Friday, September 09, 2011

We KNOW what we live.....

I have had this thought in the past, but it was made glaringly clear again today. I am a parent representative for our district on a special ed parent advisory committee (PAC). We are a small group of parents that meets at our county ISD monthly and have a parent meeting one night a year. We are the voice of parents to the school district which trickles down into the individual school districts. We are there for emotional support....for each other....and for other parents that may not be as far down the road from diagnosis as we are and/or may be dealing with the special ed system for the first time.

There are varying degrees of issues that we have experience with: ADHD, Autism, Cognitive Impairment, Emotionally Impaired, Physically Impaired, Learning Disabilities or combinations of any of these. We were discussing the chance of reduced funding and what/how legislators are dealing with it OR not dealing with it.

The point that was made obvious today though is that we are informed and know about what we deal with or have learned about. "They" (legislators, school employees, other parents, other family members) don't always understand what we deal with because they don't live it every day. We expect "them" to know what our lives are like when there is no possible way they can understand unless they have something or someone similar in their life. I believe this is an unfair expectation of them....and us.

A meltdown to someone else looks like our kid is being rude to others and us. Sometimes it is, but often times it is because they feel safe with us and have had to be on high performance to function in the everyday world. Something I sometimes take for granted. My brain isn't going 160 all the time unless it has help to slow down and focus on one thing. Many times, my child's brain is. I can (pretty much) recognize facial/social cues to know what the other person is thinking. My child doesn't always....and will keep talking and talking (picture the Energizer bunny, smile).

Special ed and our kids/family life is just one small piece in the puzzle of life where this happens all the time. We expect someone to understand where we're coming from. However, we are looking at the situation with what we know and have learned by living it every day. Another person expects the same thing and may be frustrated when we can't understand why something is a big deal.

I knew very little about ADHD, medication, counseling, etc. until our family started to deal with it. I probably was one of those people that has babysat or looked at a kid and said why can't they just listen better, try harder, etc. For the fact that my eyes have been more opened to what is going on around me, ADHD and our family issues have been a blessing in disguise. I would like to think that I have become a better, less judgmental person for walking the road we've been given.

In an effort to help others know what we live, I hope that we are willing to learn and experience what others are living through. We will never truly experience what the person is dealing with, but maybe they can give us a piece of a puzzle that will fill in a big picture of working together to be more understanding.

Job 15:9 (NIV) What do you know that we do not know? What insights do you have that we do not have?

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