I never understood why my mom was happy to see the yellow school bus traveling down our old country road after the summer break was over. I am sure that with a family of five kids, she was glad to get our life back to normal with some structure.
But my mom didn’t have to worry about IEP meetings and whether her children would be given an education. She had the expectation that her children would learn and hopefully go on to some sort of higher education or job they enjoyed.
Despite having children with disabilities, we still must have the same high expectations for our kids. Expect that they will get a good education that will lead to employment, post-secondary education, or whatever makes them happy.
I want to pass on some lines from the book The Memory Keeper’s Daughter that may be relevant to us all:
What would happen, they conjectured, if they simply went on assuming their children would do everything? Perhaps not quickly. Perhaps not by the book. But what if they simply erased those growth and development charts, with their precise, constricting points and curves? What if they kept their expectations but erased the time line? What harm could it do? Why not try? Yes why not? (Edwards p. 97)
I want everyone to do the same thing: keep the expectations high.
Erase those timelines and growth charts and have expectations for your children in their own time. Do not write them off because they have been diagnosed with a disability. Look at their gifts and what they can do.
If I had allowed the evaluations and the medical reports to influence my expectations, my son would not have made the progress he made in school or at home. Instead, I used those reports as a “starting point” and made the decision that we would try new things regardless.
Sometimes we have to try something new outside of the ARD process. What will you attempt with your child this year? Just ask yourself, “What would I do for my child if he didn’t have a disability?”
Possibly, you will seek to build a better relationship with the school (“Hey, last year we didn’t get off to the right start. Can we start anew this year?”).
Perhaps you will make an effort to learn more about the IEP process on the Texas Project First website so you can feel more involved in your next ARD meeting.
Whatever it is, try something new this school year... “Yes why not? What harm could it do?”
You can learn more from the Special Education pages on this website as well.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.