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Schuyler’s Season

imageSchuyler loves summer. It’s when she becomes her truest self.

She works hard during the school year. She received her final report card this past week, and her grades averaged out to a 91. Schuyler is an A student, doing work that represents both modified work and mainstream curriculum. She won a First Division medal at her band solo contest on the marimba, no small feat at all. She overcame some social awkwardness at her school, with the help and direction of her teachers, who included us and utilized us on campus in order to make it happen. At the end of the year, Schuyler brought her yearbook to school and filled it with notes from classmates with whom she seems to have made some solid connections, and she’s preparing for her eighth grade year as a cheerleader.

After some early bumps, and in spite of a challenging IEP meeting, Schuyler ended up having a pretty good year.

And now, she sheds it all, because summer is here, and summer is her season.

This summer, there were some possibilities, of mentoring at an AAC camp, for example, or attending a PMG conference, but they ultimately didn’t materialize. We’re keeping on her to continue increasing her AAC use, except when she’s in the pool, of course. She’s been a good sport about it so far, but she’s been out of school for two weeks. We’ll see how it goes.

Schuyler will have some travel this summer, to visit family both old and new, but she won’t be expected to be professional, something that she does very easily and has ever since the book was published. Schuyler will swim, and she will go to amusement parks and baseball games, and she will go to monster movies with her father. (I don’t know why the producers of the upcoming Pacific Rim made a movie seemingly made specifically for Schuyler and I to see, probably ten times in ten days, but they have our most sincere and impatient gratitude.) Schuyler will just get to be herself, the self that she becomes during the summer. It’s a different self, I think.

Schuyler doesn’t revert developmentally during the summer, not exactly, but she does simplify. She still loves to come to work with me a few days a week, delighting in exploring the campus with me and seeing the co-workers who have known her since she was a little girl. During the summer, Schuyler is less aware than ever of her disability, which is more than fine with me. Almost everyone she meets is a friend, not a therapist trying to measure some aspect of her skills through contrived friendship, or an evaluator trying to identify or construct phony limits to her capabilities. During the summer, Schuyler is meeting people at the pool, or at her summer baseball programs. Her new acquaintances are made to the sound of splashing and laughter and the croaking of cicadas, which we call “hot bugs” because they seem to be at their loudest when the air is thick with humidity and cartoonish heat lines wiggle up from the pavement.

During the summer, Schuyler isn’t a kid with special needs, or an AAC user enduring constant training in order to speak in an effective but entirely unnatural way. She’s not sitting across the table, physical or virtual, from professionals measuring her through eyes that may seem warm but often are very much not. She’s not being evaluated or tested or sized up or categorized.

Summer is Schuyler’s touchstone, her fortress, her field of play, and her natural state. It’s when she’s at her happiest, and so you may rightly conclude that despite the oppressive Texas heat, I’m rather fond of the summer as well. It’s when I get my little girl back.

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One Comment
  1. Missy
    June 24, 2013 | Reply

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