Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Eleanor Roosevelt spoke the truth many years ago when she said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." This post is for all of you who have continued to believe in Asa and what he can do. My son, Asa, has taught me to dwell in possibility, not disabilty. He will be 7 in August, and he has proved so many professionals wrong. To successfully guide Asa I have had to understand the difference between him and the rest of the world and turn his disabilities into strengths as quickly as possible. It takes constant vigilance, watching constantly and waiting for opportunities to swoop in and not only reassure him with love, but teach him how to succeed-quirks and all.
Now that Asa and I are out for summer, we venture out alot. Asa loves going out. He absolutely loves it. When we are at the mall, he is screaming with excitement and flapping his hands, like he has just won a million dollars. It is hard to sometimes get him to walk beside me, and if someone happens to be in the way, Asa may display some rude behaviors. It is hard when a child has a disability that you can't see, outsiders are quick to blame the parents for bad behavior. To me, Asa's behavior is not bad at all, it is just him and I know the more he is exposed, the more he will become used to his environment and learn how to act appropriately.
Asa has been in school since he was 3 years old. He was in a special education Pre-K classroom for 2 years at a public school, then attended Kindergarten in a special ed self contained classroom. This classroom consisted of an assortment of children with different challenges, more individual work tailored to each child's needs, was done in a resource room. I believe that, for some children-those with very specific needs or a severe disability-this self-contained environment is the best option. But I constantly worried about if Asa would find enough role models to learn appropriate behavior by spending time in one of these rooms for a good portion of the day. Whether a child splitting his time as he gets older is a personal decision for each parent-if you have a good educational team and a supportive principal( as with our case), you can gradually wean your child into a regular education classroom.
I began to realize that even more this past school year. I realized, in order for him to learn how to socialize with children who have normal communication skills, he needed to be around typically developing peers more often. So, this past spring, Asa became part of the regular classroom, with the help of an aide. My argument was this-when Asa grows up and needs to buy groceries, will he go to the "special-needs" grocery story? Or will he go to the store we all go to? When he wants to go to the movies, does he have to go to the "special-needs" movie theater or the one we all go to? If I want Asa to grow up and live and thrive in our community, he needs to be in the community now! I have also learned that the more I take him out in the community, the more we venture beyond our comfort zone, the more he relates to the world around him in a typical way.
I used to question why God had given me a child like Asa. But now I realize why God gave me him: He is a gift, a very precious gift, one who has taught not only me, but everyone he has known, lessons in life. Among many lessons, he has taught us patience, tolerance, acceptance, equality, and perseverance to overcome obstacles to success. Most of all, he has taught me about unconditional love, and the light at the end of HIS tunnel is brighter than ever:)