Since my son was born (premature and with special needs) , I have kind of been on a fighting spree. I fight with the world constantly to give him a normal life and also to protect him from harm, because I strongly feel it’s my responsibility and believe that God chose me to be a mother to a child with special needs because She believed he would be safe in my hands.
Many don’t really understand me for being like this, but honestly now I’ve stopped explaining myself because I’ve realized that no matter how much I explain, people who haven’t literally been through our situation will never really get it. Now if I reach a dead-end on anything related to my son, I talk to his first teacher (pre-k), his neonatologist from when he was born and a few trusted mothers who are mothers to children with special needs and some other friends who I trust will give me an unbiased opinion.
For a week I just couldn’t help feeling like a failure because I lost a battle I started 7 years ago when my son was about to start preschool, last week during his IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting.
Now for those who aren’t familiar with IEP meetings; it’s nothing less than a warzone. It’s a meeting that decides what services your child with special needs will receive during the academic year. These services vary based on your child’s needs. Our son receives Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy in school. Besides he gets special ed for Math and Writing, which means he’s taught separately because he’s not at the level of his peers.
For eg. His class might be doing multiplication and division, while he would be learning addition and subtraction.
I have never pushed him academically. In fact I push him to practice music before his homework!
In all these IEP meetings I prepare notes beforehand and present an evaluation from my side as well. The one thing I’ve always fought for is that even if he’s not academically along with his peers, I want him to be in the same classroom to form age appropriate social connections. This is called Inclusion.
But in the last meeting I was told my son is struggling in the class to keep up with his peers. He doesn’t raise his hands and asks a question in the fear of sounding dumb.
So the school district (we have a great one! I chose this one especially for its Inclusion policies), recommended that starting Middle School, our son should be placed in a special class that would include fewer students and those that match his academic level.
I’m ashamed to admit I first reacted like a regular parent, because I was losing something I have fought for so hard! And I did not want my child to be labeled.
But then after speaking to my trusted circle (that I’ve mentioned above) I was able to clear my head and look at this through his perspective. Although I don’t push him academically at all, forcing him to be one among the regular kids is actually an undue pressure on him. How much it would have hurt his self esteem when he doesn’t come up with the right answers and when he fails state mandated exams! How we lose focus when we are so immersed in life, right? I’m fighting with the world here everyday to give him a “normal” life, while as a parent I should be accepting his normalcy, guide him to thrive in a slow paced world and not push him to walk and be flustered in the regular fast paced world! For some time I forgot that I’m not a regular parent. I have a child with special needs and so, I need to be special to raise him right.
He’s not born to be one among the masses and if as his mother I don’t nurture it, then who will?
I’ll end with this statement I read online, “The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds”
I’m sure the world will get a lot of successful kids. But my son is the wanderer, the soul searcher, the storyteller.
I believe it’s never too late to rectify one’s mistakes. I’m only human and sometimes slip into the trap of expectations from the world and regular parenting. But I always get back up and set myself and my family back on track! I need to understand he needs a special class because he’s an extremely special child!
Here’s to a great middle school, pre teen drama et all! Cheers!!