Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Don't Say He Can't Do It

 Sometimes it's a leap of faith to send your child to public schools--especially if you have a child with special needs. Will a large public school be able to meet every individual child's needs? Read more about one family's search for the right school for their child here; read about their decision for next year below.

Don't say he can't do it! This was my reaction to one of William’s siblings when they expressed the idea that William would never be able to slalom water ski, and therefore shouldn’t try. I know why they said it, they were worried he’d fail. How he’d feel. How we’d feel. Sometimes it’s easier not to try.  But the advocate in me spoke up. I’d like to say I knew that William would be able to do it, but I didn’t.  It just felt unfair to not let him try something any typical child could attempt. What’s the harm in trying? If he’s not meant to slalom ski, he can keep skiing with two skis. Or just go tubing.  

Of course, he showed us. He did it. He tried every time we were at the lake this summer. He didn’t get discouraged. He didn’t doubt himself. And he did it.  He did it his way, by “dropping a ski” instead of being pulled up on one. Once he got it, he did three laps around the lake, until we cut the engine so he could stop and rest. Then three laps again later that afternoon. And again that evening. And the grin on his face could have cleared a cloudy sky.

This story illustrates why we have decided William will attend public middle school in Edina this fall, instead of the small private school for kids with disabilities we were considering. Simply put, that’s what he wants.  Desperately wants. So much so that he said “Please, Mom, I’m begging you, let me try South View!”

What would I possibly say to that? “You can’t try it?” “You’re too disabled?” “You won’t be able to do it?” No, I can’t say that.  

We’ll try it. If it doesn’t work, we’ll go back to two skis.

And we’ll remember to wear a life jacket.
Laura Nisi

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