Kids with Special Needs and School: a Look Back

girl graduates

A blast from the past: Amelia’s preschool graduation. This year, Seven Generations saw a mass exodus of staff on every level, and we will be returning to a very new and different school. We’ve also had some requested changes that I don’t think I’m too fond of. We shall see how things turn out… This post was first published on 6/18/2009.

This Wednesday was the last day of school “first years” for both my daughters. Zoe completed her first year of preschool and Amelia finished her first year of  “real” school (kindergarten).  As I drove Amelia home from her last day yesterday, tears in my eyes, I realized how entirely naive I had been about kids with special needs and school and my daughter’s disability, and how I have reached another level of acceptance right then in that car ride.

In September, I barely noticed the gap between her and her peers.  Why were they only scheduling her to count to 30? (She made it to 15, and one to one is still stuck around 5.)  Why were they not doing kid writing with her? (She can write most of the letters, some in both cases, but not words yet.) Why weren’t they pushing her spelling skills? (She’s actually pretty good with letters and the alphabet; they solidly taught this to her.)

I’ve been assured that she’s ready for the first grade, but there is a doubt in my heart that they are saying that because we pushed so hard in her August IEP.  She is pre-registered for a charter school – full inclusion, first year it’s open – but I’m not sure if it’s not better to put her in an instructional learning situation with her peers.

I’m way too new at this, but there is a part of me that knows she will be ok.  I just look at her sometimes, ya know, and marvel at God’s handiwork.  Oh Lord, I’m crying as I write this.

Don’t think I don’t feel this same way about Zoe, who made great strides this year. From 2 words, she has what now? 30? Today sitting on my belly she said a new word, “padcake”, which means “pat-a-cake”, which she LOVES.  The new TSS is working out lovely, and Amelia today had her evaluation. I brought her and guess what? I LOVED the psychologist. He was AWESOME.  He treated her like a kid, even as we discussed the difficulties particular to Down syndrome. Didn’t condescend. Didn’t label (she does NOT have ODD). Didn’t go remotely near anything topic like “medication.” He even said some of her speech patterns were seen in typically developing 6 year olds. He thought she was a regular kid, with some learning difficulties, no biggie.

My hope, my prayer, my fondest wish for my children is that they can grow up in a world where everyone treats them like that.  I know, that’s a wish I don’t even get.  Everyone on this planet is judged in age, race, sex, gender, and a million other things they were born with every day.  But I hope that there are times, days, places and people that will give them a breather from that sometimes.

Can I just say how gosh-darn proud I am of my two little angels? Kids with special needs and school do go together, but it’s up to us parents to make that work!


  1. says

    Thank you for sharing such an emotional journey with us. I strongly suggest you to look into the link I am attaching. As I saw there are several Waldorf Oriented Schools in the PA and may be there is one near you. Due to the complex and holistic approach to child education and development I have personally seen children with sensory disorder thrive in this educational environment. When in a traditional school system they were seeing as incapable of catching up with the rest, at Waldorf they help them work with their limitations and explore their capacities to overcome them. See this link:

    I pray to God that he will give you the guidance and the strength you need to continue being the great mom you are. We too, in our family have a child with “limitations”, unfortunately he is in a Country with these opportunities are not available to them yet.

    Liseth’s last blog post..Are Vaccinations Good or Bad for Us?

    • admin says

      Wow, Lisbeth, thank you so much! I am checking it out now. Zoe is pretty high functioning, but I still worry. Amelia does not have autism, she has Down syndrome. There is an excellent school here (recommended by my preferred therapists) but the tuition is about $17K per year, so it’s not doable. Still, we have options, so we’ll see.

  2. says

    If you doubt your child is ready for first grade she may not be. You could do some concentrated homeschooling this summer with her and see how things are in August. You could also consider homeschooling her for the year if that is possible. I just found you so I haven’t read much. Mom it sounds like you are doing a great job!

    God bless
    Heather L

    Heather L’s last blog post..This week on the Company Porch

    • admin says

      Hi Heather, thank you! I’m really really really not gifted at teaching. REALLY. That’s why I’ve never considered homeschooling. This is not to say that I won’t help out and review things with her, but teaching is some massive fail for me. :-) (see my posts about the potty!) We’re still doing the best we can without it. Thanks for the kind words!! They mean a lot.

  3. says

    Found you on google blog search– What a couple of cuties!

    We’ve got a little guy with both a genetic condition (not Downs) and Sensory Integration Disorder, so we’re dealing with a lot of the same things you are. I’m so glad you’ve found some wonderful people to work with your little ones who treat them like people instead of conditions. We’ve been lucky enough to find a few of those in our journey; there aren’t nearly enough of them out there.

    Looking forward to reading more!


    Connor’s Mom’s last blog post..Bear Hunt!

    • admin says

      Hi Connor’s Mom! No there are NOT enough of them out there, even those that provide services. After just a few weeks, and a few visit, one doctor threw out labels and medicine recommendations. It’s funny, I see Amelia as a typical kid. Yea, she’s aggressive at times, and yea, she sometimes (not always) has a fit when she doesn’t want to do something. So??? Isn’t that part of being a kid??? Gee whiz, people act like she should be adult in her behavior. It’s too frustrating. Plus, I see a really big push to making kids grow up fast. I was really smart as a kid but not fast-back then we took our time and it all worked out. I don’t get the push to rush myself, set up for precoscious behaviors if you ask me!!

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