Several weeks ago I came across a post on Facebook that caught my eye……… It was written from a teacher’s point of view and as a former classroom teacher I always enjoy reading about others experiences; especially when it appears to be a regular education teacher sharing her thoughts on children with special needs….. Yet, I always assume the worst…. Being a former special education teacher I am a little prejudice towards teachers of “my kind” and feel they are extra special……. Not that regular education teachers aren’t…. they just don’t always “get it”… ask them…. they will admit if… IF they are good teachers……. So when I ran across it in my newsfeed posted by one of my friends who is a regular education teacher and her comment included how good it was, I was curious to see what it was all about…. I had no doubt, that the title “that kid”was referring to either students with special needs; most likely autism, or the student with behavioral issues……
As a former teacher I have had “that” student and listened to parents complain about “that” student. As an autism and behavior specialist I have spent countless hours praying for wisdom as to what interventions, accommodations or small acts could possibly change the behaviors of “that” child. But as I begin to read imagine my surprise as I realized it was written from a teachers point of view alright but she was defending “that kid” to other parents…. Not jumping on the bandwagon of most with the opinion of “your child doesn’t belong in my classroom”, “I don’t know what to do with him”, “he is preventing others from learning”, or my favorite “I don’t think he belongs in public school”…. I always wonder just where they think he or she would belong…. but I am scared of what their response would be so I have never asked……
If you have not read that particular post I encourage you to do so….. “Dear Parent: About THAT Kid…” Read Here
After the reading of the posts was concluded, I had tears running down my face, as I realized the post was written on children like mine’s behalf…. On the behalf of parents like Kris and I and the many many others who are the parents of “THAT”kid……. the kid other children ridicule, that parents complain about, and the administration doesn’t know what to do with. The kid that causes teachers to want to drink and paras to wear protective gear……. Yes,“that” kid…. You know the one….. you have seen them, or more likely have heard them. It’s “that kid” who is screaming in the middle of the store assumed was getting the toy he wanted ……… or maybe “that kid” who just got naked at the pool……. or “that kid” who just shrieked so loud in the restaurant no one could hear…. Yea.. any of those situations my child could have been “that kid”.
I am “that” kids mom……. the one who gets the dirty looks at the grocery store because my child doesn’t watch where he is going….. Or grabs the pork butt you were reaching for but before you can- he steps in front of you….. yes, it is rude…. But he had his hands on it first….. (many adults will exhibit similar behavior on Black Friday) We are the parents of “that kid” who sometimes wishes we could just disappear in a hole when the dirty looks come our way or the snide remarks. Or my personal favorite, “He wouldn’t act that way if he lived with me.” (As if….)
In preschool, Will was “that kid” the other parents complained about. “That kid” that NEVER took a nap and screamed when anyone even mentioned the word “nap”. He was aggressive and parents feared their child would be hurt. Yep, he was “that kid”. In kindergarten, he was “that kid” who couldn’t even stay all day. He was “that kid” that refused to come in off the playground, that ran from adults, refused to sit in circle time and still didn’t like the word nap. “That kid” you could hear screaming all through the building plainly disturbing all others learning. Yea, that is the kid…. Throughout his elementary school years he continued to be “that kid”, the one who flushed his clothes down the toilet, refused to wear a coat outside in freezing weather, and licked all the icing of the cupcakes in the lounge.
Will is now in middle school and although our days as “that kid” have lessened in number… we still revisit the title occasionally but for different reasons entirely. He is still seen as “that kid” who doesn’t talk much, walks on his tippy toes, sometimes flaps and makes noises, and can’t be left unattended. And most importantly he is known as “that kid” who smiles all the time, wants to hold hands with women, and is twizzling his paper…..
Because Will has been “that kid” and could qualify for the title at any time, I am cognizant of those who have taken the extra time and gone the extra mile to make a difference in “that kid” and the many others before him and after him.
AND I want to say THANKS……..
I am thankful for the mental health therapist at Will’s developmental preschool who told us we should “Expect” the same things from Will that we “Expected” from his sisters… Just maybe to different degrees. Advice that has proven to be invaluable for his dad and I. It brought us to the realization that despite his diagnosis and the fact that he could be “that kid” we were not going to expect anything less than his best. No matter what it looked like.
I am thankful for the police officers who never complained when Will locked my keys in the car in our driveway more than once.
I am thankful for a librarian that embraced Will even though he was not interested in the books in her library, was impossible to get to sit still and listen to story time. His only interest was in sneaking in the closet to view her outdated VHS Disney tapes.
I am thankful for a group of teachers who despite being “that kid” they included him in their class parties, field trips, and awards. Even though others may have seen him as being “that kid” whose needs seem to be considerably more demanding thus taking the teachers time away from her other learners.
I am thankful for an administration for being willing to make adjustments to the playground for “that kid” who peed off the slide during recess, despite the many times he was taken to the restroom.
I am thankful for paras who were willing to give Will a shower when he wasn’t completely potty trained and had accidents or decided he wanted to play in the mud.
I am thankful for his teacher who, although sweaty and at her wits end with our kid would encourage us at the end of the day by reminding us tomorrow would be better.
I am thankful for the school nurse who provided “that kid” with clothes, albeit too small, when he would flush his down the toilet.
I am thankful for the custodian who allowed “that kid” to help with the trash in the afternoon when he was tired of doing work and needed to get out and walk.
I am thankful for a secretary who is always happy to see “that kid” when he comes in late…. because it doesn’t matter to her why….
I am thankful for a teacher and paras who could think outside the box for “that kid” who didn’t want anyone to wear shoes by wearing hospital covers over them.
I am thankful for the teacher who didn’t wear anything red for over two years because it put “that kid” in sensory overload.
I am thankful for the cafeteria ladies who provided “that kid” with extra rolls, because lets face it, who doesn’t like home made rolls.
I am thankful for such great advocates who always have had my kids needs at heart when his parents were to overwhelmed to make decisions.
I am thankful for a teacher who was always honest with me when something was suggested that wasn’t possible.
I am thankful for a bus driver who was willing to give “that kid” a chance to ride the bus and provide twizzle paper as needed.
I am thankful for a staff who provided extra snacks for “that kid” when he was overly hungry.
I am thankful for Will’s first grade teacher who shared with her class that everyone has a disability, why Will didn’t talk and why he sometimes got upset. She explained why he was “that kid” and it made such an impact on his classmates, they voted for him for the Sunshine Award.
I am thankful for the many participants in IEP meeting who always shared more positives than negatives, who will hand me a Kleenex when the tears escaped my eyes and always helped us find solutions instead of just complain.
I am thankful for the staff who would address “that kid” everyday in the hall so he could work on his conversation and communication skills.
I am thankful for therapist who call me and begin their statement with “It is good….” knowing that I can’t help but assume the worst. But proceed to say, “I just wanted you to know Will had a great day in therapy.”
I am thankful for the volunteers who provide the opportunity for kids like mine to participate in Special Olympics during non school hours allowing our family to feel apart of something.
I am thankful for the numerous speech-language pathologists who have worked together to encourage “that kid” who is nonverbal by all accounts to talk.
I am thankful for the many pictures I have received over the years of Will doing something special that they knew would bring a smile to my face.
I am thankful for the occupational therapist who worked with “that kid” to write his name.
I am thankful that those working with Will knew to look forward to the future and encourage us to allow him develop his independence yet giving him just enough supervision when mama was not wanting to “let go”,
I am thankful for the occupational therapist who taught Will to tie his shoes just in time so that he didnt have to wear old men velcro shoes.
I am thankful those working with “that kid” knows who he is and what he likes and will bribe, I mean reward him along the way with Coffee, candy, popcorn or movies…..
I am thankful for the teachers and therapist who attended Will’s Special Olympic events and theater group to provide support for him.
I am thankful for the many teachers, paraprofessionals, therapist and staff for sharing what a joy my child is to you. It makes me proud.
I am thankful for teachers who year after year let us have “that kids” birthday party in his self contained classroom because she knows those are his only friends.
I am thankful to the staff at Joe’s Pizza for always giving us boxes the same size despite the size of our pizzas because everything has to be even.
I am thankful for the sales clerks at Dollar General who helps “that kid” learn how much money it takes to buy something and patiently waits to count out the change.
I am thankful for the paraprofessional who helped Will make me a Happy Birthday card.
Iam thankful that on Mondays the staff of Will’s school is so excited to see him and tell him how much they missed him. Every child should feel missed by somebody.
I am thankful that on field trips, the bus driver was willing to drive out of the way to by pass all McDonald’s as to not upset “that kid”.
I am thankful that the teachers and staff assure me they don’t think I am a bad parent despite the fact that my kid wears the same shirt three days a week possibly five if he can get away with it, sometimes wears socks with holes in the bottom of them, and NO underwear…..
I am thankful for the students we see in the community that always speak to Will.
I am extremely thankful for the staff at Roper’s Restaurant who waits patiently for Will to use his words knowing how important it is to his speech development.
I am thankful for the cooks at Roper’s that cook his corndogs just right knowing he will only eat them at a certain color.
I am thankful for school staff, friends, and family who will laugh with me at Will’s antics, even if it is because they don’t know what else to do……
I am thankful for a Superintendent and Special Ed Supervisor who has an open door policy and offers assistance when needed.
I am thankful for the pharmacist and assistance at Harp’s who will get us groceries through the window so we didn’t have to go in when Will was younger and we only needed one or two things.
This list of Thank You’s could go on and on……..
I am overwhelmingly thankful for all the teachers and staff who have worked with “that kid” because “that kid” in particular is mine. And although you may not have witnessed the huge improvements at that time, you are a part of his current success. But what makes me most thankful is that all of you have continued to do what you did with all the other “that kid” that come your way. You continue to reach out to those who need you the most. You offer support, compassion, love and ACCEPTANCE…..It’s not easy being “that” kid. It’s not easy being “that kids” parent but it is equally difficult educating “that kid”.
My heart will continue to grieve for children who have “that kid” status yet rejoices for all the teachers, paras, and other school staff, and communities that continue to aide “that” child even when it appears there is no HOPE…..
As Will Shinn has demonstrated the only thing some of “those” kids need is an opportunity to shine.
Thank you Greenbrier Schools, parents and community for giving my kid a chance!!!!
Kris and Brandi have a passion for children with special needs, their families and those responsible for their education. They see their business Above All Else as their calling not just their jobs. It is personal, they live the special needs life everyday- day in and day out due to their 15 year old son having moderate-severe Autism. They know how it feels to receive such a damning diagnosis, to have the feelings of despair, and isolation. Their goal is that no family ever loses hope. (continue reading...)