August 24, 2016

Junior

This week, at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
In years past, her first day of school nerves were pretty epic. This year, it wasn't such a big deal. She got dressed in the outfit she'd been planning for weeks, with her hair newly dyed in a fantastic purple that really has to been seen to be truly appreciated. We sat outside waiting for her bus, and right before it got there, we fired up Pokémon Go on our devices to discover that a Pikachu was standing next to us. If you play the game, you probably understand what a big deal that was, having him standing right there mere feet outside our doorway. (Just go with it, please.) Schuyler was thrilled at her miracle Pikachu. She climbed on the bus, fantastically cool omen critter in virtual hand, and she never looked back.

August 17, 2016

Back to You-Know-Where

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
Our big plans for the new school year don't always work out, and sometimes they REALLY don't (hoo boy, let's swap some stories!), but what you learn after a while is that it's the small things that sort of anchor the tent in the wind. It's doing that first walk-through where your kid maybe finds the anchor points in the building where they can get their bearings, and you get the sense that perhaps your kid won't get lost on the first day, or at least not on the second. It's that moment when you see another kid greet yours like maybe they might be friends, and they don't seem to have any obvious psychopathic tendencies or visible swastika tattoos. It might just be that small feeling, the one that suggests that this is big, but it's not too big. It's doable.

August 9, 2016

Optimism on the Launch Pad

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Because I am who I am, I look at Schuyler's positive new school experience, and I wonder what's the catch. But being an overbeliever in Schuyler sometimes means extending that overbelief to those around her, too. So here we go.

August 4, 2016

Shouting Over the Walls

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
So many of the discussions and emails I've received lately have reminded me of how tall the castle walls can loom, and how deep the moat runs. I've been told that my opinions on politics and other topics are distorted by the experience of being a disability parent. There was the email telling me that yeah, sure, kids in special education classes need more resources, but so do kids in gifted and talented programs, and I should be advocating for both equally. I've been told that being a special education teacher or knowing people with kids with autism means understanding exactly what the lives of people with disabilities and their parents are like. I've seen, time and time again, parents of kids with disabilities told that their challenges aren't any more daunting than those of any other parents. It's the "we've all got troubles, bub" argument, first cousin once removed of "quit your bitching already". I'm reminded again and again that for those of us attempting to build lives with disabled kids while trying to live normal ones ourselves (pretty much an impossibility, but you've got to try), it's a sucker's bet to try and explain that no, it's not the same as any other family, and usually it's not even close. Put it in a hashtag if you will, but remember that #NotJustDisabledKids sounds a lot like #AllLivesMatter to us.  

July 27, 2016

The Disposable and the Unseen

This morning at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
When I read the story of the attack in Japan, it struck me that Satoshi Uematsu’s position on the disabled as being a burden on their loved ones and a drain on Japanese society is grotesque and extreme, no doubt. But it echoes an argument made time and time again in this country as well, at school board meetings and on educational discussion boards and on newspaper opinion pages in every American community. “How much are we going to spend on special education when there are gifted and talented kids who have so much more to…” (wait for it…) “contribute to society?” Petitioning to the government to have people with disabilities “euthanized” is horrific, but it’s not an unfamiliar narrative except in its awful scale. We all own a little bit of Uematsu’s horror.

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.