We are just getting our feet back on the ground after a wonderful 2-week vacation in Washington State. Abbie thrived on long walks through the woods, listening for birds and looking for deer. She also spent quite a bit of time on a massage table positioned next to an enormous window overlooking a grove of pine trees. If a body can say “ahhhhhhh”, that’s what she looked like much of the vacation. I think she relished not having any appointments or therapies as much as we did.
The day after we got home I had a meeting at the elementary school to revalidate Abbie’s eligibility for special education and to discuss the reports written by school staff who had done observations in June and July. Usually with Abbie, the eligibility meeting is simply a check-the-block exercise because it is obvious to everyone that she meets the criteria for provision of special ed. This year, however, threw me a curveball blessing.
There are many categories of eligbility for special ed (i.e. deafness, vision impairment, autism, etc.) Abbie has always fallen into the category titled “multiple disabilites”. This seemed entirely appropriate to me, as she has challenges on many fronts. This year, however, the special services coordinator, Ms. B., brought folders for all of us to review, containing the criteria worksheets for each category. For a student to meet the criteria, each question had to be answered “yes.” I bit my lip when I read the first criteria under “multiple disabilities”. It referred to “intellectual functioning three or more standard deviations below normal”. The rest of the questions also included reference to significantly impaired intellectual function. I certainly didn’t think this fit Abbie, but I didn’t know what the staff would think, given their rather limited exposure to her.
As we finished reading through that worksheet, I didn’t even have time to look up before Ms. B. stole my words, saying “I’m not sure Abbie really falls into this category anymore.” WOW! They see her!!! They believe me, and her! As a team we determined that Abbie is eligible for special ed under a category titled “Other Health Challenges”. In other words, I have a PHYSICALLY disabled daughter, who needs special ed services to work around these challenges to maximize her tremendous intellectual potential. That little girl has worked so, so hard, for so many years….my heart rejoices over her accomplishments and progress, and the fact that more and more she is able to make her own point, which is “I am able!”
She will be homeschooled this year, with collaboration of school therapy staff and perhaps a tutor. They are a great group of folks, so I am looking forward to seeing what we can do together to help Abbie.
We are blessed!