Wednesday, June 3, 2009

IT'S BEEN GOOD!

The Jazz Bear made a special stop in Miss Ralph's classroom!
Lily's class was part of the gold medal activities

On field day the fire trucks came to play water games!

Notice the Jazz ball, Miss Ralph is a BIG FAN!

Christmas ornament


I think one of the biggest lessons I have learned from having a child with a disability is to do what is best for your own child and not give in to what society says you should do. As the state president of the Utah Down Syndrome Foundation I have heard horror stories from parents regarding their child's IEP and school situation. I have always counseled parents to know their rights and stand up for their child.
When Lily started kindergarten, in a mainstreamed classroom, I was ready for "the fight" well there was no fight, things went well, Lily had a great teacher who told me that in kindergarten children start to read, so Lily would start to read and sure enough that is when she started reading. 1st grade went well and 2nd grade went well. But BUT along came third grade, that didn't go so well at first. She started off in a mainstream classroom, but it was obvious that the other students were passing her by socially, physically, and academically and it didn't help that the new special ed teacher (3rd one in 3 years) didn't want to take the time to modify Lily's work and asked all the aides too write down everything Lily did wrong. She kept pushing for self-contained. For that I am truly grateful. I'm just not grateful for the way she handled it. Long story short we put Lily into a self-contained classroom at the first part of October, her 3rd grade year. I could have fought with the teacher, the school, and the system and won, but what would I be winning? Lily was not happy.
Moving schools was probably one of the best things we could have done for Lily. I went against everything I had ever told another parent! I didn't know differently, that is what our society (the world of disabilities) teaches and shouts, mainstream, mainstream, mainstream! I still believe that a child with disabilities benefits tremendously from being in a mainstreamed classroom the first few years of school, but now I believe a parent needs to stand back, observe,and listen. Observe you child, Lily went from happy to sad. Listen to your child, Lily told me she didn't feel well and didn't want to go to school.
She flourished when we moved her. The kids in her classroom opened her with welcome arms! They are beautiful kids with trachs, wheelchairs, hearing aids, Autism, Down syndrome, sign language, leg braces, and on and on. They accepted Lily for who she was. It was a teary eyed day for me when she walked into that classroom for the first time and all the children came up to her and asked if she was staying and would she stay for lunch, instead of being shunned from the typical students that I had also witnessed. I was shocked that the teachers allowed her to actually touch the computer! I was thrilled when she came home with math papers and understood! I was happy that she was excited to go to school again.
4th grade found her in a new school again, still in a self-contained classroom. Again, she has soared. Her teacher believes in teaching both academically and socially. They have done oral reports, learned about and wrote reports on the holidays, the new president, and even eating right. They talk about how to treat others and how to act in certain situations. The school itself has been good to this classroom. Lily is known by everyone, even the custodian! There are buddies that come into the classroom and help out. This is a big deal to the typical kids, something they look forward too.
Lily came home from school today with a CD full of pictures. A mom had come in and taken pictures throughout the year of everything. What a great thing to do. I love to see the smiles on the faces of these kids.
It's been a good year, it's actually been a good 4 years. And, I'm really glad that I listened to my child instead of going with society on this one.

12 comments:

stephanie said...

I guess in these special situations with our special sweeties, sometimes they know best.I'm not in your place yet,(school) but one day I will be. It scares me a little.I worry if she will be ok.Looks like Lilly, is doing great, she sure is amazing.

Lacey said...

Yeah I am actually having this problem with my autistic child right now. They went to a new school this year, and they have been less than helpful and its beena a struggle all year just to get him to go. I have applied for Pingree for him again. And although his resource teacher thinks next year will be better, I'm still keeping that application in for Pingree, I just think thats the best place for him to be.

Ria said...

I really liked this post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on schooling and the importance of listening to our children and doing what is best for them. I am not in your situation yet, but I know I will remember you when I am.

Beverly said...

Oh, I love your post! Yes, we have to do what is right for our child. Thanks for visiting my blog and I look forward to reading more about your family.

Beth said...

I hear this same kind of story from many many parents as their child gets into the middle and upper elementary years. As much as we want inclusion to happen, if it isn't done correctly, it's useless. It's far better to listen to the child and meet their needs. At this point I can't imagine Hannah (11) being successful in an inclusive setting if she were to attend school.

Good for you to take the chance with the new classroom! Every child wants to be accepted and have the chance to shine. It's hard to always be struggling to keep up.

Well done!

Ria said...

HI! I just read your beautiful story in the book "Windows Into Heaven". I love how her name was chosen. That is just so perfect!

By the way, I wrote a little book review of Windows Into Heaven on my blog. Feel free to stop by if you get a chance.

http://billandria.blogspot.com/2009/06/book-review-windows-into-heaven-stories.html

K,S&P said...

I hsve so much to learn!!

P.S. here's the link for that milestone chart off my blog...
http://www.ndss.org/images/stories/NDSSresources/developmental_milestones.pdf

K,S&P said...

trying this one again...

http://www.ndss.org/images/stories/
NDSSresources/developmental_
milestones.pdf

Tausha said...

Suzie:
Thank you so much for this post. It has helped both my husband and I. I know we are not school bound yet but will be before we know it and it already stresses us out. Thanks for letting us know it's okay to not mainstream if our child isn't happy and to listen to the child and not what others say. Thanks, you are an inspiration to us.

Lynn said...

Someone put the link to your blog on hers today. I couldn't wait to come and check it out! I work in a self contained class room as an aide. I love it. But I have also worked in a mainstreamed situation. You are right to listen to your child and I am so glad she is doing so well. I love all my kids and I wouldn't trade this job for anything, they are very special and caring children but also a challenge. Let them be kids don't hold them back. I had a new students mother of a downs child tell me this year he is cute and he knows he is cute BUT DON'T LET HIM KNOW "YOU" THINK HE IS CUTE. He needs structure and discipline he is 5 now but he will be 18 some day! I knew from that day She Gets It! She wants him to be as independant as he can possible be, and he will...
Keep up the great work and I'll keep watching!!!

datri said...

I just wanted to thank you so much for this. From the time our kids are born, we keep hearing about how inclusion is the best. Well, it's not the best for MY child in OUR school district.

rebecca said...

Well written, and I agree, we must always do what's best for our individual child rather than what the majority of people are pushing as the "right" thing to do at any given time.

I'm so glad to read that Lily is accepted in her classroom with peers she can identify with, and that she is flourishing. That's what it's all about isn't it?

Thank you for sharing.