What are your greatest strengths? How about your weaknesses? Often we only think of these questions when we’re preparing for an interview then quickly forget about the bull shit answer we gave once we get the job.
But what about our kids? What is their greatest strength? What are their “stretches”? (not allowed to tell kids they have weaknesses anymore ) Have you ever spent any amount of time thinking about this or talking with them about this?
Today was Individual Education Plan (IEP) day for me. Not one… not two… but three separate meetings with my child’s primary teacher, the school’s resource teacher, vice principal, occupational therapist, speech language pathologist and I think the janitor and cafeteria lady sat in too.
It kills me every time I have to fill out that 100 question sensory profile exposing every single deficiency my children have. With Madison’s I have to make sure I have an extra layer of emotional armor on before I begin as she barely registers on the test!
But then we start the discussion. What does your child like? How do they respond? How do they learn best? And on and on for an hour!
Eventually we land on the reason I am there in the first place. What are my goals for my child? To which I want to scream out, “To be normal or typical like everyone else!” Can that be our goal?!?
But I know full well by now that’s not realistic. Besides, those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it. So, I remind myself that I tell my kids, “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never realize how amazing you can be”.
That being said, this year Liam is going to learn how to advocate for himself. He is going to ask for help and support in problem solving. He’s also going to develop the ability to become a more flexible thinker and he’s going to become brave enough to take some risks and try some new things.
I created four “pillars” for Madison’s IEP. Communication, Mobility, Eating and Social Awareness. Throughout her year, we are anticipating she will expand her eye gaze communication. I want her to take more assisted steps and maybe even one or two UN-assisted. Then, with food being a strong motivator for her, I’m already getting excited for the day this year when she eats a cookie by herself. Finally, I want her to learn that there is a wonderful world beyond her dysfunctional body… and becoming a part of that world can enhance her own existence.
Then there’s Ethan who is going to continue becoming in tune with his body and learning how to regulate it. He is also going to learn how to play WITH his friends, and not just beside them. Finally, we will continue to expose him to as many foods as possible with the goal of him eating some of it eventually.
At the end of the day, the only real limitation on your abilities is the level of your desire. I hope this year my kids will realize this.