“Look up, buddy. Look to the door, not at the ground. See where you’re going.”
Each morning, as my son walks from my car to the front door of his school, he sweeps the sidewalk with his feet, kicking aside anything that clutters the smooth pavement. He’s been working hard to practice looking forward so he doesn’t get bogged down by every rock that disrupts his clear path from here to there.
In his IEP meetings, too, the educational team charged with selecting his goals and helping him to achieve them, has been picking at all the little spots in his current plan. I have binders full of reports that tell me what my child can’t do. We scour the data to generate lists of target goals. Sifting through the deficits to be remediated and sensory needs to be accommodated, we try to prioritize and maximize my son’s time at school. Read More
I’d rather scheme ways to raise “awareness” outside of public campaigns and school-sponsored lessons.
I find ways to do it on the down-low; to plant covert messages and watch as misconceptions crumble.
Of course, there is always a need to engage in overt actions. When my son was in lower elementary school, he was integrated into the regular education classroom, with the support of a 1:1 aide. And, like any parent of a special needs student, I spent an exorbitant amount of time strategizing with his teachers and support staff how best to teach and support him, and set up “sensitivity training” and “friendship” programs to ensure that his peers learned how to be sensitive and friendly.
To be sure, my highly-vocal advocacy of my son’s educational and social needs helped to cultivate an inclusive mindset in his classmates and teachers.
But, I often delighted in staging more subtle acts of education to alter perceptions and transform stereotypes. When his teachers allowed for modified assignments, I exploited my son’s class projects in order to spread insidious disability awareness propaganda.
The latest CDC report says that autism now affects 1 in 88 children in the United States. My kiddo resides firmly on the “one” side of that equation. His quirkiness is clearly visible to anyone who spends more than a few seconds in his company. So, especially when it comes to school, I believe that talking about my son with the other eighty-seven is one of the most important jobs I have as his parent. Read More