April 28, 2007
Screw Holland, revisited
She is holding this week's spelling test. The words printed on the page are hers, from her device as she took the quiz.
Aside from a soccer ball sticker and a "Toadally Awesome!" stamp, it has no other markings on it.
That's because once again, she received a perfect score.
This is Schuyler. Two years ago, we were told that she was not intellectually capable of using this AAC device, the Big Box of Words; it was deemed, in the school district's final report before she actually acquired the device, to be "educationally unnecessary".
This is Schuyler. Two years ago, and also another two years before that, we were told that her future lay in general special education classes. We were informed that she was most likely suffering from some level of mental retardation and would likely remain in the care of special education until the day she was old enough to become Our Problem rather than Their Problem.
This is Schuyler. She is learning to use the BBoW on its highest setting, its most advanced vocabulary. She's already better at it than we are. She likes to show off on it and is already embracing the new vocabulary possibilities. Also, it has more dinosaurs.
There's a word that is forbidden in this home. It's a word that sounds very kind and nurturing, like something you might hear on Sesame Street, a word that spawned the Holland thing. We've been handed this word over and over again, and we reject it, completely. The word is a cage, plain and simple, and it's a cage we'd be putting Schuyler into if we embraced it.
We don't accept a thing, because Schuyler doesn't. She never wants comfort or pity or acceptance. She has things to say, and she wants to say them. She wants to live a life as close as she can to the ones you and I live, not as a "special little champ" or "perfect just the way she is" or whatfucking ever, but as a punky, funny, smart and troublemaking little girl. She is Chaos in Chuck Taylors. And if you get in her way, she'll knock you over, because she's lost enough time and she knows it. She's flawed, more than some but not so much as others, and she knows that, too, and she doesn't shed a tear about it. While I worry and get sad, she rolls up her sleeves and gets to work.
Acceptance wouldn't be for her. It would be for us, for our fears of failure. I can't speak for any other parents out there, of children who are broken or exceptional or shy or hyperactive or just plain weird or whatever. But for myself, I was blessed from the very beginning because while I had a great deal of fear, Schuyler had none. She has none today.
And she has no use for Holland, either.