John is in class, sitting in his wheelchair....his English work has been propped up in front of him, on his adjustable desk top. He has a custom pencil, large sized, with a rubber grip designed to hold his fingers in place. The page he is working on has been customized with larger boxes giving extra space for his writing. His hand are affected by his cerebral palsy, so written output is really tough for him...but he is doing his best...he is trying to write clearly, so the teacher can read it, but it's not easy. He has only completed one line...and it is really messy. He has a bunch of ideas in his head on how his story should go, but getting them on paper is excruciating. He knows that he is way behind the other students and it's really embarrassing. Every day is hard and sometimes he just doesn't want to go to school.
Paul sits beside him. His body is perfect...he's handsome and has a smile that could light up a room. His desk is in the middle of the room, and it's really loud there. He sees a ray of sun that is travelling across the top of it, and it is fascinating. It seems to make the wood change colour and he wonders why. Outside he can hear the grade 10 soccer team practicing and he is trying to put faces to the voices he hears. He is gifted, with ADHD and a learning disability that slows down his processing speed, so written output is really tough for him...but he is doing his best....he is trying to write clearly, so the teacher can read it, but it's not easy. He has only completed one line...and it is really messy. He has a bunch of ideas in his head on how his story should go but getting them out on paper is excruciating. He knows that he is way behind the other students and it's really embarrassing. Every day is hard and sometimes he just doesn't want to go to school.
Paul's head snaps around to look at the teacher. "Yes sir?"
"You're daydreaming again...I saw you staring at your desk. How much work have you completed."
"I've finished the first line." says Paul.
"This first line! Let me look at it." says the teacher, coming to Paul's desk. "Okay, well it's pretty clear you aren't trying very hard. Your letters are a mess. How can I read this? And what have you been doing for the past hour? Is that really all you have? Look Paul, we've talked about this before. You need to focus! If you just tried a little harder, you'd have half a page written by now. Seriously, what is going on in your head!?"
"Uhh...well...I'm not sure." says Paul.
"Yes, well, that's the problem...you're never sure...you're off in Never Never Land all the time. Look, you need to get to task and use your time wisely. If you don't pick up the pace, then you are in again at lunch, and every lunch, until you get caught up...understand?"
"Yes, sir" says Paul, on the verge of tears.
Lunch is the only thing that keeps him coming to school. A time when he can run, and burn steam and get the endless clutter out of his head, so he can survive the afternoon and the overwhelm of another mountain of work coming his way, that will just end up going home with him. Knowing then that his mom will need to sit with him, sometimes for hours, to get it done. They will quarrel and each be frustrated and it will suck. But at least he knows - she 'gets' him. Other kids will be outside playing soccer before bed and he will wish he could join them.
The teacher leaves Paul's desk.
On the way, he passes by John and glances at his work.
"Nice job, John." The teacher says.
"Thanks!" says John, feeling a sigh of relief, thinking that today is not such a bad day after all.
If any of this story rings true, then pass it on.
Share it with others who need to know they are not alone. Share it with the offenders and let them know that this is NOT okay.
This happens - everyday - and it needs to stop.
I've been there - and I've seen both sides, raising a child with a physical disability and another with invisable disabilities.
I know how worn out you are. Some days I feel beat up, really beat up, and exhausted trying to bring the ignorant around...feeling their judgment and eye rolling as I fight for my kid. Wondering why I need to fight so hard.
But it's worth it - it's always worth it - because it's RIGHT.
And when you get really down and are not sure if you have any fight left in you - then think of this...your child will know they have a rock star for a parent - and that's got to be worth something.
Judy Mouland loves to challenge the status quo and chip away at the word ‘normal.’ Over the years, she has learned to embrace and use her own quirky brain to succeed and is passionate about the power of self-awareness. She became a CTI(Coaches Training Institute) Life Coach for people with ADHD, LD, OCD, aspergers, autism and other conditions after serving for 25+ years in local, national and international settings, most recently as the C.E.O. of the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada. She works to empower her clients to live life on their own terms - no excuses - and to uncover their brilliance so they can shine. She is aTrueTilt Certified Practitioner, a team member at Psychological Services Associates (PSA Ottawa) and a member of the International Coaches Federation. She advises team leaders and senior management on how to create truly meaningful accommodations in the workplace. She also freely admits that most everything she knows she has learned from her exceptional children, who never let her brain become idle. You can write to Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org and her empowering blog posts can be found at: www.judymouland.com/blog