Category Archives: Our Land

TBT JUMP!

It’s Thursday so it’s a throw-back day. This post was originally published on 19-APR-2013 as part of the 5-minute series. Where you are given a word and just write, unedited, for five minutes straight.



The prompt: JUMP


Ready, set, go

Dear the Fellow that I fired, remember when you told me that Boo would never walk, talk, know us. She was six-months old. You told her father and I that she had a brain disorder which meant her brain pattern was ‘too slow’. 

I went home and cried. Then I call your boss. You know the head of Neurology. Who told me you had no right, no freaking right to tell me that my daughter might do or not do anything. She has an unknown genetic disorder NEVER SEEN before. That very rarely do you take MRI’s of 6-month old brains. Exactly what would he have compared to Boo too? 

So he told me you were off our case. We got transferred to another Fellow. An awesome doctor who believes in our daughter.

Four years later, after 9 months of therapy Boo jumped. Yes, you freaking jerk, my daughter not only laughs, signs and talks, knows her sister, her father, myself and HER FRIENDS. My daughter also walks and loves her puppy!

Boo not only loving but kissing her puppy!

And this week not only did she jump, she jumped over a line.

What you took for granted in your knowledge of all things is that you knew nothing of my daughter’s strength, joy, heart and determination. You did not know that she has a circle of people who make her more than you ever gave her credit for.

Boo jumped. And I hate that for a minute you made me think she wouldn’t.

Damn you, you made me doubt my daughter. Just once, at 6m of age. After I talked to your boss, I never did again.

Boo jumped.

END

Darn it I am out of time! I had so much more to say on this subject. Obviously I have some unresolved anger at that Fellow. But I am also thankful for the Fellow his boss assigned Boo’s care, who is now an MD. This wonderful doctor who saw the potential in Boo and never told me to give up!

TBT–Dear Ann

It’s Throw-back Thursday. A day to revisit an older blog post. This one is from when I a was a tad, um, infuriated with a celebrity.



Originally posted 23-OCT-2012

Dear Ann,

May I call you Ann? I feel we can be informal since you feel so comfortable insulting my child. I mean, really, only family should be able to make us think that we are not good enough. On the other hand….

You, MS. COULTER, are not my family. You are not of my world, my life, my heart.

Because you, Ms. Coulter, from your bully pulpit are comfortable enough behind the camera. But have you ever had to face the affect of your insults and disparaging remarks? When you attack public figures, I usually give you some leeway. After all, they are grown-ups who have had to develop a thick skin in order to navigate life in the public eye.

But my child? My child, Ms. Coulter, does not and should not ever be the brunt of your pitiful attacks. Neither has her sister. A sister who knows that calling some one a retard is wrong but not why. You, Ms. Coulter, do not have to explain to your 9-year old that her sister is not retarded but intellectually disabled.

You see, Ms. Coulter, in your complete and utter ignorance, do not realize that when you call our President a retard (which by the way, should be treasonous no matter what your political leanings) you are not insulting him. You are, in fact, insulting the estimated 2.5 million US citizens you do not even acknowledge.

That is the sad truth, isn’t it Ms. Coulter? You do not SEE those who are intellectually disabled. You only see your own agenda and how to get your name in the headlines. Doing it by insulting my daughter and others like her, that is heinous.   

I know the arguments for using the word retard. I have this discussion with friends and family members. I am from the generation where you could call some one “gay” but not mean homosexual. I am from the generation where retard was an insult you called your friends in a lighthearted manner.

But, unlike you, Ms. Coulter, I grew up. And unlike you, I am lucky to have an intellectually disabled child who only knows love. But some day, unfortunately she and her sister will come into contact with some one like you. I fear that day. I fear the day when some one looks at my daughter and sees a RETARD and not a beautiful girl. 

I ask you, Ms. Coulter to look at this face:



and tell her sister that her beloved sister is retard. Because that is what you did when you thought you were insulting the President of the United States of America. 

From a mom who knows better,
Kerri

Sorry I don’t have a process.

My first ever for-real blogging friend Kristi recently tagged me in a post for me to explain my writing process. I thought it was cool she thought I had one. Kristi is not even in the same stratosphere that I am in when it comes to the blogging world. But she pretends even though she started blogging three months after me and then became wicked famous we are on the same planet.


Kristi is the mom of Tucker, a quirky artist, the founder of Our Land (which I get credit for telling her to go for it) and the person most likely to be sitting next to you in jail after a Billy Idol concert. 

Okay here are the questions I am supposed to answer. 

1. What am I working on? Well I was working on trying to do the Twisted Mix Tapes correctly for my friend Jen Kehl. But then she got retired the series. I hope it wasn’t my fault. It was either that I messed them up for finally got them right. Either way I have some Catholic Guilt going on about the end of the series.

Seriously though, I am working on making the What’s Your Challenge series a phenomenon online and in real life. I love that people are being so open with how we are all so freaking similar in our struggles. That all of us have a challenge (or two). But that our Challenge doesn’t define who we are deep inside. I hope it makes someone stop for just a moment and instead of assuming or judging they stop and say, “how can I help”.

2. How does my work differ from others of it’s genre? Truthfully it doesn’t. I think all bloggers share a commonality. We blog about families, for example. Even blogs dedicated to special needs have a common focus. For my blog I think it is a mix. I try to educate via the Challenge. I try to show that there is both heartbreak and joy in parenting Boo. I didn’t start my blog to share about Abby. But she is just too hysterical not to share. I also try to show that you can survive anything with a little bit of humor.

Most importantly I try to use my blog to show that you are never alone. You just have to find your village. Through this process my village has grown to be a small town of support. 

So I think my work differs because it isn’t about one thing. My blog doesn’t fit a niche. Instead I just share the everyday moments that make up our life with Boo. 

3. Why do I write what I do? I can’t help myself. That is the honest answer. David always says I have no filter. That carries over to my writing. I feel like I have to write. To show people that Boo is not just a child with special needs. That Abby is not just the perfect big sister but that she also comes by her sense of being sarcasm naturally. 

But more, that it is okay to break now and again. That it is okay to say this sucks sometimes. That when your child goes five years without a diagnosis and then some doctor says they think she is autistic it is okay to flounder. I believe so many warrior moms think they always have to be strong. I write to show them yes be strong, but also break and lean on others. 

I also write because David and the girls give me so much material. I mean really, how many moms can write about the time their husband who swore the math problem was a trick question? 

4. How does your writing process work? Okay, still cracking up that Kristi thinks I have a process. 

I seriously do not have one. There are just moments that resonate that I have to share. If the post is controversial I will usually send it to Kristi with a “should I” or “would you” hit publish? If it is a post I think will make my mom cry I send it to Tia first with the same question. 

I do not do a lot of editing. What you read is exactly how a conversation would go if we met in public. I want my blog to be authentic. To be me. If you saw me in the supermarket we could begin a conversation without awkwardness. There are some posts that I write in my head first. Then I get in front of the keyboard and BAM. It’s either great or not.

****

And now it is time for me to give a shout out and tag my fellow bloggers to ask them about their process. I’m totally cheating and stealing Kristi’s questions. 

First up is my friend K from Transcending CP. K is beyond awesome. She is one of the reasons I started the Challenge program at Abby’s school. K is a college student who enjoys fried clams and making my heart grow ten times to big by reading her blog. If you ever feel that life might be unfair but it something worth living this is the one blog you should read.  

Next up is Kate from Another Clean Slate. One day I asked Kate to run a Mullet race. She ran but refused the mullet. Funny thing is she still talks to me! Kate is like me. Kind of an open book, which we both love to read. She is a super cool urban professional and writes about everything life is: wine, books, food and fun.

Last up at bat because they are hitting a home run is my boyo Isaiah at Isaiah Dot Com only because I have to know how he comes up with the way that makes his mom reply there is no maggot season. I cannot wait to see how he replies to some of the questions. He can think of it as summer homeschooling for kids of bloggers.

*******

And that is is. That is my writing process which means there isn’t one. With a few tags in the mix to keep the game going. Thanks, Kristi for being my go-to girl. 


Why I’m not mad at Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton is facing a lot of criticism over her memoir, Unbreak My Heart. According to E-online, Ms. Braxton writes that she believed her son’s autism was “God’s payback” for having an abortion.  While many are understandably upset about Ms. Braxton’s provoking statement, I think what is being missed in the outcry is she states in her book she BELIEVED. With a “D“. 

What parent of a child with special needs has not had that thought? That our child’s disability was because something we did? That you might be being punished for something? That you did something wrong? Did you have a cocktail before you knew you were pregnant? Did you scuba dive? Were you a bad person? You and your spouse fought. You cried when you found out you were pregnant.
When Boo was first in the NICU I wracked my brain trying to come up with some reason why. Every time some new worry arises with her I wonder why she suffers. I still am searching to the ends of Google to find an answer. I have blamed myself for not wanting a second child. I blamed myself for knowing that I probably had a glass (or two) of wine before I knew I pregnant. I blamed David, thinking surely something he must have come into contact with at work did this. This thing that no one could explain to us.

If not one parent has ever had that thought, I call bullshit. Yup, I just swore at you. Because it is impossible for me to believe that when told your child had XQZ you handed out cigars and said how proud you were that your child may have to struggle more than others. That not once did you second guess yourself, your doctor, your medical history or your God.  It is easy to blame God for a lot of things. He very rarely comes to the witness stand. He is kind of busy.
Photo Credit: Finding Ninee


He is blamed for war, for famine, why not question him for your child’s disability or illness? Or your own. I imagine there are many cancer warriors who wonder why they got sick. What did they do or not do?


In Ms. Braxton’s memoir she is recounting her feelings. What she went through as a parent of a newly diagnosed child. I do not agree with everything she states in her book. But am I outraged that she once thought God was punishing her for a decision she made? That she went there and bared her feelings? We might write in our diary, our blog, our book about our feelings and fears. We cry to our friends, our partners and our moms. We go through a period of grief of the child that might have been. That is natural. Am I sometimes fearful that one day Abby or Bridget might read a post I have written and be hurt by it? Of course! But I am also aware that my love for them will overshadow any fears or thoughts I have had, they will read the whole post/entry and not take a line or two out of context.
Did Toni Braxton set autism awareness back a decade with her memoir? Nope. Not buying it. Only if the crazies out there start using it as an anti-abortion statement. I can see it now, don’t have an abortion your next child will be punished. Let’s face it, there are idiots out there who use whatever sound bite possible to defend their position. Even if there is a thousand reams of information to back up the opposite position. Of course I wish she spent more time talking about how wonderful her son is, how proud she is, how she realizes that autism (or any disability) isn’t a punishment. That life with a child with special needs is a life-altering journey. 

But it’s not my memoir. 

Most parents would never, ever, tell her child that she wondered why her child was born with a disability. We tell them that they were born perfect. There is nothing “wrong” with them. We lobby for inclusion. We shout from the rooftops our advocacy. 

We believe deep in our hearts that our child is perfect, beautiful, amazing and we are astounded by their will.

But at one moment in time, each and every one of us wondered why “it” happened. Then our hearts grew ten times too large and we stopped wondering and began living. 

At least I’m honest enough to admit it.



Special thanks and a shout out to my friend Kristi at Finding Ninee who drew God on the Witness Stand with three hours notice, never asking why I needed it! And to Tia who pre-read this post and encouraged me to post it knowing others may disagree.


Mom in the elevator

Dear Mom in the Elevator,

I’m sorry. I apologize for leaving so quickly. I saw you and your husband in the elevator at Children’s. You were wearing the badge of the NICU. You had hit the elevator for the respite floor. You looked so spent. So wiped. So scared.

As I left with Boo for her cardiology appointment I turned and said, It gets easier.

Then I left.

I’m sorry. I should have said something sooner. I should explained that it gets easier but not better. That today you are worried about your newborn and tomorrow you will be worried about you toddler.

But I swear it gets easier. You will be hit in the gut many times over the next few years decades. Right now, believe it or not, is the easiest time of your life with a sick newborn. You have the support of awesome nurses and physicians who allow you to nap, to eat, to cry and to ask questions. 

Soon, hopefully, you will be discharged. You will be scared. No, you will be terrified. As much as you looked forward to the moment of taking your baby home you are scared to your core. Because at this moment you realize you are parenting without a net. You are taking a child home that just 8 hours earlier was on a cardiac (or other) monitor. The doctors and nurses assure you that they are healthy enough to go home. As much as you (and everyone you know) prayed for this moment in time you are terrified that you are not ready.

But you are. There are just somethings you have to do to make sure you and your child stay whole.

You need to create a village. That friend that says call me, what can I do, I’m here for you. Hold them to it. Call them and say HELP ME I’M SCARED. More scared than you ever imagined. Unless you have been in the NICU you cannot describe the level of terror. They won’t get it, but they will hurt for you. They will be there for you. But only if you let them.

But I get it. I understand the moment you thought your child was going to die. The moment when you realized they would live. The moment you were told they were coming home.

It scared the crap out of me. I mean, like almost threw up I was so scared.

There will be moments in the future when you will worry, when you will cry, when you will say this is not what I signed up for…but they pale in comparison to the moment.

The moment when you go from being a parent in the NICU to a parent without a net.

Here is what you need:

  • Your partner. You are in this together. Remember that and hold them to it.
  • Your best friend. They promised to be there forever. Hold them to it.
  • Your mom. She loves you, no matter what. She might not understand what you are going through, but let her be there.
  • Your pediatrician. If you do not have one that is willing to be answer your call at 2AM find a new one. Their job is to be there for you and your child. Hold them to it.
  • Your friends. Here’s the thing. They want to be there for you. But they don’t know how. They are afraid to call and bother you, they don’t want to burden you, they are ashamed that they complain about their child talking nonstop when yours is nonverbal, they don’t know how they can help. So tell them. Tell them what you need. Be it a pizza delivered, a bathroom cleaned, a shoulder to break on or a text fest where you just spew. But let them be there. Don’t hide what you are going through because then they cannot help. You need them, it’s your job to let them know it.

Lastly, and this is the most important, listen to your inner warrior mom. You know your child better than any doctor, nurse or provider. If they smell funny to you then something is going on. I once had a nurse tell me that mother’s instinct trumps doctors order any day of the week. Remember that. 

When you gave birth to a child with a medical issue and/or special need, you didn’t just become a mom (sorry to tell you). You became a warrior mom. One who advocates, medicates, does therapy, uses Google to the ends of the research and who loves their child beyond all measure.

It does get easier. Not better, but easier. The caveat to being easier is to have your village. Go find them. Embrace them. Lean on them. I should have done it earlier. I am one of the lucky ones. My village found me. 

Dear Mom in the elevator, you are not alone. You are scared. You are terrified. You feel overwhelmed and heartsick. But you are not alone. Create your village. Embrace them. That is what makes the NICU experience bearable. I remember just 5 years ago keeping people away. I missed out on the support I needed. It took years for me to get it. That my village was there waiting to be tapped. Once I understood this journey became easier.

Not better, but easier. 

Don’t make that mistake, Dear Mom In the Elevator. Let your support system be there for you now and forever.

Love,
A parent who has been there and has the t-shirt.

A parent that is there for you, if you need.

A mom who wishes she spoke up sooner. That she said HELP. That she allowed those who love her and her child to help them.


PS–I had a different post almost ready for this Finish This Sentence Friday, Dear Mom…but then the elevator happened.

Holy crap I’m a cohost and really hope I didn’t screw this up 🙂 Please link up below!

What happens…

What happens when you begin to lose faith? In perspective we haven’t been on this journey long. Five years is nothing when compared to other children’s battles. Having a child undiagnosed with unexplained ailments compared being a parent whose child is fighting a life threatening illness is insignificant in comparison.
I apologize to all who read the Dr. House post and the Poor Me post. I promise I am not just regurgitating, or wallowing. I was just hit, yet again, by the bat that is a doctor who passed the buck.

I feel foolish and selfish for even getting upset. Let alone discussing losing faith. I try to keep this blog upbeat and fresh. I hate wallowing, repeating myself.  But I am struggling. I am second guessing myself. I am wondering if I am the mom who cried wolf.

Why am I upset if not one of the five doctors I have contacted do not think it is significant or alarming that Boo is having swelling in her arms, hands, feet and legs? 

So what do I do when I begin to lose faith? I get pissed. Seriously pissed. In all honesty I also had a healthy cry, a text-fest with Tia and a glass of wine. Maybe two.

But I got pissed and I decided that it’s not okay. I’m okay with Boo being undiagnosed but I am no longer okay with cardiology telling me to call rheumatology who tells me to call the cardiology who tell us to have our Pedi order a test. 


Which she does and then that test is cancelled by radiology who doesn’t think it is necessary.

Because really, why should we investigate why a child is having intermittent swelling in their extremities for no reason? 

So I got pissed. I did some more research (cause I have spare time) and found another specialist to contact. I am making cardiology see her next week and not leaving until he refers us some where. Any where.

I have reached out to two different “Dr. House” type doctors that are not local but I don’t care. I have e-mailed yet another doctor whose blog I read to ask for a recommendation. I found through my own searching of Children’s Hospital a center that deals with disorders of the vascular system. 

I am not giving up. I am not crying wolf. I am not waving the white flag.

Some day. Some how. My child will have a doctor look at her as a whole child and not say call another doctor who will then cancel a test.

Just because her various ailments are not deadly doesn’t make them any less significant. They just make it easy to put into perspective. I know what Boo is experiencing isn’t life threatening. But it is impacting her life. 

And that’s enough for me to get my big girl pants on.

Some people lose faith and curl up in a ball. There is nothing wrong with regrouping. Me? 

I get pissed.

Thank you to everyone who reached out last week. Who gave me ideas, support and were just there being my village. I am using all of the tools you give me to stop wallowing and instead remembering the warrior mom creed:


You will not dismiss my child. She is too important.


Okay, if it’s not our creed it should be.

No interest

I have no interest in being a person who wallows. I do not want to be a blog that focuses on one theme. I think of this blog as my therapy. If I am lucky it is your therapy too because you realize you are not alone.

Whether your child is healthy and ornery like Abby or challenging like Boo or your house has a crazy puppy who is equal parts loving and destroying your house. I want all to feel welcome and to feel a connection.
Then there are days like today. The day that started out promising, too rainy to run. Waking up early to realize that the morning goes smoothly without incident. You knew it was too good to last.

It started innocently enough. With your daughter telling you that her pants had a whole in the, well, crotch yesterday. A boy on the bus noticed and it ended up into a discussion about who had an elephant trunk and who was flat.

Yeah. I went there. 

You tell the boys mom. Because you want to make sure that 1. she knows your child typically does not go into school with a hole in her crotch (unless she is Kristi) and 2. that you made sure there was no inappropriate show & tell on the bus that would get either kid suspended from elementary school. The other mom kind of reacted differently than you, had ‘the talk’ with her child. You felt bad because you saw and admitted to the inappropriate humor to the situation. The fact that Kristi saw the humor and said HEY RIGHT A BLOG POST ABOUT IT made you feel better.

You think that is the most you would have to deal with in a day. You think hey I handled this maturely. I answered my daughter’s questions in a way that she understood and didn’t feel embarrassed about. I promised not to tell her dad. Thank GOD he doesn’t read the blog since I never promised her I wouldn’t tell the world. 

Then the other shoe drops. Boo happens. She has a meltdown at school and at home. Abby tries to compensate by being the good girl. She tries to placate Boo but I stop her because I do not want to reward Boo’s behavior.

I realize that I am wallowing. I am stuck in this mantra that Boo is sucking the life out of us. That as awesome as she is, she is draining.  That I suck at this. That I cannot stop wondering where Spring is. When life will get easier.

When Boo will not demand so much energy (probably not going to happen). That I will not have to demand a doctor pay attention.

That I will not think life would be easier with the Abby issues.

I never intended to resent Boo. But sometimes I do.  Sometimes I suck at this whole “special” parenting thing.

Something else I never expected to do. I never had an interest in being a parent, let alone a parent of a child with challenges. Sometimes it is great. Sometimes it sucks. Most times it is not the life I intended.

But it is my life and I am doing the best I can, even when it seems I’m not.

Finish the Sentence Friday

Decisions not made

The best decision I ever made was one I never would have, if given the choice. People make choices all the time. Those decisions have unknown consequences and unknown victories.
Had I been told while pregnant that Boo would be admitted to the NICU on her fourth day of life, that we would be told her brain was not developed and she would never walk, talk, jump, love or progress. That five years later she would still be proving to be a medical enigma, I may have made a difficult decision. I would have thought I was making the best choice for myself and my family.

I would have been wrong. So wrong. 

Doctors don’t know everything, testing is not always 100% accurate. The doctors for boo were well-intentioned, but they were wrong. Yes, Boo hasn’t had a tranquil childhood. I have had fears that she wouldn’t survive. Fears that she would never have a life like Abby’s. I worried, lost sleep, became a master at using Google to find remedies, treatments and novel ideas. I became a warrior mom, an activist an optimist.


I broke and continue to break.

Every time I break I think of that Fellow who didn’t believe in her. That did not understand the absolute power of a warrior parent. I remember that moment and am thankful for those broken moments as they make me appreciate how unbroken Boo really is. Being unbroken means there are a lot of decisions to make.

The decision to bring her home from the hospital and not let them define her.

The decision to send her to a daycare that loved her, that transitioned to a school that adores and supports her.


The decision to allow surgery (or not).

The decision to provide intensive therapies when we were told they were too much for her.


The decision to let Boo defy expectations, not once or twice.

There are a lot of decisions I make with Boo. Some large, some small, but all must be thought out, researched and agonized over. Yet there is one decision I never had to make and am so thankful the choice wasn’t offered.


I realize that best decision I ever made was one I didn’t have to make. 




Finish the Sentence Friday

3/21 World Down Syndrome Day

Today is World Down Syndrome Day, celebrated by showing the ability. Although Bridget doesn’t have Down Syndrome one of her best buddies does. Honestly a part of me feels silly writing today, like I am jumping on the advocacy wagon for a syndrome my own child doesn’t even have.

But today is important. Today you must see the ability. You must acknowledge that all children make an impact, those with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, multiple sclerosis and those children who are sadly typical without that something extra (pun intended). 

You must acknowledge, today and every day, that children are different. That adults are different. That if we were all the same the “r” word wouldn’t hurt. That advocacy means you stand up and speak up to support those who need acceptance and tolerance. When you see the world through your child’s eye you do not see race, gender, body-size or disability. They see their friend. 

World Down Syndrome Day is centered on choosing to see a child through their ability and not their disability. Children should be celebrated. Children should be encouraged to live life to their potential. Your child comes with unlimited possibilities and not one instruction manual.

Boo and her friends shouldn’t be pitied. They and their parents are not heroes. They live life to the fullest. Their milestones are celebrated a little more because they have worked hard to achieve the smallest step. Just like your child a person with special needs has determination, stubbornness, laughter and love. They go to school, join Girl and Boy Scouts, play sports and have friends.

They also have something a little extra: sometimes an extra chromosome or an undiagnosed syndrome. But life would be pretty boring if the only ice cream we had to eat was vanilla. People shouldn’t be the same. We should celebrate our differences and our abilities.

Take today 3/21 and celebrate those with something extra. Like jimmies. 


For more information regarding Down Syndrome:
Heartbeats for Down Syndrome
Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress http://www.mdsc.org/
National Down Syndrome Society 
http://www.ndss.org/Down-Syndrome/
World Down Syndrome Day 
http://www.worlddownsyndromeday.org/

A few friends of mine are participating in a “Day in the Life” stories from parents whose child has Down Syndrome. Please take a moment and check them out, they are kind of cool!

The Bates Motel
Big Blueberry Eyes

Will my child cause your favorite teacher to be laid off?

Last week there was an article in our local paper titled, “Special Education costs blamed for (school) layoffs“. Lucky for Boo this is not her school we are talking about. However it struck a chord. Why must we pit one against another?

Our town is small. We do not have many businesses therefore the tax burden rests on the property owners. Frequently we see battles pitting the school department against the municipal side of the budget. This is the first time, to my recollection that we are putting students (and their needs) against one another.

I am extraordinarily grateful that this article was not about our town. Yet I live with a fear that it will be soon and we should explore ways to avoid it at all costs.  


Probably because this is the first time I have had a child in the “special education” cohort of the school system.

Which is not quite true. My older daughter goes three mornings a week for extra help in math. She has gone to summer school for math assistance. This is the only subject she struggles in and the school (and tax payers) have supported her needs. I am sure it is for the care they show all students and also to increase the MCAS standing of the school. A quid pro quo, if you will.

Boo on the other hand is a different situation. Boo brings tremendous value to her classroom. Her classmates will grow to be more empathetic, understanding of another’s needs and more accepting of their peers. Inclusion means that while Boo is exposed to peers for advancement while she advances their sense of community. 

But she is a drain on the school system. Boo receives physical, occupational and speech therapy from the school system (which in my opinion should be the responsibility of our insurance company to pay). She has a dedicated 1:1 therapist that is with her during the school day. This is for Boo’s safety (she wanders) and to make sure she can participate in class activities. That is, after all, the purpose of inclusion: to have Boo participate. Without the aide she simply cannot. 

Due to the layoffs, that other school system has modified some 1:1 care. Now a therapist will have 2 (or more) children under their responsibility. Let me explain why that is an impossible task to give that staff member. Logistically it is difficult. If you take your two children to the playground you know they will not leave. If a therapist takes Boo and her other charge, she cannot have Boo on the slide and the other child on the swing. How can she make sure both are safe? What if one has to use the bathroom? 

Education-wise it is still ill-advised. The therapist sits at a table with Boo and reviews counting. If she has another charge, how can the children and the therapist concentrate and make sure the program is run correctly and with consistency? Just as a teacher with 30 students in a class cannot make sure every child understands the Vietnam War, a special needs therapist cannot split their attention equally with more than one child and be confident they are getting the most out of the child. Having another child is a distraction for all.

But who should pay? That is really the question and you are probably not going to like my answer.

I believe the parent should pay for some of the care and education. It is our child and our responsibility. However we cannot. We simply do not have the money to pay. Just as the town budget is stretched a parent of a special needs child is under a financial burden unlike no other.  Our medical bills are higher, we pay out of pocket for supplemental insurance and at age 5 we are still purchasing diapers, wipes and pull-ups. Due to the amount of physician and therapy appointments we also cannot work 40 hour work-weeks. A family with a special needs child budgets in ways you never imagined. It is constricting and inventive.

Here is where I will again anger many. I also think that the tax payers should not have to pay for music, sports, clubs or electives. English, foreign language, history, math, science? Yes. That is education. But electives, including music and art, should be the responsibility of the parent to pay. Those electives are also a drain on the school system. There are pensions, salaries and healthcare costs associated with those staff members just as the special education staff. 

There are a lot more students taking electives than using the special education department. 

I am not sure of the answer. I do believe that we should pay a portion of Boo’s care. I firmly believe that our insurance company should have to pay for her therapies that happen in school, including her ABA therapies. I think some sliding scale should be in place to take some portion of the expense off the community.

However, if I am going to pay privately for Boo’s public education than I believe I should also have to pay for my older daughter’s music instruction.