The special education system is difficult at times to understand and navigate. I feel part of my role as a mom is to educate others on special needs children and the services they receive.
First of all, the services children are entitled to do not warrant judgement from anyone except the parents. Special accommodations are available to students with special needs. Period. This is the law. As I said before, my daughter qualifies for secondary insurance. Let me explain. My family of 6 has primary insurance, but Camryn has this other insurance for the following reasons:
· Occupational therapy
· Behavioral health services
· Physical therapy
· Wrap-around services
· Speech Therapy
· ABA Therapy
These are all services that are either capped by primary insurance or most likely not even available. So because of this blessing, Camryn can continue to receive services. Just like anyone else who needs medically necessary health care services or treatments. This is regardless of the parental income. Oh and the child must have a serious disability that is expected to last at least a year or in my daughter’s case, a lifetime. Process that. A lifetime.
Aren’t these parents lucky? When a mom is pregnant, do you think she is happy that her 11 year old has to wear diapers at nighttime, has to have her menstural cycle stopped or have in home services to TEACH her how to shower?
Also, kids with IEPs can be in school until they are 21. Aren’t they lucky? While other 21 year olds are in college, my child will be receiving job training with the hopes that she can be a contributing member of society. Isn’t that what we want? People to contribute, not just live off the system. While other 21 year olds are celebrating their 21st birthdays, I will be navigating the system to determine where Camryn will live; will she stay with us, will she move into an assisted living situation; will she be able to have an apartment. Thank God she gets these extra years and the district helps, because families of special needs children need all the help they can get. These young adults get these extra years so they can be trained to be employed by experts in school districts.
Let me explain why we need help:
We need help because we grieve, we have guilt, we are angry at times, we are more likely to experience depression or anxiety. Our lives can be an emotional roller coaster.
Have I changed your judgement yet?
As a parent of a special needs child, I am a nurse, I am a coach, I am a therapist, I am a teacher, I am a case manager, I am an advocate, I am a future planner.
Did that work?
How about this?
The divorce rate of parents with special needs kids is so much higher than any other group. Dads tend to walk out because they are in denial.
Siblings are at risk for getting bullied, suffering from depression, felling resentment and an overwhelming sense of responsibility.
Do you still have an opinion?
If you do, who cares.
Because actually it can be quite awesome. It has taught me to treat students with respect and dignity. It has taught me to have compassion for families. It has taught me that all children can and will learn. It has showed me how kind people in this world can be. It has opened my eyes. It has made me look at life a little more like I think Jesus would want me to.
Please open yours. Respect our complicated lives.
Please look at the smiles of these kids, these kids that won’t follow the stages of a normal life and know that her life is not as complicated to her as it is to us and she will never be as judgmental as uneducated members of society can be.
Stop judging. Stop having an opinion. Or if you still have one, stop sharing it. Until you walk in my shoes or the shoes of a mom with a special needs child, you cannot have an opinion. Every service that my child receives is because she deserves it. She deserves it more than you will ever know.
If you still don’t get it, I just pray you aren’t an educator. A desk job may be better for you. Oh but please, don’t let that desk job be in any of the offices that fight for our kids.