Thursday, October 6, 2011

Taking Care of Business

Parents, teachers and administrators can all be effective advocates for students. Our ultimate goal, though, is for students to take charge of their own education, as we see here.
--Ric Dressen @EdinaSuper

“Lately all I see of William is what he can’t do. The work that is coming home from school is largely above his level. Orchestra is too hard. Reading is too hard. In Social Studies they are learning concepts like “cultural landscape.” In sixth grade. I don’t know how non-autistic kids are doing it. Yet I know they are.  

And he’s not.

Every day I am reminded more and more of how he’s not doing it. Until I see him only for what he isn’t and not for what he is. Only what he can’t do and not what he can.”

That is the beginning of a post I started a couple of weeks ago but didn’t finish because it was too depressing.  

This happens sometimes – I see William only for what he doesn’t seem capable of.  Which is a terrible way for his mother, being chief cheerleader and advocate, to feel. 

I lose the perspective of "person first" language. This is the concept where instead of an “autistic child,” you have a “child with autism.”

It seems a lens of worry and uncertainty clouds my vision during those times, only letting in the disability and not the abilities, even though I know deep down that there is more William can do than he can’t do. 

Then last week, when I was still feeling pretty low, William’s principal left me a message.  Of course, when I saw the caller ID from school I prepared myself for the worst, but instead I got to hear how my son was seen through her eyes:

“Mrs. Nisi, this is William’s principal. I just had to call you to let you know that William and I spoke today, and he is so very personable!  He made sure he knew who I was, and made sure I knew who he was.  I wanted to let you know this because I read your blog post about sending him here, and I just want you not to worry, and to know that William is taking care of business at this school!"

So, a different set of eyes, a different lens, and William became more than the autistic child having trouble keeping up. He became a child with autism who is taking care of business!
Laura Nisi

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