Special needs kids and parents are the bomb.
Why you ask? Because right out of the gate they are non-conformists. And non-box fitters are my kind of people. This is a world so consumed with fitting in and being part of the group. But what happens to those kids who don’t quite fit?
Out of the box
A child with special needs or chronic illness doesn’t always fit well into check-off boxes. You notice it at different times such as:
When my 3rd child, Peyton, was in first grade his teacher and I had a conference to discuss his standardized test results. We were in a little room and my kids were all running around, : } and she pushed his test across the table to me. He’s only in the first percentile for his age group, she told me.
Now I was a teacher and I knew what that meant. 99 of those 100 hundred kids did better on that test than he did.
Should I be upset, sad, scared, worried? Perhaps. But I wasn’t and here’s why. While those other hundred kids had been busy with first-grade stuff like numbers, letters and whatnot, my one-percenter had been trying to survive a pretty scary illness that frequently landed him in the hospital. Peyton had a port in his chest and due to frequent sinus infections and pneumonia, we weren’t sure he could always hear well.
I pushed the test back across the table to her and said, He’ll be fine. I didn’t care then and I don’t care now. Had I been the teacher I might have led with, “he is simply amazing for what he’s been through.” But she didn’t.
What can’t be measured
Take a moment and think about your life. Make a mental list of the happiest times, proudest moments and warmest memories.
Here’s a few of mine:
Hands down the births of my four children
Holidays and birthdays
Awesome and amazing friends
Laughing at stupid inside jokes
Phone calls from my best friend Tony at 1 in the morning to compare stories from our nursing shifts
Learning to stand up for myself and finding my true voice
Pride in obtaining and graduating with 3 college degrees at the top of my class
I could go on
I’m wondering if your list looks anything like mine.
Take a look at the source of your joy.
Shaky beginnings……lead to great places
By all means encourage your kids to stretch and do their very best. Not someone else’s best, not to look good on a standardized test, and certainly not to impress anyone.
Here’s my point. Only one of the things I listed revolves around my grades or education. And in case you are wondering I graduated right in the middle of my high school class with iffy grades and I was a runaway. Not a spectacular start. Not anything to brag about for sure. Testing at that point probably would have looked bleak.
But that wasn’t the end of my story. My circumstances improved and I have found my way into 2 careers in my lifetime. Best of all I consider myself a success.
In whatever way your child doesn’t fit neatly into the box, remember this. Our experiences, struggles and challenges qualify us to fit into the only box that matters. The box with our name on it that no one else can fill.
And by the way, my kid who was the one percenter in first grade? He’s a high school graduate now. He’s off to nursing school when he graduates and I imagine he’ll have a perspective from his own experiences as a patient that will make him a great nurse.
So much for standardized tests.
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Hey there! I’m Betsy. Mom, RN, special education teacher and blogger at In Case You Need To Know. Working hard to bring you the best resources in autism.