July 19, 2016

Acceptance, with an asterisk

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
When I was younger and more earnest, I wanted the fixes. I'm older and spiritually winded now, and I'm faced with the strong will of a daughter who's stretching her wings and exploring her own choices. When we talked about the idea of acceptance, and of looking for peace rather than solutions, Schuyler understood that. She's still not done trying to reshuffle the deck, though. And as hard to read as the future is right now, I don't expect that to change even a little.

July 12, 2016

The Watcher

This morning at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
There's a lot more for Schuyler to unpack about this, some of it making zero sense at all. I'm not sure Schuyler entirely comprehends racism, except of course she understands being hated and abused or even just dismissed for being different, so I suspect racism's one she probably gets. It's hard to explain to her when she's probably safe and when she's not, because I don't know myself. Schuyler's white, she's a woman, and she has a disability. She'll probably be just fine in a way that is horribly unfair, until the day comes when she's very much NOT fine, also in a way that is horribly unfair. She has both privilege and disadvantage, neither of which is easy to explain to her.

July 5, 2016

Precarious Indifference

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
How would Schuyler have reacted in Hannah's situation? I can't say. I imagine she would respond differently, probably shutting down in frustration rather than trying to run. But how can I be sure? How can any of us know? This is why parents of young adults like Hannah Cohen or Schuyler or countless other responded to this story with such visceral fear and anger last week. We don't know how such an encounter would go, but we've been doing this long enough to presume that "happily ever after" isn't where the smart money goes.

June 27, 2016

Awkward Miracles

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
It's easy to think of Miracle League as a place of gentle interactions, but that's really not the case at all. The players push hard, although when someone gets knocked down, everyone goes full Chumbawamba immediately. The kids compete fiercely, but it's complicated, because they're not just competing with each other. They push themselves hard, they focus on the task at hand, and they are in a constant state of simultaneous conflict and negotiation with their disabilities. When professional athletes claim to leave it all on the field, this is what that really looks like.

June 20, 2016

No Atticus

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
When I look at the work I do, at the life I live as a father, I see a lot that I don't understand. I don't always think I'm providing what Schuyler requires, and I don't feel like I set the kind of example that she needs. She sees a father who has to watch pennies, who raises his voice sometimes, who gets impatient with the world and with her. She observes a father who gets so frustrated with the unfairness of her world that he seems to feel a kind of low-grade anger most of the time, and one who increasingly likes people less and less. I think she sees my fear. I'm pretty sure she understands how terrified I am about so many things, about a future that I can't see or understand, and about a little monster in her head that continues to cloud her future and whose fang and claw I underestimate at my very foolish peril. I'm afraid sometimes of the father she sees, of the sadness that I try so hard to hide from her and from the world.

June 14, 2016

Explaining the devil to angels

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
Schuyler's view of the world is a little fantastical and a little simple. It has room for monsters, but not like these. It has room for sadness and fear, but not like this. And her intellectual disability would make it easy to punt this a bit, to file down the sharp points and distract her until the world goes back to talking about the stupid election and who Taylor Swift is dating. But I refuse to do it.

May 16, 2016

Overbelief in Action

Today at Support for Special Needs:

Excerpt:  
This was no pity prize. This wasn't macaroni art on the fridge, or the much maligned participation trophy that some find so hilarious. No, this recognized her individual achievement. It identified Schuyler as someone who did hard work and expanded her own personal boundaries and abilities. For that, I couldn't be more proud of her.  
This award recognizes something more, however. It illustrates the tangible results of teachers who see a student like Schuyler for the possibilities she represents, not just the challenges. It gives us a much-needed example of what inclusion really can look like, not just a pedagogical buzz word but a working philosophy. It reminds us that every student has hidden abilities, and that they can be unleashed if teachers and support team members will simply look beyond what they see in the moment and dare to over believe.