Friday, June 7, 2019

End of the School Year: Mom Tears of Joy and We Got It Right!

Curious Cat Award for always being full of curiosity about the world.

In my history of parenting children with special needs for over two decades, the end of school usually means the end of meltdowns, the struggles of my children being misunderstood and the constant educating and fights for services and accommodations for their educations.  I looked forward for school  ending and having a blessed summer of no stress.  I could work on building back up their self esteems that were by the end of the school year bottomed out.

This year is different.   I do not want second grade to end.  I just put Mac on the bus to school for his last day.  His last day is met with this Mom's tears and sobbing.  This is surprising me.   Who would have ever thought that I hated for school to end?   I do not want this year to end.

Mac and Friends
Where do I begin to share just how amazing this school year has been for Mac.  Mac has fetal alcohol syndrome and was adopted from the foster care system here in our state.  They said he would never, this, never that.  Prematurity and at l7 months he was hanging onto life by a thread when he came to us.  As a veteran parent of medically complex children Mac entered our lives.  He would show us and teach us something every day.  My biggest fear for him was that school would not be able to  meet his complex needs and he would grow up lonely and friendless as I had seen happen to so many other children in school settings.

Mac and his friend who has been at his side since Kindergarten

This year I have seen a team and a school that believes in my child. They got it right. They got to see beyond the wheelchair, beyond the anxiety and beyond the lack of being able to talk to see and know my Mac. He has friends, he has teachers who accommodate him and find ways to access what he knows. I have seen a team of teachers, paraprofessional, therapists, office staff, and administration go out of their way to help us get it right for Mac and for other students. I have seen friends surround and understand him and fill in the gaps for him. They know he struggles to stand, they stand behind him and support him to be included with everything. They know they do not have to have him answer to be part of the conversation. They talk to him and often ask Furry for the answer. The children truly care for him and his team taught class is appropriately called the "The Second Grade Dream Team".

Mackie and friends 
Dreams did come true in that class this year.  The dream that children can learn, no matter the challenge.  The dream that everyone is included.  The dream that everyone will have a friend. The dream that he has teachers who care and love him.  A paraprofessional that knows him and his challenges and steps up everyday to help him soar and learn to the best of her ability. To the team that came together every month to share ideas, strategies to keep improving on the IEP and how to accommodate his complex needs.  To the special education director that saw a need and bought the stairlifts to plan for emergencies to get our children safely out of the building. The approved the Matt Connect magnification device so he could see the classroom and his materials.  His homebound teacher who teaches here every afternoon after him spending his morning in the school.  So much more, AT evaluations and the equipment,  even his special toileting chair for use at school, new curriculum with the ability to be able to be read for him and accommodate so many more students with meaningful learning. The special busing and everything it takes for Mac to shine. Thank you to the school district for doing what is needed and stretching and thinking out of the box for children like Mac.

Mac is shining and he has shown them that he can learn, he can think, he can be accommodated with this typical peers with giving him the tools and accommodations to reach those goals. Mac is determined and will measure up to the goals we set when we get it right.  We got it right and he has shown us that with his new curriculum that he has comprehension skills at the top of his class.
This is the same child who they only saw the disability,  not the ability not too long in the past. They saw the little boy in a wheelchair off to the side, flapping and flailing, non-verbal silently just existing.  The team saw him in our home, they saw who he could be and together we figured out how to help him shine and grow at school.  Thank you all for believing in Mac.

The Second Grade Dream Team
I sit here writing as tears fall. Everyone who knows me knows that this MOM has tears of happiness and for good things.  My PTSD from years of systems trauma, means that I have more HAPPY tears of HOPE and JOY and more determination to get it right this time.  Tears that Mac soared and he has what it takes for him to shine!

All it takes is a little help and accommodation
Today I write that Second grade will never be forgotten.  This is the year that I finally saw a school get it right. Yes we had bumps in the road, but those little bumps are normal and if we did not have those bumps, we wouldn't have been doing our jobs and stretching the schooling and experiences for Mac.   For the first time ever, I am sad for the end of the school year to come. But also celebrating that we got it right.  

Friends and true inclusion
We got it right! We did it for Mac and he soared. And a little stuffed penguin was part of the classroom and even a part of the yearbook because he was in the IEP.  Thinking out of the box and doing what it took for a young boy to learn and most of all be apart of the school and valued.

We would have never imagined Mac being able to go to school for a full day.  He has made the whole day the last Friday and today he will walk/roll out of the building with his friends after a whole day of end of the year celebration.  He will be there to say goodbye until next time to his friends and celebrate the last day of school.  He could have never done it without having the supports he needed to shine and thrive.  People believing in him and friends.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible.  And for going the extra mile to help Mackie make sure that his friends could make it to his Mackie's Movie Nights at our local movie theater.
This is a year of dreams come true, friendships, empowerment and memories that will last a lifetime.

And to you Mac you did it ! You taught us all more than we could ever teach you!
You Rock and we are so very, very proud of you.


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