Remember this? Last month when multiple school failures led us to the front door of the school board office. On a day when the school failed my daughter yet again, we went in search of someone in person who would listen to the list of angry complaints I had. We found a superintendent and we eventually had more meetings and more emails and more phone calls and things have settled into a somewhat more supportive routine again. Many of you sent us tweets and facebook status updates and replies and emails regarding how disgusting the whole situation was. Many of my friends who parent children with special needs have chosen to homeschool them with purpose. Some are unschooling them. Others fell into forced homeschooling when schools failed so badly – they had to remove their children from traditional schools. I remain committed to this system. A lot of you ask why. I still hold homeschooling in high regard, and it will remain an option here. My Plan B. I have no desire to homeschool. I believe I should not be forced to homeschool either. To me, that particular means of inclusion, forcing special needs families into deeper poverty etc. is the education system’s greatest lie and greatest failure too. A recent study indicated that parents with children on the autism spectrum earn significantly less than those who have neurotypical children. I fully believe this and have seen it, but it is a true fact for all parents of children with ANY special needs. This is not autism specific. My child is not autistic. She has FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder.)
I refuse to let the system off the hook entirely either. Our children with special needs have as much right to an education as any other students. As much! I hate that my child is caught in the middle of this. I will not allow it to continue for long. My daughter is too vulnerable.
My brilliant and amazing daughter has special needs. She is talented and smart and she runs from school when stressed out. This is a fact of life and has been such since she was old enough to run. It is a special hell raising kids who run. They don`t do it on purpose or because they are behavioural. They do it because they are overwhelmed. Sensory input is too much. Social stresses are too great. Supervision is lacking at school, or on the yard. Their capacity for self regulation and impulse control is missing. A part of their disability.
My friends reading this who also have children with special needs know exactly what I am referring to here. Many quit school because it is a giant time suck. A lot argue for school change.
My brilliant friend Laurel @optimom who works with children who are gifted and anxious and creative like mine contacted me again after this latest bout with school and the board and misery. She suggested I ask both my kids what they want from their education. Laurel`s heart is huge and her talent is immense.
That might sound a bit odd. Asking kids what they think? But I sat with that idea for a couple of days and then I asked my youngest girl what she thought. Now the amazing thing I have learned about parenting kids with special needs is that our kids are often extremely resilient, gifted in many ways, and forgiving. They always amaze me and surprise me and stun me with their strength. As hard as it may be to parent a child with special needs, it is 1,000 times harder to be her, to be the child struggling with special needs every day. So I asked her simply whether she still wanted to go to school or not.
And she told me clear as a bell that she has not given up on school yet.
So for now we keep going, because even when they fail, she gives them second chances. Because she hasn`t given up yet. Because she still wants to be there. Because her heart is strong. And because sometimes you just keep swimming.