Thursday, December 8, 2016

Hard And Good Times

I know I've posted before about how difficult IEP meetings can be. The focus on what my child is failing in, short on, missing out on goes against every grain of my being. Tell me what he IS doing, let's celebrate that and leave it there.

Typically IEP meetings are scheduled several weeks and sometimes even months in advance. There's lots of time to prep for it, buy a little chocolate as an incentive to make it through without crying, and talk to mentors and friends about how best to proceed. Considering Asher's Kindergarten year is fast approaching, this is one of the more serious IEP meetings and includes the psychologist who just completed his psychological eval and IQ test. So, lots of preparation would make total sense.

Except I got an email late Sunday night telling me there had been a cancellation for THIS Tuesday and would I like to meet then? I was under the misunderstanding that this would be only a meeting with the psychologist and teacher, only to go over the eval and IQ. Since I had just done that for Caedmon a few months ago, I thought it would be no problem! And then I walked into a room full of therapists and the head teacher and realized, this isn't just a quick update.

No prep time, for brain or heart. Here we go!

I am not going to outline all the bad stuff. We know he has his own developmental curve, his own way of living life and accomplishing what he needs to accomplish. He is his own drum section. And it is working for him.

The first thing every person in the room told me was how much Asher was loved. How he was a kind, thoughtful, caring little gentleman and one of their favorite students. I know they could say that to every single parent that walked in the room, but it felt sincere and heartfelt and came from all of them.

His teacher said, 'Let me tell you a story that describes Asher in my mind.'

She proceeded to tell me of how one day, a number of months ago, the teachers and therapists had an early morning parent/teacher conference. Just before school was to start, the meeting was wrapping up, but it was very heavy in the room, the parent was in tears, and no one was sure just how to close up the meeting. Just at that moment, Asher came sauntering into the room, took in the scene, walked up to the person closest to him, reached out and shook their hand, holding the hand in both of his, looking them in the eye, smiling his irresistible smile, and saying a warm 'hello'. He continued on around the circle table, doing the same for every single person at the meeting. His teacher told me, 'He just instantly lightened the mood of the entire room. Where there were tears, there were now smiles. The mother told me, "That was just what I needed." She left with hope for her own child because of what she saw in Asher.' The mother was a parent of another child with Down syndrome. She had been very upset, wondering what the future would look like for her own kid.

As the teacher finished telling the story, several of the therapists smiled and said, 'Ah, Asher!'

I was in tears, thinking about the hopelessness of that mother, something all parents with kids with special needs feel from time to time, so thankful that my little boy could be a conduit for hope and joy in her heart at such a hard time.

Every person has a purpose in this world, to bring more light into it, more love. Not more money. Not more businesses. To those who doubt the worth of children with special needs, your priorities are obviously mixed up.

Today I was on my third day of a new part time job at a nearby elementary school. As I was dismissing students, a lady came up to me. 'Are you Asher's mom?' she asked out of the blue. I assured her I was. She told me that she worked part time at his school and part time at this school. 'I thought that's who you were,' she said. 'I just want you to know, I love Asher so much! Have a great day!'

Every person has a purpose.

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