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Hope and Fear, and Summer’s Passing

photo[5]Didn’t I just write a post about the beginning of summer? As I watch updates from friends and fellow special needs parents roll by on Facebook, I keep seeing three words, the ones so seemingly innocent and so loaded with mixed emotions.

“Back to school.”

Schuyler doesn’t start classes for another few weeks, although she’s already been doing volunteer activities as a cheerleader during her school’s orientation days. She and her fellow cheerleaders lead new kids on tours around the building. She uses her iPad to speak to them, and between tours, she and her fellow cheerleaders goof around on her iPad, taking funny photos of each other and playing Diner Dash. If it’s unusual, having a cheerleader who speaks with an iPad and a speech app (using an Irish accent, no less), no one seems particularly bothered by it.

It’s funny, the future. Sometimes it ambushes us, with a surprise diagnosis much worse than expected, or a seizure in a public place, or wicked words from a stranger. But sometimes, it unfolds exactly as it should. Exactly how you need it to.

Going back to school is fraught with peril for any parent, but for special needs parents, it’s like walking into a darkened room and relying on hope to get you through. You make your plans, you go to your meetings, and you do everything you can to make sure the environment is in place for your kid to thrive. But you do so trusting in other people with whom you’ve perhaps never worked with or even met. Therapists and teachers will ultimately succeed or fail on their own. Classmates will either find common ground with your kid, or they’ll clash. And you know better than most that when kids like ours butt against their neurotypical classmates, the outcome is usually a foregone conclusion.

For parents of special needs kids, that first day of school is a mountain of possibility, and it towers next to a valley of fear.

I don’t have much in the way of wisdom to offer. I simply wanted to acknowledge what so many of you are facing today, and what the rest of us will face soon enough. I want to say that I feel your hope, and I share your fear, and as those classroom bells ring for the first time this year, I hope the hope triumphs and the fear disappears like smoke.

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2 Comments
  1. Meg
    August 13, 2013 | Reply
  2. August 13, 2013 | Reply

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