Showing posts with label support for special needs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label support for special needs. Show all posts

June 16, 2017

Father’s Day snapshot

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
When Schuyler and I walk together, she’ll still take my hand or lean against me. She’s more affectionate now than I probably have any right to expect. I always tell myself “You’d better enjoy this; one day she’ll be too embarrassed to show you much affection in public.” But I don’t know. She’s seventeen now, and while she’s still changing and learning so much as she rockets towards her future after high school, it’s starting to feel like we know the person she’s going to be. Looking at Schuyler now is to see the young woman she’s going to be, and probably already is. She’s got an impossibly big heart, and the hard world seems to be failing in its constant mission to shrink it.

May 31, 2017

Productive

This week at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
So many changes. So much uncertainty. The universe just strapped a rocket pack to Schuyler’s back. We shall see what this phase of her life ultimately looks like, and how well she’ll do as she steps out into a world of superficial but pervasive human valuation. It’s a lot to take in, and I am perhaps more worried about her than I’ve been at any time since her diagnosis fourteen years ago. But even with all her anxiety and also my own, I have to say it. I like her chances.

May 26, 2017

Another Coda

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Her ultimate survival of her junior year is in large part due to the people who watch out for her, quietly and without drama, and who make it a little easier to put her on that bus in the morning and send her once more unto the breach, dear friends. Schuyler’s true friends have turned out to be the ones we didn’t see coming. There are the band directors who have watched out for her and striven to understand what makes her tick and to build a safe but unrestrictive space around her. There’s the assistant principal who has taken exactly ZERO of her nonsense but who has become her absolute greatest advocate on her school’s staff. Then there are the members of her percussion section who have pushed her but who also love her dearly, as they made crystal clear at a percussion party last weekend in a moment that most certainly did NOT make me cry, I have allergies, shut up. And there are the countless people who see her at school and like what they see and greet her every single time they see her. Walking the halls with Schuyler is like hanging out with the Fonz.


May 18, 2017

I see you. I see what you’re doing.

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
We push back against ableist speech, over and over again, because we hope, against all the evidence to the contrary, that things might get better. And they did just a little, for a while, I think. And then a candidate for the presidency made fun of a reporter with a disability, and the citizens of this country saw the video of his grotesque behavior and decided that yeah, that’s our guy. And while that at least gave us a platform for advocating for disability rights, particularly at the Democratic National Convention, it also gave people license to say and do terrible things about and to our loved ones. So in the balance, things probably don’t change all that much after all.

April 27, 2017

Safe Spaces

This week at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Safe spaces seem antithetical in some ways to the idea of eventual independence, but the truth is, we all need our supports. It’s different for kids like Schuyler as they grow out of childhood, of course. Her independent life is probably always going to come with an asterisk, and the thing I’ve been working on lately, with a good deal of success, is being okay with that. Schuyler requires safe spaces, but they’re not fake places, nor are they segregated or isolated. And within those tended gardens, I think astonishing things are going to grow.

April 19, 2017

I think I’ve got a quarter if they need one.

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Weird? How are we measuring “weird”? What does “weird” look like for someone like Schuyler? Or for anyone else? I mean, we spend weekends driving around looking for invisible monsters to catch with our phones. Our threshold for weird might not necessarily line up with the purveyors of this particular behavioral inventory.

April 6, 2017

Monster Island

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
I’m not sure where I’m going with this post, because I’m not sure what the takeaway is. Schuyler had a good time, except when she very much didn’t. Her social anxiety only hit after her seizure, but boy did it land hard after that. She laughed hard most of the time, including once so enthusiastically that we literally heard her from the other side of the resort. But she also cried harder than I can really remember her crying for many years. She was probably happy 80% of the trip, but that other 20% had real teeth and claws. Schuyler adored the beach and looked hard for sea creatures on the sand. But in the end, it was a very familiar monster that found her.

March 29, 2017

The Seventy-five Percent Solution

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
For Schuyler specifically, and for no doubt a great many of her peers, having the ability to pass for neurotypical in surface-level social interactions has probably given her an ambitious view of what her future could look like. If she can pass 75% of the time, that’s probably enough to convince her that she could take on a life of total independence. And that’s great, but it’s also a problem, because that other 25% is where heartbreak lives.

We've met before.

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Those of us raising our kids in public school environments have a pretty good idea of what de minimis really looked like in its worst case scenarios. We’ve subsisted on the scraps that fall from the educational table. For the Supreme Court to now compel public schools to give our kids the opportunity to make meaningful, substantial and “appropriately ambitious” progress? That has to potential to change our lives and the futures of our kids. We’ll deal with the private school tuition issue later. (Private schools mostly don’t want our kids anyway. That’s a very ugly truth.)

March 9, 2017

Inclusion is a work in progress

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
So what do our kids need from an inclusive society, before we even consider their classroom environment? We could start with patience. And along with that, opportunity, in employment and independent living and carving out those places where my daughter Schuyler and people like her can develop their talents and use them. As a society, we’ve built this structure that values contribution, but in a very limited scope. “What do you do?” We hear that question and we know what it means. “How do you produce capital? How do you feed the machine?” And that’s not a very useful metric for people like Schuyler. 
(From my SXSW panel remarks)

March 2, 2017

Spaces for the Hard Stuff

This week at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Schuyler continues to build a world around herself, and sometimes that means making space for the monsters and the earthquakes and the hidden traps that wait to spring out and destroy the careless. As a parent, it’s tempting to try to soothe the world’s edges, but of course that’s counterproductive, particularly with a seventeen year-old, even one as different as Schuyler. She sees the grief of others and she tries to take it on herself, partly because she is literally the most empathetic person I’ve ever known, but also, I think perhaps she’s trying it on a little. Terrible things happen to good people, Schuyler observes, and so she plays with that grief and that heartbreak in her imagination, just in case she ever needs it for herself.

February 23, 2017

The Persistence of Little Fish

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
When I wrote about the little fish that quietly eat our kids up while we’re busy watching for sharks, I had no idea how many little fish were going to spawn in the coming years, or how sharp their teeth would become.

February 2, 2017

From the bottom of the sea

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Schuyler's world just became much, much larger, and as it turns out, that scares her as much as it scares me. Maybe more, because the world she sees and experiences isn't quite the same as that in which the rest of us live. She's got a lot more to process now, and this week, I think it became a bit too much. Throw some errant electricity into her brain, and a storm erupts. She rides it out as best as she can, and we with her. This one was bad, but there'll be no shipwreck this time.

January 25, 2017

This is why.

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Schuyler was surrounded and engulfed and protected by a sea of women, and she understood, I think maybe for the first time, just how large her tribe could be. As she grows older, Schuyler's people becomes a more inclusive group, more intersectional. She took a big step at the march. Her disability advocacy took on more feminism that she'd felt or shown before. Her world grew bigger, and with it her protest and her advocacy.

January 19, 2017

Exploring Worlds Both Dark and Lovely

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
In taking my own focus inward to her more immediate world and trying to help as best I can, I feel like maybe I can recapture my own sense of autonomous self. I can't solve the Big Thing, but I can tell her what it was like when I was seventeen and trying to figure out if love was a thing for me. I can tell her what I got wrong, which weirdly seems to give her comfort. I have value as a cautionary tale, I suppose, which is true of my adult, parenting self as well. So many times, I feel like my fatherly approach to the walls that stand in her way is to keep smashing my face into them over and over until I find a brick that's loose.

January 12, 2017

Denial

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
There are two kinds of deniers. There are the kind that are just goofy, like moon landing deniers. They're not hurting anyone, they're just being kooks, God bless 'em. And then there's the other kind. September 11th was an inside job, they say. Sandy Hook was a hoax. The Holocaust never happened. Donald Trump wasn't mocking people with disabilities. These deniers aren't just trying to change the narrative to fit whatever their ideology might be. They are erasing people, they are taking the struggles and the particulars of the lives of vulnerable people or people who have been destroyed by the world and they're simply sweeping it away, as if it had never happened. If there's pain there, from the agony of a family wiped out by a hateful ideology or an act of violence to the heartbreak of a parent watching the future president turn their children into a joke and an insult, well, that pain is wiped away with simply denial. Didn't happen. The media lied. You're being too sensitive. You're being politically correct.

January 4, 2017

Desensitized

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
I recently read an article that posed a question that honestly hadn't occurred to me before. Can the perhaps inevitable hyper-vigilance that comes from parenting a child with a disability result in (or manifest as a symptom of) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? I'm mildly surprised that I'd never thought of it in those terms, since the obvious answer is yes, of course it can. And the question is more complicated because for parents of kids with disabilities, hyper-vigilance isn't necessarily an inappropriate response. Terms like "hyper-vigilance" and "helicopter parenting" don't carry the same meanings to those of us taking care of kids with disabilities. For many, they are meaningless descriptors. A constant state of vigilance, near-constant supervision, cradle-to-grave worry, these are necessities for a great many special needs parents. The vocabulary of the abled fails us in that regard. And PTSD may just be one of those things we file away with all the other uniquely unsettling stuff that comes with the territory.

December 28, 2016

"At least I think that's so..."

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
I'm not going to try to pretend I'm hopeful, or that I believe the inherent goodness of my fellow citizens of the world is going to be our salvation. Maybe I should. Perhaps the first step to making it rain is seeding the clouds, I don't know. All I know for sure is that if 2017 is going to be survivable, if we're all going to get out of this intact and not epically broken, it's going to be because we did two things. Two things, just two, that's what I believe is necessary. They're easy, and they're hard. We need to take care of ourselves. And we need to take care of each other, in a very meaningful and personal way.

December 21, 2016

To my Heart, at Seventeen

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
You know the truth, which is something we've always tried to give you no matter how hard a truth it might be. You understand the life that your little monster has made for you, or has attempted to make for you, anyway. You've simply refused to accept those limitations as concrete. You've shamed those of us who've tried at various times to define the limits of the person who you can become. For that above everything else, I'm proud of you, heartburstingly so.

December 16, 2016

The Value of Protest

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
Protest forms special needs parents into people we would not otherwise be, and sometimes honestly never wanted to be. We become accustomed to advocacy, to stepping up when doing so makes things weird for everyone else. We learn not to care about the awkwardness, because our protest is God's work, it's in the service of the thing that we do that matters the most, the building of an equitable place for our children to operate. Others may care, others may love our kids and want the best for them, but no one else bears the responsibility to get things right like we do. When our kids grow up, many of them will move in various degrees towards independent life, and more important perhaps, lives that have meaning, and personal fulfillment. Our kids will require accommodations in a world that is loathe to provide them, either in services or equal opportunities or even just a social narrative in which they are allowed to be fully human. The world pushes against our disabled kids, and so for as long as we are able to do so, we protest, and we push back.