We’re both special educators. We’ve both worked in a variety of environments and in different roles with children with various disabilities. We have collaborated and continue to collaborate with other professionals. We get it. We understand the paperwork, the state requirements, the long days. However, we also are both moms to children with disabilities. We continuously sit on both sides of the table. We have sat and heard information about our children that hurts our heart. We see where they’ve been excluded in a game or a social activity at school because of their differences. To their teachers, we promise to try to support you. As moms with a background of knowledge, we do have times where we feel frustration with the system, frustration of missed deadlines or IEPs not completely being followed.
With all of this being said, we would like to go back to one point in particular. As a teacher, please don’t say “it will be okay.” Those words stir up my insides. When I come to you to tell you about my child with a disability, please don’t tell me you’ve worked with “kids like him before”. You may have worked with a child with ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, or another disability like my child’s, but you have not yet worked with MY child. He is unique and his triggers are different from the last child with whom you worked. As parents, we often collaborate with other professionals to help our family and our children. When we offer to share that information with you, it’s inviting you into our inner circle. Please take our extended hand instead of saying you already know about this diagnosis and “it will be okay.” We are asking for you to join us in collaborating for the highest benefit of our child. As parents, we will do our best to speak respectfully to you and help understand your views and perspective. We ask for the same courtesy back. Parents know their children best. We can share what our child’s fears are, what his/her dreams are, and what makes him/her happy and sad. Those things are unique to each child and go beyond a diagnosis.
We agree there are some generalizations we can make based on a specific diagnosis. Our children, however, are still unique. It is so important in our children’s lives that the adults get to know them, just like you do with other children. Taking the time to make those individual connections with our children will help with understanding what they need to be taught. Often times, our children need to be taught skills that other children pick up naturally in their development. Getting to know them personally and collaborating with parents and other professionals helps you stretch and grow as an educator and in return will help our children do the same.
Yes, we too believe that it can “be okay”. We also recognize that for this to even be a possibility, we ALL need to work together and do our best to hear the words that each of us has to offer. This is the reason why we created this company. Let us help by being the bridge that spans the gap. The only way that it can actually “be okay” is if we all learn how to work together for a common interest: the success of our children.
Christina and Wendy