Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Slap-tember! Turning the other cheek?

September has brought its school system down upon our heads again, and I'm betting I'm not the only parent of a kid with CP, or Autism, or Asperger's who is feeling the silence. We've had so many different types of clients this year. I'm feeling the need to apologize for being so focussed on cerebral palsy! It's what my son and I deal with, but wow; I can't even remember what some of our clients have been dealing with . . .corpus collosum?
It just goes to show that conductive education isn't "therapy," it's EDUCATION, and anyone with motivation and a healthy cheering section can learn in ways that will always surprise. I can't help but think about Annie Sullivan. Her name is forever synonymous with Helen Keller. Why? Neither one of them gave up. Helen was frustrated, Annie was persistent and the teacher never gave up on the child; never accepted that her work was finished because a good teacher is always an active student as well. Education is a pursuit, not a system. It's a game played for its own pleasure, for the discovery.
That's why a conductive classroom is built on that circle of ask, attempt, adjust, appreciate, and so on. . .it's a joy not only for the kids, but equally for the dedicated people who go through the process of expanding their envelope. Do you think Annie Sullivan wasn't practically beside herself with glee when Helen Keller hit her first epiphany? It's an amazing thing, and it shouldn't be a service that is sold at a high cost by some charitable organization. It should be a joyful chase through the everyday classrooms of "disabled" children; making them excited about each new day at school.
It's not like that, yet, in B.C. Imagine a kid running home excited about some new discovery, shoving open the door, and shouting, "Hey Mom! Guess what?" and hearing only silence! That's how a lot of us parents feel after six weeks of conductive education and we take our kids to school and say guess what?
There seems to be little guessing at schools. There are only assessments, and reports, and fear of insurance claims; fear of the raw potential of that child in the wheelchair. I can't even count the number of times I've asked my son's teachers to let him sit at a table with a bar on it for him to hold; their eyes glaze over when I make this request. Take him out of his __________? (insert piece of equipment here; it doesn't matter, each piece has enough straps and buckles to allow him to fall asleep in it.) They're not listening. They can't, and I don't know why.
Well, let me say as a Dad, my fear is that the wheelchair will swallow my son's ability to bear his weight forever. He can still stand and walk now, at age 10; only because a conductor cared enough to show me where his envelope was and how to walk along its edge; not tuck ourselves down inside and head for the lost letter office.
It's a lovely thing to help a child build their repertoire, and for a parent as well, to go on that journey of discovery with them. On the way, we learn more about ourselves.
Now more than ever it's important to not roll over and turn the other cheek; except perhaps to offer a Bronx cheer for those who think changing a diaper is about as good as it gets for our kids. Zsipp Zsupp!