Dynamic Learning Networks in Life

Laura Francis
Written by
Laura Francis

How a Mentoring Network Can Make a Difference

I have a three-year-old son with special needs. Born two and a half months premature, he has been surrounded by doctors, specialists and therapists since day one. These professionals make up a very important part of his life. What I hadn’t realized until now, though, is that those same people make up a very personal and very important dynamic learning network for me.

Mentoring NetworkFor some reason, I always think about learning networks as something that form within the confines of work. And while that holds true and is most definitely what we advocate here at Triple Creek, I suddenly realized the other night (during one of my middle of the night, wake-up-with-an-epiphany moments) that I have a very robust and vital learning network outside of work, too.

There is a steep learning curve when it comes to any medical condition. The words are big and foreign; the emotions are deep and raw; and the impacts can be devastating and life-changing. Apnea and bradycardia. Periventricular leukomalacia. Hypsarrhythmia. And more and more and more. I often feel like I need a medical degree just to raise my child.

I am the type of person who needs to know everything in order to process what is happening (whether with work or life). I pepper my son’s therapists and specialists with questions as I try to get a better understanding of his conditions, ultimately looking for a full picture on how this will affect him. For me, the more I know and understand, the better I am able to process things and see how that correlates into real life. I need that baseline understanding and then the practical applications. Thankfully, my son has amazing people treating him, who are also amazingly patient with me. They are my knowledge sources, my insightful experts, my advisors.

Ideas from a groupThe beauty of a dynamic learning network is that it is ever-shifting as a person’s learning needs change. I have had doctors and therapists come and go already in my mentoring network in these three short years (some I will miss dearly and some I could not get away from quickly enough). More fluctuations will occur as my son grows and as his medical needs change. The thing I find enlightening, though, is that there are a few people who make up the base of my network who I will always turn to, such as his fabulous pediatrician. I even continue to lean on a talented physical therapist who no longer treats my son on a regular basis now that he is out of early intervention and into toddler development. But I still contact her with questions because she is such an amazing source of information and can put a practical spin on things. Her insights help me translate what they do in therapy into real-life applications on what we can do at home.

These core advisors are my first-tier, my starting lineup. I find comfort in knowing that this support system will be there for me, even as my informal mentoring network grows and morphs over time. I hope to add to my base and find even more people who can be longtime sources of support and information. And as I learn, I’m excited to share and give back with others who may need it. I guess that’s the funny thing about life and about humans in general. If we try, we can make something positive out of very difficult circumstances.

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