These days, I've been listening to The Current on CBC. I love listening to radio whenever I can - whether it's CBC or NPR, etc. Recently, The Current featured three episodes on the topic of students with special needs and Ontario's education systems. It's been fascinating, sad, challenging, and inspiring to hear parents and professionals share their stories. 

I think no one should have to do life alone.

I think we all ought to be able to belong to something - not to nothing. And those somethings ought to work together.

I think broken relationships lead to broken trust lead to broken systems lead to broken people.

“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.” Jean Vanier

 

Tonight, I've been thinking about the feedback and stories from the CBC program. And I think about those who live with or care for children with invisible disabilities.

I've been told that I have it easier with my kids being in wheelchairs, that the chairs and visible abnormalities validate them as being disabled.

I understand the heart behind that comment. It is exhausting for the parent to advocate over and over for their child who "appears normal" but is dealing with sensory overload, complex brain development due to trauma, ADHD, autism, twice gifted ... the list is long.

I wonder if one of the hardest parts is feeling the unspoken vibe from other parents that their child's behaviour is due to insufficient parenting, that they feel judged based on their child's "outbursts." I wonder if one of the hardest parts comes from having to explain over and over that their child's behaviour is often an adaptation related to the disability, not an intentional choice to disobey. 

So here's a poem for tonight's thoughts: 

 

My Front Row Seat

          Why didn't you warn me there was something very wrong with

           your son? - kindergarten teacher

In Dad's tie, hair slicked, you stand taller

than fear, take centre stage, shoulder to shoulder

with boys you can name and girls

you may or may not have noticed

yet - your eighth grade teacher gives you the thumbs up

and voices from our past pile up inside me

(the worst case ... not able ... no reason to believe

... locked room where he'll be safe),

but thin words can't fill my mind

like your eyes meeting mine: 

you wink and say

your first line

-Angeline Schellenberg

The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its more vulnerable members. M. Gandhi

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