Friday, November 18, 2011

A bush-wacking mama the midst of all my concerns for next year, I must admit, I am not completely overwhelmed. One of the reasons is that I am not beating down raw vegetation to carve down a path in a completely unknown land. There is a path...yes it is a little overgrown, yes the jungle of the unknown and potential problems is dark around me...but there is a path.

This week I met a lady who has been key in creating a path in this part of the jungle where I find myself. Her name is Glenda. Her son Daniel used to go to the same preprimary school where Matt is going next year. Daniel is a remarkable boy who made a deep impression on the staff and children of the school in his time. Daniel also has Down Syndrome. It was because of Glenda's impassioned appeal to the principal that Daniel was given a chance in join the school. It was because of Daniels personality and his mother's care that, not only the principal but one of his teachers, decided engage in further studies around how to include kids with special needs into their school.

So when I knocked on the school door earlier this year, and I saw the principals embracing heart towards Matt...I know that lady that I need to thank for creating this little pathway is Glenda.

Not only a bush-wacking mama who has carved out a place for her boy in a mainstream setting, but a woman of such sensitivity, courage and joy. She came to my house for a cup of tea, and what was initially planned to be a half an hour chat to meet up, turned into a nearly hour and half visit where we shared stories, laughter and tears. I now count her as one of my friends. Someone I can phone for advice or just to rant or to share a story of triumph.

Thank you God for Glenda and for others who have pioneered in the making this world a more embracing place for Matt.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meet a young lady with RTS

Follow this link to meet April and her sister Rachel who made the video.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Facing the next step...

This week we went to an open day/orientation day at the preprimary school where Matt is going to next year. I did not expect that my emotions would wrap around me so intensely, like a big, wooly winter jacket - slightly suffocating. I am still trying to process all the feelings - yes there was excitement, but there was mostly fear, uncertainty and trepidation. I love the play group where Matt is now, I know his teacher understands him, and genuinely desires to see him become all he can me. Though I know it is totally unrealistic, a part of me wishes that we could just stay there forever.

But with growth, comes change. And change is scary. There are many unknowns - how will Matt really cope in a classroom of 20 plus kids? Will Matt be lost, will he feel lost? Will he be encouraged to reach his full potential or will they expect less from him because he has a "special needs" label? Will the other kids accept him or not?
I guess it is really the great unknown...questions that can't be answered until we get there, that cause the most fear.

Let me focus on what I do know:
1. The principal as an open heart towards childern with special needs: I chose this school for Matt because the principal was so embracing of the idea of inclusion, and her questions about Matt showed such insight.
2. I met Matt's teacher-to-be, and she really does seem like someone that I can work with in helping Matt reach his potential.
3. The principal has assigned one of the teacher assistants to keep a special watch over Matt. I met her and she seems full of life and very excited to be working with Matt.
4. I do have friends, that I trust, who have had kids at the school and recommend it.
5. I know that Matt does enjoy learning and growing, though it is at his pace.

I need to keep these facts in the forefront of my mind. And when I look at them, I see so much in Matt's favour.

Yes I do still have doubts, I wonder if we are expecting too much for Matt by placing him in a main stream school. I wonder if I should have chosen a school that has smaller classes. I wonder...

But then again, sometimes, when I am busy wondering all these thoughts, I wonder if Matt just might do what he has consistently done up until now - surprise me by totally exceeding my expectations!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I've been published!!!! Very exciting. I was commissioned by a national magazine for parents to write about my experience of finding toys for my child who has special needs.

Follow this link to check it out.