And gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11

Friday, May 28, 2010

Full of Grace: A Special Needs Mother's Teachable Moment

Jake's fate: In the end, don't we all have special needs?
Friday, May 28, 2010

Renee Georgi recently received an anonymous letter from "concerned parents" asking her to find an alternative classroom setting for her son Jake, who has autism, because he is a "distraction" to other children and requires "extra time" from teachers. Here is the letter and her reply:

Dear Ms. Georgi,

I am writing on behalf of a growing group of concerned parents at Hampton High. While we can understand and even sympathize with you wanting your son Jake in a "normal" learning environment, we feel that the extra time he demands, coupled with his distractions, is unfair to the rest of the children. With getting into a good college becoming more and more competitive, we feel that our children are not getting the education they need due to one child taking up an inordinate amount of time and causing distractions.

We feel it would be in the best interest of all the children if you would consider an alternative setting for Jake. In no way are we faulting you for wanting what you think is best for your child; we only wish that you consider the impact on the other children.

Thank you for your time and consideration with this important decision.

Dear Concerned Parents,

In your letter, you asked me to "consider an alternative setting" for my son. With all due respect, I think I'll pass and keep my son right where he is.

You see, my son and the many others like him have fought very, very hard to get where they are today. And the reason they are where they are today is because most of society sees the potential that children with special needs have when they are taught in the way that they learn.

Every year our son makes more and more strides and requires fewer supports in school, giving him a greater chance at becoming an independent, productive member of society who can interact with all types of people. In addition to academics, life skills and social skills, he has also been taught specifically how to work through various distractions in the classroom. Since your child seems to be struggling in this area, I recommend speaking with your child's teacher to learn strategies that work for both regular-education and special-education students.

Another recommendation I would like to make is for you to do an Internet search on the word "IDEA" (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). You see, according to the IDEA's Least Restrictive Environment or mainstreaming policy, school districts are required to educate students with disabilities in regular classrooms with their non-disabled peers, in the school they would attend if not disabled, to the maximum extent appropriate.

It is the law.

I think this might help you understand why schools like Hampton have co-taught classrooms. If you do a bit more research, I think you will also find that IDEA's positive impact has been across the board with both regular-education and special-education students. I firmly believe that the students who take the time to get to know their fellow classmates with special needs will likely end up being the successful leaders and role models in the world who have the skills to interact with all types of people.

Over the years I have had many parents approach me and tell me how much their children have enjoyed getting to know my son and how much the relationship has enriched their children's experiences at school. Parents tell me that the things my son teaches their children simply can not be taught in a text book or by a teacher. They are life lessons.

I attribute this positive mindset on the part of these children to both the guidance they receive at home and to the district's teaching of a civic virtues program to the students over the past several years. Perhaps the program should be made available to parents, as well, since it is apparent that the students are not the only ones who could use a good lesson in virtues such as kindness, respect and tolerance.

In closing, I ask that you address any of your concerns to your children's respective teachers in the future. Like many parents, I have found the staff at Hampton to be most engaging, helpful and willing to assist parents with individual educational concerns such as yours.

Sincerely ...

Renee Georgi is a pre-school teacher and mother who lives in Hampton (

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Top 20 Reasons Moms of Special Needs Kids ROCK

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all special needs moms! I hope you enjoy this list of the top 20 reasons we are special (sent to me by momlogic).

Top 20 Reasons Why Moms of Kids With Special Needs ROCK

1) Because we never thought that "doing it all" would mean doing this much. But we do do it all -- and then some.

2) Because we've discovered patience we never knew we had.

3) Because we are willing to do something 10 times, 100 times or 1,000 times if that's what it takes for our kids to learn something new.

4) Because we have heard doctors tell us the worst, and we've refused to believe them. Take THAT naysaying doctors of the world!

5) Because we have bad days and breakdowns and bawl-fests, and then we pick ourselves up and keep right on going.

6) Because we gracefully handle the stares, the comments, the rude remarks. (Well, mostly gracefully.)

7) Because we manage to get ourselves together and get out the door looking pretty damn good. Heck, we even make sweatpants look good!

8) Because we are strong. Man, are we strong. Who knew we could be this strong?

9) Because we aren't just moms, wives, cooks, cleaners, chauffeurs and women who work. We are moms, wives, cooks, cleaners, chauffeurs, women who work, physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, researchers, nurses, coaches and cheerleaders. Whew!

10) Because we work overtime every single day.

11) Because we also worry overtime, but we work it through. Or we eat chocolate or Pirate's Booty or gourmet cheese (which aren't reimbursable by insurance as mental-health necessities, but should be).

12) Because we are more selfless than other moms. Our kids need us more.

13) Because we give our kids with special needs endless love, and then we still have so much love left for our other kids, our husbands, our families. And our hairstylists, of course.

14) Because we inspire one another in this crazy blogosphere every single day.

15) Because we understand our kids better than anyone else -- even if they can't talk; even if they can't gesture; even if they can't look us in the eye. We know. We just know.

16) Because we never stop pushing for our kids.

17) Because we never stop hoping for them, either.

18) Because just when it seems like things are going OK, they're suddenly not OK, but we deal. Somehow, we always deal -- even when it seems like our heads or hearts might explode.

19) Because when we look at our kids, we just see great kids -- not kids with cerebral palsy/autism/Down syndrome/developmental delays/whatever.

20) Because ... well, you tell me.

Courtesy: Love That Max.

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