Thursday, February 16, 2012

"He Can Do Lots of Things"

I can't get this moment out of my mind. There is a boy in Dean's class at school who has Treacher-Collins Syndrome and CP (cerebral palsy). We'll call him Kevin. Kevin's mom usually comes with him to school (in the 2-year-old "natural environment" program in our county, a parent accompanies the child to school), but today, Kevin's grandma came instead.

At one point during circle time, Kevin started falling to the side while positioned in his adaptive chair. There was a brief exchange among the teachers, the PT, and the OT as to whether they needed to let Kevin try to work to sit up (because he can) or to support him a little more. As the exchanges flew back and forth, Kevin's grandma spoke up firmly but humbly, "He can sit up." She took a quick breath and said again, "He can do lots of things."

I wish you could have heard the conviction in her voice. I wish you could have seen how deeply she knew the truth of what she said when you looked in her eyes. I wish I could say she didn't look like she felt helpless to convince others of this important truth.

I wanted to stop circle time and hug her right there. I wanted to say, "I get it, Grandma. YOU know all that Kevin can do and they'll never know all that you can know. YOU know how amazing he really is." I could feel her sweet, yet protective, heart saying, Don't just go by appearances. Appearances are deceiving. There's more here in this boy than you can ever dream of.

I know what she's feeling because I feel similarly about another little boy named Dean. :) Many will misunderstand, many will look at only scores or physical appearances or preconceived notions about what one "should" be able to do. Only those who take the time to look closer and open their minds to possibilities really will get it.

Isn't this true of so many people, not just those with special needs? We can stick with a preconceived notion, or we can dare to love and dare to know them a little more. So go do it. Let someone blow your mind and tear apart your expectations. Find yourself saying, "She/he can do lots of things, more things than I initially thought." I know I'm learning more about how not to box people in, because I want that same grace to be afforded to my own son, my other sons, my family, myself.

9 comments:

Haley said...

Great post, made me tear up!!

desertgirl said...

I can definitely relate to this post! My 4 year old has been mistreated and labeled at his school by the teachers because of a behavior incident back in October. They look at him and that's all they can see and when I look, I know the truth.

Andrea said...

Such an awesome post, Ali! And you are so right. This is true of all people. We have fought this with our eldest daughter because she can be so introverted and shy, so especially when she was younger people assumed if she wasn't talking that she couldn't. We finally showed the counselor and administrator at her school a video of one of her dramatic performances from home. Their jaws hit the floor. They were seeing a different kid from the one they assumed she was. I'm sure it's even worse with special needs, but I admire that Grandma and you for fighting the battle!

Ali Foley Shenk said...

Andrea, that's it, exactly!!! I think shy kids definitely can get put in a similar box of others thinking they "know" what the child can or cannot do. I'm so glad you were able to show others differently. :)

Laurie said...

This post brought tears to my eyes - I really could "feel" what was happening in the room. I'm so glad she stood up for her grandchild. I know exactly how she feels.

sara said...

love that grandma. and don't you know that God is advocating for us all the time, saying that we can do a lot of things with his power to back us up.

love to you guys.

Ali Foley Shenk said...

sara, Amen!!

Barbara said...

Bravo Ali for sharing , and grandma for advocating! That's the kind of grandma that I want to be for Cody too! I think I 'get it'. I know Cody is so much more than a 3 year old that doesn't talk! Thank you for taking a stand on this & sharing with us, Ali...

Janet Gulley said...
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