Recently I heard from two different friends that Olivia was not being treated very nicely and/or fairly by someone that was working with her at school. The first time I heard that she was being left out when in the regular classroom, the second time I heard that she was being ignored when in the regular classroom and the final straw was something negative being said about Olivia in her presence. The last one made my blood boil. I wanted to go to the school the next morning and punch someone in the throat. My Mom might have beat me to it. To think that I’m sending my daughter to school, and someone who is supposed to be helping her and advocating for her is saying mean things about her IN FRONT OF HER, makes me want to hurt someone. It’s not that they said something negative, although that doesn’t help matters, but that they said it in front of her as if she can’t hear or understand them. That is what hurts the most.
Olivia doesn’t have the communication abilities to come home and tell me that someone who is supposed to be helping her is being mean to her. Or that someone said something mean about her appearance while she was standing right there. Or that they ignore her or don’t allow her to participate. She’s verbal…but that’s a whole different level of communication that she just doesn’t have. But there are other clues, trust me. Like not wanting to get off the bus in the morning, and covering her face and saying “I don’t want to talk about it” when I bring it up. So I wrote an email. And I got the person in trouble. Just like last year I got her bus aide in trouble and got her bus switched because, in my opinion, the aide was abusing my daughter daily. They know me by first name at the transportation department and at school.
And I like it that way.
Working in education, and being a parent of a child with special needs, can sometimes be a little tricky. Some teachers like to complain about the parents of kids with special needs. “They’re crazy! They’re constantly emailing me! They bring a lawyer to every meeting!” And, while it’s true there are some of us who are over the top, the rest of us are just doing whatever it takes to protect our special children. Our typical children can come home and tell us everything that happened in their day. Our kids with special needs can’t. Someone is changing her pull-up and taking her to the bathroom. Someone is changing her clothes if needed. Someone is taking care of her needs during the day. You better believe I will pull out all the stops if I think my daughter’s day is anything but wonderful and everyone’s behavior better be top-notch. She wouldn’t intentionally hurt anyone, she understands EVERYTHING that is said around her and she should be treated with the utmost respect.
Sometimes it’s really hard for me to stand up for myself or confront people. But not when it comes to my kids and especially not when it comes to Olivia. I’m THAT mom and I’m ok with that.
I would really love it if you would take 20 minutes (I know that’s a lot) to watch this video about courage. The courage it takes to be a parent of a child with special needs, but most importantly the courage each of our special children use every single day. (This video is made by my husband’s school district and was shown on opening day.)