This is going to be a bit of a rant. By now you know that I have a son with special needs, both physical and intellectual. And believe it or not… I know what he can’t do!
My son is in high school now. But since he started kindergarten, everyday I have been met at the day’s end with a list of what he hasn’t been able to do that particular day. This isn’t a reflection on the educators. They are extremely caring people that I know want only the best for my boy. They have expectations from parents, school districts and state law that can be mind boggling. I trust them with his life. I am thankful for their dedication to my son & a difficult field in which to teach. It’s a reflection on the education system as a whole of our children with special needs.
Children with special needs are constantly trying to measure up to a standard that has been set, usually it seems just out of reach. There is data upon data that must be kept of what they haven’t achieved. And if by chance they do achieve one of the IEP outlined goals, another distant goal is quickly put in place.
Our typically developing children are praised with every step. We give them awards throughout their schooling – Best Athlete, Best Actor, Best Singer, Best Instrumentalist, Best Scholar, Best Scholar Athlete, Best: Insert the organization here. We tell them to showcase their positive attributes on applications for college. We praise them with not only awards but award banquets to present these numerous awards.
We praise them with McDonald’s hamburgers for A’s on their report card. Only one principal we have had has seen the value in this & unexpectedly put my son on the A Honor role. He knew the value in praising our children for the effort they put into their education. Not all children will receive A’s, but they may have given it their all just to get that C. This principal also knew the kids in the “Transition Room” weren’t graded on an A-F scale. They were never given the opportunity to even aim for an A on that report card. That little bit of recognition for my son was such a boost to my and my son’s mood. I remember how exciting it was to do the simple act of going into McDonald’s, letting my son show his report card with an A, then be handed a free hamburger. (Just how gross McDonald’s hamburgers really are may appear in a future blog rant).
Don’t get me wrong – I am all for praising & awarding our typical children. I have those kids too. It is beyond fulfilling to have your child walk up on a stage to receive an award for the hard earned accomplishment. All while video recording & posting on social media, of course. I’ve done it. I’ve done it with pride. And I loved every minute of it!
My rant is this – Why aren’t our kids with special needs awarded for the same achievements? Once our school nurse nominated my son for a school wide year-end achievement. How cool is that?! She recognized his daily determination to get life done. I loved it! But did you read what I wrote? Once. Now I’m not asking for an award every time my kid walks down the hall. But why the daily listing of what he isn’t doing? Let’s just assume I know what he hasn’t done from here on out.
But here is a list of what my son CAN do:
– Every night he prays to our God in Heaven about what has gone on that day. Which usually includes his classmates.
– Every day he reminds me to put on his knee brace. Because I am the one that forgets it.
– Every day he reminds me to give him his medicine. Because I am the one that forgets it.
– Every day he wants to call a friend or family on FaceTime. Because he LOVES them and wants to see them, talk to them, have fun with them.
– Every day he wants to thank someone for a long past gift he received from them.
– Everyday (If I let him) he would swing in the park, just for the joy of being free.
– Everyday (If I let him) he would visit people just to talk, laugh & be with them.
– Every day he wants to eat in all three school lunch periods so he can see his typically developing friends. Those same kids that he is kept away from all day long. He just wants to be a part of their normal lives.
You may have guessed, the last one is something for which he is reprimanded. But he just wants to be with those typical kids and experience a high five, a “Hey, Bud!”, to be a part of the excitement that occurs in school lunchrooms. For just three lunch periods to escape the ‘data’, the ‘nose-to-the-grindstone’ that happens outside of lunch.
My son was made with the purpose of bringing glory to the God who made him. He does that everyday in my house. EVERY DAY I am reminded of what he CAN do in Christ Jesus. Normally I would post a link to a bible verse. Today I’m writing it out as a reminder to me & anyone who happens upon my rant that my boy was made with a purpose. A purpose that he is constantly fulfilling. Whether or not the classroom data supports it … I know what he can do.
Bible verse I’m loving today: