Saturday, January 30, 2010

We are the World

Every morning I wake up and think about what I am going to write today. Sometimes, I follow my plan, and than other times I get distracted by something I see on TV which leads me in another direction. That is what happened this morning. The early morning show was telling the story of the"We are the World" remake and how that song, 25 years ago changed the world and, how that song changed "famous people" into becoming more activists, and these "famous people" and many more, are still activists to this day. So from that news blurb, I thought of how Peter, about 25 year ago, was one of the first students in the school district to be included in the classroom. If you are wondering how I made that analogy, it is one of those free thinking, loose connections moments. Ever had one?
Back to the story. Previous to inclusion, children with a special need were not allowed in a regular classroom, but rather were sent off to some special school, not mixed with the normal or average child, and really kept out of the public eye. If you think back to your own schooling, I know I never saw any child with special needs, as if they did not exist. And the one or two that were allowed in, were treated as a burden...a person who was dragging the class down.
So, thank you God for inclusion...remember the window that gets open just when you need it. Since the beginning of his schooling which included Early Childhood, Peter was always in a "regular" classroom armed with an Educator Assistant, an Occupational Therapist, a Physical Therapist, a Speech Therapist, a Vision Therapist, and a very loving teacher. Together, they worked and prodded Peter to get him to speak, read, look, participate, whatever they could to make him progress. Peter, however, always looked like he could do it, just would not do it.....makes me again wonder what was going on in his head. Everything was a big effort to him and every milestone was a huge accomplishment. Every effort put in by those individuals have contributed to the Peter we all know and love. In turn, we felt part of a system, a good system that was working. So for me and Peter, inclusion, it may not be perfect...but I put it on my list of "Good Things".
Personally, I think the best part of inclusion is not just meeting Peter's needs, but it is the other kids who are now growing up with the special kids as part of their educational experience. In the younger generation I see a much better understanding of kid's with special needs and also the acceptance, yes, less prejudice, patience that life is not perfect. Often during Peter's school years, some kind, caring parent would include Peter in a birthday party or even invite him over for an afternoon. Those were the really special parents of children in that classroom. And those really special parents always made me feel a joy that went so deep into my heart, it really is hard to describe. Think about the recent cheering of those special kids that get to play one night on a real basketball team. Think about the absolute exhilaration on the face of the parents. How cool is that? Every time I see that, the tears stream down my face. So exciting!! Inclusion....a window filled with opportunity and love for us.

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