Many many years ago I sat in a conference room with a team of educators and professionals and began my long journey down the road called ‘Special Education’. At that time, this was a path that I knew nothing about and honestly I did not want to be on. I remember being devastated that she would be riding a little bus to school. Devastated. Interesting, I was not devastated that she was identified as a preschooler with a disability. My stuff I know. Over the years I attended these annual meetings–sometimes with advocates or attorneys–but mostly solo. Sometimes I attended them happily, and sometimes I attended them with volatile emotions. Year after year we reviewed her deficits, her areas of growth, and created goals to work on.
By the time middle school came I was adamant that her programming needed change to a more vocational track, which in our incredibly academic and high achieving school district, was an enormous battle. Our final meeting was held to discuss supports that have helped her over her public education career, what her strengths and needs are, and how prepared she is to exit. I sat in complete awe of the amazing young woman sitting next to me. Her full-scale IQ tests at a mere 51, but her skills are far, far beyond what anyone may have ever thought possible. As she described the things that worked for her–extra time, a peer partner, written instructions, to be shown how to do the task, and access to help–I listened to her advocate for herself and be openly honest with who she is. At one point, she turned to me and signaled a high-five and said, “Go team-Lindsey”. That statement was better than any ‘I love you’ or ‘thank you’ she may ever say to me..
Watching her and listening to her made it all completely worth it.
And so, we have arrived at the end of the path or how I felt more recently, the train has arrived at the station. Before we catch the next train, my girl and I are going to celebrate all that we have seen and accomplished while on board this one knowing the next one awaits.