My Valentine to Those Who Get It

I’m so grateful for staff who get it.

Let’s face it. People don’t go into special education for the money. Whether a teacher, a TA, even a special education administrator… they all go into it for the right reasons. At least I hope so, and intuition and experience tell me this must be true. But just like any profession, there are those who are just naturally meant to do it, and there are those who lack some skills and somehow never pick them up.

As a parent of someone with an IEP, I’ve encountered all kinds of educators, and luckily almost all of them had their hearts in the right place. That I can work with. And I’ve learned to work with those who call in a panic because they don’t know what to do, or those who call because my son has a temperature… of 99 degrees. Or those who send me multiple emails, giving me the play-by-play of the meltdown they are trying to handle at school, all with the undertone of please-come-pick-him-up…

My Valentine to Those Who Get ItBut I am especially grateful for those that just do it, as if they were put on this planet for that express purpose. They do it with compassion and insight, with fortitude and humor. The one who, in the midst of a less than stellar day, emails me to let me know that even then, she notices improvement. The one who, after a string of days of heartbreaking behavior, simply says, “Tomorrow will be a better day,” and I know she believes it. The one who always texts me after the meltdown to let me know it’s all ok.

This is my valentine to you folks. The ones who make me a better parent, and make my child a better human being for having been cared for by you. Words cannot express how much I love you all. Keep on rockin’ your natural talents and making the Earth a better place to live. ❤

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Autism and Progress

The Boy earned all A’s this quarter, and I was so proud.  I was over the moon, though, when I read his program teacher’s comment that he has made great strides with his social communication over the past two quarters (ever since he has started at his current school).

progress

You see, report cards don’t tell you much about neuro-typical kids, let alone those on the spectrum.  Traditional report cards, anyway.  They don’t tell you about improvement and progress, they are simply a snapshot made up of a bunch of other snapshots about whether or not your kid knows what the female reproductive part of the flower is, or what an Egyptian dynasty is.  Those snapshots do not tell you whether or not your child is making friends, able to initiate a conversation, or independently pack his own backpack.  Report cards most definitely don’t tell you those things.

And in an autism household, where we take every day as it comes, and don’t think too long or hard about where The Boy will be and what he will be doing in 10 years, because there is no way to predict, and therefore little practical use in worrying/dreaming about it, I really don’t care if he knows what an acute angle is, or what the word “illuminate” means.  I’m very glad he has access to the 6th grade curriculum (and would be fighting the system tooth and nail if he didn’t), but I know how little of it he will actually use in his day-to-day life (because no one really uses any of it in their day-to-day lives, neurotypical nor on-the-spectrum).  I am much more interested in that IEP progress report that tells me how he’s doing in terms of counting change, and flexibility with his schedule.  That set of stapled sheets that is a report on the defined goals that the people who know him best have set for him for the year is way more important to me.  Because the more he succeeds at making progress toward those goals, the more I can plan for his future.  Because those skills, the being-able-to-make-a-joke-that-cracks-up-the-entire-band-class-including-the-teacher skills?  Those are the ones he’s gonna need when he’s done with school.  And those are the ones I care about.