September 1, 2014

On Labor Day, 2014

Today, at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:
I'm not usually one for writing contrived holiday-themed posts here ("It's Arbor Day, folks, and special needs families just love trees!"), but I think I'm going to make an exception for Labor Day. There are a lot of hard working people in this country, but those of us in the world of disability parenting find ourselves surrounded by the hardest working humans on the planet. For our kids, finding success in school and in the world is a lot like being an astronaut. We understand that the person standing on the moon is an extraordinary individual, and we celebrate that person's achievement. We do so, however, with the knowledge that it took a team to support those efforts and help that astronaut arrive.

August 25, 2014

To the people like her, which is perhaps everyone

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
When Schuyler looks at the future, she does so with her disability in mind, but not at the front of her thoughts. I envy her that. She's growing up quickly; today is her first day of high school, after all. We're having conversations identical to those happening in other houses around the world, about how it's appropriate for her to be thinking about boys she'd like to date, or girls she'd like to date, for that matter. ("Or both!" she said during our last conversation about dating; she's going to be trouble.) She asks me to teach her how to drive approximately every other day. When she breaks through her social anxiety, she laughs loudly and easily, and flirts without hesitation. Even a few months ago, I had my doubts about how she will navigate high school. She has those doubts, too, but she's working on them. And the thing is, only some of those doubts stem from her disability.

August 18, 2014

Unwanted monsters

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Schuyler understands her disability better now than she ever has before. I'm immeasurably proud of her for that. But every so often, when things are hard, she pushes back a little. She doesn't rage, she doesn't cry or fall into despair, all of which I imagine would be my own response if I were in her shoes. She simply goes on record as saying that she doesn't want it. She knows her monster doesn't require her permission to do its wicked work, but she denies it that permission anyway. I'm incredibly proud of her for that as well.

August 11, 2014

Deconstructing the Gentle Lie

This morning at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Beyond mythological figures, there's the gradually disintegrating gentle lie we tell our children, the one that says that if they work hard enough or want it bad enough, they can do anything they want in the world. For kids with special needs, I suppose it's not all that different. As parents, we overbelieve, and we sell that overbelief to our kids, and that's not a bad thing, I don't think. As they grow older, like Santa, they begin to see the flaws in our lie, and as they deconstruct it bit by bit, they begin to incrementally build a more pragmatic truth in its place. They sniff out the path that does await them, the one that is meaningful and possible. As their parents, we can help, but in the end, it's not our quest. It's theirs.

August 4, 2014

The High School Chapter, Page One

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Schuyler started her summer band camp this morning, so I guess this is sort of the unofficial beginning of her high school years. Two weeks of 7am-to-noon rehearsals, a week of evening practices, and then ninth grade classes begin for real. I remember my own high school days, of marching band practice beginning in August, under a hot West Texas sun. It sounds miserable, and it was. It was also kind of glorious. In a weird way, I envy her, although it must be said, I also predict I'll be back in bed by 7:30.

July 28, 2014

The World in a Room

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
The hard part comes in trying to help Schuyler decide what to give away and what to keep. We stay out of her way, even though honestly, she's not making a lot of progress. But it's up to her to decide, not so much what's appropriate to her age, because her age gives an incomplete picture of who she is and what's appropriate for her. No, for Schuyler, it's a process of deciding what is relevant to her now, to her life at this stage. When she starts high school in the coming weeks, I suspect her choices might change.

July 21, 2014

Eleven Years

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Mostly, though, the last eleven years have given me Schuyler. They've allowed me the time to let go of my selfish expectations of who I thought my daughter was going to be, and they've allowed me to adapt and appreciate and unconditionally love the weird and wonderful girl she is. It's the girl she is despite her condition, and because of it. And I'm the father I am because of the many mistakes I've made and the occasional things I've gotten right. None of us in this family are the people we were then. The past eleven years have been a crucible and a wonder. We all bear scars and the remnants of war paint, and we all shine a little brighter when called upon to do so.