see that the conversation was getting so much interest from parents say how, but how do I, now that I know some of these terms where I know more about audiology, how do I now communicate with their teacher and with their doctor so that, you know, it’s more of a level conversation rather than this power dynamic, where someone tells you what you have to do.

Lilach:
So now you have to do it, being more empowered to make those choices. So then throughout the podcast, lots more, I’ve had lots of different, interesting guests who come on and share their stories, patients and parents who share their stories. And then occupational therapists and speech therapists and parenting experts. And it’s become a much bigger conversation than just about audiology. And in recent months, I’ve been working with nonprofit where they are the ones who are saying, “Hey, parents need support.” So for example, Hands & Voices is doing incredible work all over the country. And one of their chapters was having a retreat for moms. So they invited me to come and speak at that retreat via zoom. And what they wanted to hear most about was advocacy. So I was able to share with them the F-I-G method. And we’ll talk about that because the F-I-G method is really helpful in that it gives you a framework. So when you’re in that situation where you’re really overwhelmed, where you’re really upset or angry, or just very emotional about what’s happening, you can kind of go back to those letters, F, I & G and then know what you’re going to say next, helps you find the words.

Genia:
Awesome. Because I have gotten better over the years, but I still recognize and can look back, recognize currently and can look back over previous conversations that I’ve had in high emotional states. And I sometimes I’m just, I walk away thinking, “What were you thinking?” Like, you know, I’m really upset. I’m, you know, potentially really undermining my goals, like what I’m trying to achieve in the conversation. And anyway, and I’m not building rapport, like I’m not, anyway. So I love, love, love the I love the F-I-G method. I love that it really provides an easy, easy, straightforward, even in a high emotional state, it’s easy to sort of remember, “Okay. How can I think through you know, my approach here”. So let’s dive in. So tell me about the F-I-G method. Tell us about the F-I-G method.

Lilach:
Okay. So I like to start by asking you to recall a recent episode that is just right here in your mind when you lost it. And what lost it means is different for every person. Some people that means like yelling and becoming really aggressive with their words or with their actions and for other people that means like internally melting down, like, well, shutting down, maybe running to your car and crying, or, you know, ruminating for days over what happened. So whatever that means for you, when you have that super strong, emotional reaction about something that someone said for your kid, like sometimes it’s people who ask you questions about your choices in very rude or ignorant ways.

Lilach:
Sometimes it’s a more structured, like at a doctor’s appointment, at an IEP meeting or school service meeting. So any anything that surrounds that, take a minute, bring that up to mind, and then we’re going to be working with that incident. And so you, you start with the F in familiarity, you start with the F and the F-I-G method, which stands for Familiarity. And the first thing you look at is who is this person? Who did I have this interaction with? And what is the value of the relationship? What is the dynamics of the relationship? And you start over here because you want to first get a little bit of space and bird’s-eye from the situation not to be so in it, you just kind of say, “Wait, who am I talking to?” Okay, is this a professional who has expertise in a certain topic?

Lilach:
That’s one kind of category – doctor, therapists – you know, anybody like that. Is this a family member? Your sister-in-law at family gatherings, or like even a WhatsApp groups, family, you know, all the things I have in a family where people are important to you, you have relationships with, they’re also complicated. So is it that kind of dynamic? Or are you kind of in this other group that is just stranger? Like in a parking lot and at the playground, and I dunno at Chuck E Cheese’s, like people looking at how your child is behaving or how they look or out there, whatever is going on, but you don’t know this person.

Genia:
Online comments.

Lilach:
Online comments, yes, for sure. And so when you can be able to look at what is my familiarity with this person? F, familiarity, and is this person important to me? Do I need from them something like, are they the service coordinator? Or is this a seven-year-old on the playground? And just going to that question at first helps you to see I’m going to have a very different approach. If this is my spouse, and we’re having a long, important conversation about what to do for school versus, you know, the other random mom at a mom thing, or, you know.

Lilach:
So that’s the F, and then you can go into Intent. And this is a second way to step away from what’s happening and from your whole emotional reaction. And just think for one minute about what the other person’s intent is. What are they trying to do? What is their, where are they coming from? And when you do this, you kind of step into their shoes for just a second. And the reason I say that is because I don’t want you to stay there and like, just excuse people, or, “Oh, they just don’t know, or they’re just rude.” Like, no. I’m saying let’s just go there and see what could it possibly be. And sometimes it is that they’re just being ignorant or an educated, but sometimes it’s because they really don’t like you and they’re being mean. Like that could be true. I’m not saying it from an excusing perspective.

Lilach:
I just want to see, like, can you know, is this person really trying to hurt you? Or are they telling you, you can’t get the services that you need because they seriously don’t have a budget and that’s where they’re coming from. They, don’t not like you or not want to do the right thing for you. And sometimes it’s to cover themselves. This is a big one in the medical place where people are like, they just dropped this news on us, or they just rattle off all the risk factors for a surgery without any regard for like, what, what did you just say? Those things are really scary, but for maybe for that nurse or healthcare professional, they’re just checking off that you got informed consent. And to them, it isn’t serious. Like they didn’t realize the impact that that could have. So when you look at the intent that they have, it changes it from this person is coming at me too.

Lilach:
I’m not really, like, I think this is what their intent is, but I can’t ever really be sure. And now you’ve added another layer of protection from becoming super defensive about what happened. So that’s the I, intent. And lastly, what you mentioned right away, you hit the nail on the head, which is Goal. What do you want, what are your goals out of this situation? And when you hold your goal really close and you know what you want, then you can know exactly what to say, because if you want to get the services that you need, then you’re going to be very focused on saying so, okay, we don’t have the budget. So how else do we do it? What are the other things? And you are still in this rational thinking perspective where you’re goal oriented conversation rather than, you know, being insulted and coming back to emotional interaction.

Lilach:
And sometimes your goal is to leave. Like if you’re at a party with 15 toddlers and other parents are not being respectful, like you could leave the party, that’s a thing. And that could be your goal in that moment when you’re clear, okay. They don’t understand what my child’s needs are in this situation. And my goal is to keep my child safe and protective. So we’re out. And then that’s how, you know, what you’re going to do what you wanted to say. And a big one that comes up a lot with parents, with families that I work with is the family interactions with their mom, mother-in-law you know, people who are close to you who maybe don’t get it. And they’re the people who you really want and hope for. And if you’re blessed to have supportive family, that’s huge, but that doesn’t happen automatically for a lot of families and that needs to be worked on. So if you keep your goal in mind that you want this person to learn and connect with your child and be part of the whole family story that you have, then your goal is going to be to help them learn what you’ve learned and help them see what you need.

Lilach:
So when we look at the F-I-G method, F, I & G – Familiarity, Intent and Goal – we can look back at those interactions and just sit down with a paper. I have a workbook you can download, but you know, any paper will do, you just can write down. Okay, who is this person? What do I have with them? And what do I think they were trying to do? And what do I want? And it’s very hard to know what you want at first, because you have to know what your options are. You know, it’s, I think that’s a general thing that many parents have to learn and have to go through a process of realizing that they’re, that they have choices in everything. Like, even down to the smallest thing, like, are we going to use a pacifier? That’s a big one for.

Lilach:
Then, I remember like being a new mom with a baby in my arms is like hours old. And then someone telling me, “Oh, are you can use a pacifier?” Or like, are you going to be, they’re going to have teeth problems and be wearing it until their second grade. And I was like, “What?” I never even thought about this issue. I didn’t mean like, you know, and that’s just a tiny little thing within parenting when you’re talking about all of the things that come with special needs and any other kind of that diagnoses, there’s a lot of education that has to happen. So

Genia:
I think that I would love to break, like go back and kind of talk about each of those steps. So the familiarity piece, I think is a really, I think each of them are important. I’m probably going to keep saying, “I think this is really important”, which is not super helpful. Cause I think the whole thing is helpful, but, or important. But one, one piece that I think is really difficult if you find yourself living a life where people making offensive comments in some or hurtful comments or insensitive comments of in any regard is going to be part of your experience, you know, more so than perhaps other people’s experiences. Then one of the things that is a risk is that you spend, you experience that is so painful and so vulnerable that you do one of a couple things. You know, you start to avoid people in situations and experiences and community life, because you don’t want to be around people who don’t get it and are going to say those things. Or you become your life is just full of hurtful experiences because you’re so you, you, everyone just cuts to the core.

Genia:
Unless you develop some, some management strategies in creating like some boundaries or you know, this is such a terrible expression. Cause I don’t actually want people to develop a thick skin, but unless you develop a bit of a thick skin, but I, I really love this as a question around, does this person, or does this situation, or does this relationship matter? And does the possible outcome of this relationship matter? You know, like maybe you’re like, well, I don’t have a, I don’t have an important relationship with this politician, for example, that I’m talking to, but perhaps they’re going to be making policy decisions, which actually will have a really profound outcome on not just my family, but many families. And so you decide that it’s worth investing in kind of thing. But when it’s not. It’s so fair and reasonable for people to say, “I’m going to put a box around that and walk away because this is not a mountain I’m willing to die on.” And I’m just going to let it roll off my back. Not because it’s okay, but because you cannot tackle every mountain. You just can’t, it’s not possible. So I love that in the F-I-G method, you’ve put it into just a really practical kind of rational and objective way of saying, does this matter or not, does this person in this relationship better or not? And if it doesn’t, you have permission to just got to go. Just disengage. Yeah. Which also doesn’t have to be a forever decision.

Lilach:
Exactly. That’s why it’s really case by case thing. That’s why I say pick one incident and then hold that through your mind in the whole process and then pick a different decision and then pick it, you know, you do it in all different situations so that it’s kind of a way to analyze what’s happened. And then once you get really good at that, you start to almost automatically get into the F-I-G. Boom! In the moment. And that’s where the magic is. I recently was talking to someone who I’ve worked with on this. And she told me that she had a very unexpected decision that she didn’t realize you would, you know, she wouldn’t have gotten to this without doing the method. She had a situation where her daughter’s teacher was basically told the daughter or something that the mother had told the teacher, right?

Lilach:
The mom and teacher had a meeting and they were talking. And then the teacher said, you know, your mom said such and such about you. And the mother felt like that was a complete breach of trust. Something that she was talking to the teacher and then she told the student. And then when she thought, “Oh, what’s my goal. What am I going to do next?” Instead of like saying, “Am I going to go to the principal about it? Am I going to get the, you know, make a whole hell of a little about it?” She said, I don’t want to do that. I’m just going to understand now that in this relationship I don’t share with the teacher stuffs that I don’t want my daughter, you know, like this person has proven themselves untrustworthy, and now that’s informing my future relationship with them.

Genia:
If you’re feeling stuck and confused about how to help your child with a disability, to access some recreation opportunities, to think about connection and relationship during COVID-19 restrictions, then join the free webinar that is being put on by Lisa Drennan hosted by Good Things in Life called Inclusion Is Not Cancelled. She’s going to be talking about strategies for connection and recreation during this period of time. You can register by going to the goodthingsinlife.org/june17.

Genia:
And what’s interesting is that sometimes when you learn about people and learn about their nature and their personality and what you can expect from them, you, it can sometimes inform the eye the intent, but sometimes it also means that the intent doesn’t matter. Because you are familiar enough with them to know this is not, you know, if I do this, they’re, whether they mean well or not, it’s not a good avenue towards reaching my goal. And on the flip side of that, I think it also, when you, when you know where somebody, when you know somebody well enough, you’ve kind of established that familiarity in that relationship dynamic, you probably have some insight into intent. And that can be really, really helpful. I know, just in the work that I do around disability, even just having conversations internationally can be potentially volatile because of different language use or multi-generational conversations can be volatile because there’s certain words that you shouldn’t use and different terminology around the world.

Genia:
And so conversations can get quite confusing. But once you understand the intent, then you have a lot of information that you can use about how to move forward as you said. And one of the things that I talk to parents abouta lot is the, is just exactly what you were saying. You know, once, you know, intent, you can decide, “Am I going to try and bring them along?” But we have a bit of a like some language policing kinds of issues and some, and just the reactivity around people’s comments or questions, or like sometimes things are totally inappropriate. And I fall into that category too. Like, I certainly have not always managed that particularly well. But once you understand intent and you’re clear on your goal, then you actually have the responsibility to just make some good decisions.

Genia:
Okay. So we just had a little family interruption there, so I’m just gonna, the listeners won’t have heard that, but we were just we got a little interrupted there. It’s a reality of working from home when spouses and kids are all around. So I’m just going to repeat where my thought process was so I can hopefully complete that fun in my own mind. So once you know somebody’s intent, and once you’re clear about your goal, then it actually creates sort of more, like the onus is then on you, because now you’re taking responsibility for moving the direction of the relationship or the interaction or whatever the situation is. And I think that instead of just being reactionary, and I think that because we are entitled to have our feelings and we are entitled to be, I think it’s reasonable to be offended, to be hurt, to be angry to feel threatened.

Genia:
All of those, all of those things are completely legitimate. And I experienced them myself and I don’t feel like I feel completely in my rights to feel that way, but we can’t expect to reach our goals if we’re not being strategic. And we can’t expect that all these humans who we’re interacting with who also have feelings, whether they’re legitimate or fair or not, you know, like whether we want to acknowledge their, where they’re coming from or not, it’s not reasonable to expect that we can just react however our emotions tell us to and still get the outcomes that we want. Strategy matters in achieving our goals in advocacy. Yeah. So I also really like that the F-I-G method helps me stay really clear about like, “Listen, if you’ve got a goal, then you need to be strategic about it.” Which in my mind also kind of loops back to giving myself permission with the familiarity in the feelings piece to just be like, actually, this is not relevant to my goals. And I don’t, I don’t have to own this. I’m walking away from this situation.

Lilach:
That’s right. And, like the F-I-G method has three parts. And it’s not just like one of these things that people say, like, you know, “Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.” No, don’t give it. Like, I don’t believe in that. There’s situations where people really aren’t nice. Or, you know, there’s times where you are encountering people who even if they had all the education in the world, they’re not nice. And then other like, you know, sayings and efforts and stuff, people say like respond, don’t react. It’s like, well, what do you mean I’m angry right now? So I’m feeling anger, like exactly what you’re saying to validate all those feelings and nevertheless to be able to advocate together with the feelings, but not to let them decide what’s going to happen. And knowing what to say and finding the words comes naturally from doing the F-I-G method.

Lilach:
So, you know who you’re talking to so, you know, what’s going to work with them. If, you know, if it’s someone close to you, you know their, you know, what works with that relationship. And if it’s a professional, you might go into more technical words or you might even use legal kind of words, you know, which is a totally different conversation. And then it all has to fit together, the familiarity, the intent, and the goal all work together to help you move forward. And it’s, I find that very empowering because then you have like more, I don’t want to say control because not every, you know, you’re not really in control of the situation, but you have more of a grasp on what’s happening rather than being lost in a swirl of everything happening around you and to you you’re actually present in it.

Genia:
Yeah. It’s an anchor, I think is kind of what you’re referring to. It kind of anchors you down. I’m reminded of a conversation or I feel like there’s a real connection between this conversation and a conversation I had withDr. Rhoberta Shaler in episode 58 of my podcast around dealing with difficult people. And she, Dr. Shaler gave some really good recommendations as well around, like, what are the ways, once you get to that strategy piece, like you’ve decided your goal and you know, you’re fairly clear about their intent and your investment in the situation. And then the person, you know, she talked about things like, you know, stating your weather report of like, what is the internal, what is your internal weather at the moment as a way of saying, okay, like my feelings might be totally out of control right now, but having some power actually in being clear about where you’re headed and just saying, listen, I’m feeling really triggered right now because of XYZ.

Genia:
As a, as a way of engaging with other people when you, when you’re choosing to engage. And I guess the reason I’m thinking about the connection between these two conversations is just that piece about how difficult it is to think well on your toes and to not always be personally injured, you know, emotionally injured in these really highly emotional conversations in situations, you know? And it does get easier as an advocate when you have some tools, some conversation and interaction tools ,like the F-I-G method, to help you to fall back on when your weather report, internal weather report is like, it’s a lightning and thunder storm in my mind right now.

Lilach:
Yes. That’s huge. And I think the huge value, a big part of the value of stating your weather report is actually for yourself to be aware of it because you’re bringing awareness to it. And then being able to talk about that. And, and also when you’re sharing vulnerably like that, that also changes the whole conversation. It does, you know, if let’s say, somebody says why is your child yelling at a time when it’s inappropriate and they’re coming at you? And you say, you actually are able to say to them, well, here’s, what’s happening when you just said that to me, here’s what I’m dealing with a little bit, not like that you’re coming with your whole history at them, but this is someone that you have a familiarity with. And, you know, you can say it also is very difficult for me to be able not to be able to impacts the way my child is behaving at this moment. And I’m actually feeling quite embarrassed about this myself. And then they’re like, “Oh, whoops.” They can just right away take back just by hearing what you we’re going through about that.

Genia:
Yeah. Yep. So do you have any recommendations around sort of, I don’t know whether this even makes sense, but preparing to use the F-I-G method.

Lilach:
Yes.

Genia:
How, how do you, how do you kind of take this idea and then really make it something that is working for you?

Lilach:
Okay. Absolutely. So when you’ve done the F-I-G method on a couple of incidences and you feel more confident with applying it F, I & G.

Genia:
Do you mean like past incidences, like

Lilach:
Yes. You know, really doing some journaling around it and sit with it and write about it, talk about it. And you feel more confident and comfortable with the method. Then I think you could start to look forward to upcoming situations. And a big one is, let’s say an upcoming doctor’s appointment, which is very stressful any day. But I think even now more so there’s very limited time. There’s like a lot of stress around, like who can come and when, and who’s in the room and like, there’s just medical situations are stressful already. And now they’re going to be even more with all these new recommendations and things. But anyway right away you can think about, okay, have I seen this doctor before or not? What do I know about them? What have I heard about them? So you get kind of a familiarity piece about what kind, what kind of doctor is this too? Like, what are the possible things that they’re going to test or they’re going to recommend, and right away you can, you can start to understand, get an understanding of who is this person, what do they mean to me?

Lilach:
Like, am I trying to advocate to get certain testing or certain what’s the word?

Genia:
Treatment?

Lilach:
Yes. Thank you. I think what they’re going to do certain testing certain treatment. So if I know that that’s what this doctor does I’m going to come in understanding. Okay. So, because that’s actually, you know, a lot of times when you’re in this whole swirl of a new medical diagnosis, you might not know the exact difference between one specialist and another specialist, what their expertise is. And then you come in with all these questions and they say, no, actually that’s for the rheumatologists. That’s for the ENT. And I’m, you know in my world, so we have ENT is Ear, Nose and Throat doctors, but there are specific otologist that are just ears. So they’re, ENT’s that specialize in ears, and then even among them, there’s specialist called the implant surgeons.

Lilach:
And that’s not just any otologist. So like even learning that kind of vocabulary of who is this doctor. Okay. So you covered the familiarity of who it is. And then you want to see the intent who set up this appointment, who sent you there? What was the referral? What do you think that this doctor is going to want from you? And what, what are they expecting? What are they going to see you for? And that can help you prepare what, what reports to bring and what records to bring. And then finally to think about what’s your goal, are you trying to get a certain prescription for a certain thing that only this kind of specialist can give you? And you know that, so you’re coming in with a goal and you’re going to have all your paperwork and you’re going to be in the right doctor’s office.

Lilach:
So even that kind of advocacy, which we might not even think about that in terms of advocacy, but it really is to be the manager. And that’s a role that I think a lot of parents are not aware of when there’s a diagnosis for their child, that they have now been bestowed on the wall, the other parental duties of life. But they’re also the case manager of their child’s medical history, medical reports, medical records, and therapeutic group reports and progress. And all the things, you know, some parents are binder people, and I would get really organized or they have everything on their phone, but not everybody knows to do that or understand that in the beginning. And that can be a really stressful transition. So that’s one very practical advice. Like, you know, people have checklists of what to ask your doctor, but it’s less about the checklist and more about you knowing who this doctor is, what are they going to want for me? And what do I want for my child out of this interaction?

Lilach:
That’s, that’s great and really helpful. And, and also highlights the preventative potential of thinking about the F-I-G method. So it’s not just in highly stressful situations because there’s already an unhelpful communication exchange, but also in preventing those from coming up because you’re, you’ve got a plan. Exactly. So then to take it to a more personal kind of thing, if know that every holiday season there’s a holiday party in your neighborhood or in your extended family or whatever it is, you’re thinking about it, that one party that you hate, hopefully we’ll be able to have parties against you. But when we have parties, you can start to think who’s going to be there. What’s the environment going to be like, what are they going to expect of us? You know, it’s a super formal, is there going to be super loud music that my child might have sensory issues with?

Lilach:
Like everyone takes it to their story and what their child’s needs are? It can be also what kind of food is there going to be, like people with allergies and dietary restrictions do this a lot. Thinking about what your goals are. Is your goal to still enjoy the party and still maintain those relationships, or is your goal at this point in time for this party? Just skip it because you’re, you’d rather not deal with all those people in situations and challenges. And that’s okay at times, you know, like, yeah, I don’t want to go to the avoiding, like you said, to avoid everything, but to be able to make that decision.

Genia:
Yeah. And it’s a legitimate decision, I think, throughout your lifespan saying no, like I am all for no being a full sentence for all kinds of, you know, in all kinds of aspects of her life. But it also like another goal of in that situation that you brought up might actually be, even if we have a miserable time, my goal is to help people understand a little bit more about what we need in order to have some future party be successful. And so if that’s your goal, then you’re still given a lot of information or a basis to come up with a lot of information or strategy or ideas around. Okay. So if I want my family to be better supported at this party, what do I need to do to engage that additional support or accommodation? Instead of just showing up at the party and enduring the whole thing, or ending up in a family conflict, because, you know, somebody says something or does something. Yup.

Lilach:
And I think, you know, so yeah, I was just thinking of super small example of a party that we had gone to where my daughter didn’t want to wear a dress. And it was definitely a dress kind of situation. And the fact is she wanted to wear her pajamas and I was gonna go to the party because for me that was important. We would have that experience and it was her choice of what she was going to wear that came into it other goals that I have in parenting her and our relationship that were more important than what it’s going to look like in the pictures and the family not liking it. Well, too bad. But I was able to then have the confidence and the resilience to take those looks and stares and comments and be like, I accept them because they’re not about me. And I don’t, they don’t matter to me right now more than my child does.

Genia:
In being at that event.

Lilach:
Yeah.

Genia:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear you. So what, if you, kind of in all the work that you’ve done, not just the F-I-G method, but in all the work that you’ve done throughout your career and all the experiences that you’ve had, if you had kind of one really core message that you would like to impart to parents, what would that be?

Lilach:
To know how important you are as a parent and to take care of your journey and your story. So much of what happens to a lot of families is that the child becomes the absolute focus for everything also financially also time-wise and also emotionally. And I think it’s really important and wonderful that the child should get all of that, but not at the expense of what the parents go through. And there are phases, okay, where certain times in life that you are going to need to be invested more and also depending on a hundred of the factors, resources, and all of the things, but for whatever it means to you at this point to also acknowledge yourself and also be really open to getting support for you. Like people will go to the ends of the earth and pay whatever money, enjoying whatever groups, you know, travel the world to get their child what they need and to take some of that energy and also shine some of that compassion and love and care for yourself and also for your spouse and other people who are caring for this child too. They care for each other. That’s, that’s it. That’s the mission.

Genia:
Yeah. That’s great. And if people wanted to follow up more with you and your work, how would people find you?

Lilach:
Sure. So you can come and listen to the All About Audiology podcast, which is not only about hearing loss issues, lots of things about connecting with your child and advocacy, like we spoke about today. And you can also download the free worksheet about the F-I-G method at allaboutaudiology.com/fig F-I-G.

Genia:
That’s awesome. Well, thank you so, so much for speaking with me today, I really enjoyed our conversation. And I, I know for sure that the listeners, the parents are going to find this tool really, really valuable. So I’m really grateful for your time and for the work that you’re doing and for sharing that with us.

Lilach:
Thank you so much for having me. And I wish everyone a lot of success in finding the words they’re looking for, being able to advocate.

Genia:
Thanks.

Genia:
Dr. Lilach And I have been talking about using the F-I-G method to help us with difficult conversations and achieving our goals. One of the places that I know lots of parents struggle is in accessing really positive, inclusive recreational opportunities for their kids in typical organizations like the YMCA. On June 17th, Lisa Drennan is offering a free webinar, hosted by Good Things in Life called Inclusion Is Not Cancelled. She’s going to be talking about strategies for recreation and connection during COVID restrictions, but her specialty, her expertise is on community recreation inclusion. So it’s a really good fit. So if you’re interested in thinking about inclusive recreation, consider attending this webinar with Lisa Drennan on June 17th. You can register by going to goodthingsinlife.org/june17. See you there.

 

Thanks for Listening!

Resources &Links Mentioned:

To get an email about new podcasts so that you never miss an episode sign up here.

To share your thoughts:

  • Leave a note in the comment section below.
  • Ask me a question by email.
  • Share this show on Facebook.
  • Talk about this show in your Instagram Stories.

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.

Special thanks to Dr. Lilach Saperstein for joining me this week. Until next time!

Scroll to Top