Last week I was bragging about how great I was doing. This week I have slowed way, way down. How can a mother with a kindergarten kid help it after last Friday. I sent a note to D’s teacher, and I hope you sent one to yours. Frightening for mommies, but frightening for teachers too.
Last night I went to PTA meeting with our state legislators. Our school district is represented by three. I came away feeling renewed respect for two and sorry that the one is not in my voting district so I can vote him out. I’m sure he is . . . I can’t think of anything nice to say at this moment so I won’t say anything at all. It looked like he had a nice warm sweater on. There.
Anyway I thought the meeting was supposed to be parents talking about the effects that budget cuts have made on our families. As it turned out, I was the only one prepared to testify in that way. Thank goodness I wrote out what I wanted to say because as you know I get tired and can babble a little bit after the supper hour.
Here’s part of what I said:
I have two boys in the our school system. My son Colin is an 8th grader who deals with autism spectrum issues. My husband Brent and I have been profoundly grateful for the care and service he has received through our special education department. By and large everyone Colin has worked with has understood that Colin is an intelligent young man who cannot learn the way most other kids learn. With 1 in 88 kids identified as being autism spectrum, it is essential that our staff know and be able to educate others about autism.
Last spring Brent and I forced Colin to join the junior high track team. This was really outside his comfort zone, but we thought it would be a good opportunity for Colin to practice being a part of a team while being responsible for his individual results. He wasn’t the fastest kid on the team, but he did it. Colin amazed us all spring. Not only did he do his best on the track team, he kept up his school work, his religious studies and his music practice. He was more alert and brave all around. We set our sights on having him join the cross country team this fall, but as you know cross country had to be cut this summer . . .
. . . If the goal of our public school system is to produce adults who are good citizens, good critical thinkers and a capable workforce, we have to allow our kids to interact in a variety of ways outside the classroom. Even though we have an excellent football team, not every kid is cut out for that. All of our kids need opportunities to explore their interests in other sports, music, arts and drama. We have to round out the educational opportunities for everyone.
At the end of my little speech I wondered if I had sold Colin out. “Look at my poor autistic son and feel pity!!” That is never, never my goal. How do I have him treated like everyone else and yet alert those who have the power to make change that change needs to happen.
Look at this face. Is this the face of a kid who needs pity?
Well maybe a little. It would seem his mother has a history of tickling to get a genuine smile out of him.