I had intended to add to my gratitude page a statement of gratitude for my girls teacher, but realized that was not nearly enough.
Since last year, my girl has been in the ‘resource’ program of special education in our school district. This is for the kids that need some academic modifications, some social/emotional, speech and organization skills as part of their IEP. The other program in the district is ‘significant support needs’ (SSN); more impacted children, medically fragile and typically lower cognitive scores. Here they are still integrated into the regular ed classrooms, but also focus on life skills, etc. In this district there is NO moderate programs, so we have a lot of kids receiving blended services.
The first year of middle school last year was really tough on all of us. It is so academic driven, therefore, my girl felt very little success when she was at school. I realized that she is not a college bound kid, so I encouraged her time at school to be valuable for HER future, and encouraged her IEP goals to reflect that; organization, social skills, self advocating, job skills and some indepenedence with meaningful math and meaningful reading.
Last fall we had some intensive testing done and was reminded again at her cognitive abilities. Yeah it is tough to hear those terms ‘moderately mentally retarded’ and I fought those words for years. But really after I LET GO of the expectation, the dreams, the ideas in my head, I realized that that really IS a good description of my girl. Sadly, the word “retard” is used inappropriately by all ages. In my house, you can say many things, that is not one of them.
Last fall we decided that the programming options in SSN would better fit my girls current skills and would offer the opportunity to build the most independence for her.
Since moving her to SSN she has had a job in the library and the cafeteria. She has joined the basketball and tennis teams. She is in charge of making copies in the main office and making some deliveries. She still goes to science, social studies and language arts. Her teachers expect her to learn ‘core concepts’ about the topic. She has pre-teaching for topics she is unfamiliar with. She participates in team time. She enjoys PE and Art. All of this is independent.
Her time at school is MEANINGFUL. No longer is it just a struggle to try to keep up with pages and pages of notes. She now has gained an experience being successful at school; socially, functionally and academically. Her math is functional and meaningful to her, what she does in science is at her ability-yet still within the topics of the classroom and her confidence and participation within the school community has risen.
After a conversation with her teacher, I asked if there was a way to include her more in the activities of the school; dances, hat day, raising money for_______, student council things. Within a few hours my girl now is helping collect money and stamps hands for Hat Day today and is scheduled to help run the concession stand at the next home game.
All side by side with typical peers. The same typical peers that I expect her to work with as an adult. She will be learning from her peers. Really, how much better can that be?
She even gets to work on those pesky social skills all day everyday. Problem solving opportunities are there everyday. Organization is shown, not done for her.
These experiences and growth that my daughter has made is because of an amazing woman that pours her heart and soul into her students. She sees the big picture. She knows where these kids are headed. Rather than just coming to work each day, this woman changes peoples lives.
For her, I am forever grateful.