Is this really helping?
The end of the school year brings a mixed bag of emotions. Perhaps this is because I’m new to the rhythm of the school year. J has only been back in school for the past 3 years. Part of my motivation for homeschooling was the freedom to throw daily schedule and typical school rhythms into the wind and run free, with happy children behind me (picture sound of music, and the kids running in the hills). My homeschool journey has not had as much of the happy children running free bit as I would have liked. But I found the freedom and power to create my own rhythm, brainstorm and discuss what I chose, create my own plans and execute them, or not, just based on my own issues, very freeing. With J back in school, I’m again confronted with the limitations of our school system and the pain of having a child that does not quite fit ‘the program’. At the end of the year, I get to look at all that (with the help of the jolly IEP meeting) and ask, ‘Is this helping? Is this worth it? What else is there?’
This year has been an interesting one. J has demonstrated his ability to be at least 4 different people over the course of the year. Which one of these people is present, and how long he stays, depends on factors only J knows (and he's not telling). Navigating this requires a particularly flexible environment and mindset. I’ve found myself in endless conversations with his support personnel discussing options and strategies, just to have not quite the desirable outcome. Do all these meetings, discussions, research make a difference? Does it matter???
This line of questioning often proves fruitless, and can open the doors to depression, mood swings and busts of frustration. Then, something happens... I'm not sure what prompts it. Perhaps there's no need to explain it, except that the Holy Spirit gives grace. The grace comes as a momentary flash of scenes from J's life. I see the apparently random, coincidental moments that changed the course of our experience with autism and our son:
- the chance meeting of a sister from another mother 10 years ago, and her message about a helpful teaching strategy 8 years later
- the unlikely conversation that went off the rails and mentioned a supplement that may help with OCD
- the name of a clinician who was copied on an email that I was also copied on...
If I'm really honest, the pivotal moments in my son's development are not largely due to my research, brainstorming and discussion. They came by chance, a sequence of events, unplanned, that led us to this present moment.
As always, seeing God's hand in the past brings assurance of God's hand in the future. I wish I knew how to orchestrate these coincidences. Alas... I must continue to trust the guiding hand of the Orchestrator of Coincidences.
So, I will research, discuss, advocate and argue as necessary, in support of my son's needs. And, I will trust the Eternal Father, who loves J beyond anything I could even imagine, permeate every space that we occupy, and help us continue to notice, build and connect with others and resources. He's done it before. Over. and over. and over. He'll do to again, and the current IEP meeting, home health aide, clinician support will not get in the way of the coincidences that are on the way!
Depend on it
I'm not sure how you feel about the school year that has passed. I hope it fulfilled at least 70% of your dreams for your loved one (though special needs parents learn to lower their expectations). If it did not, and you're tired and frustrated, take a moment, and remember. He's done it before. He'll do it again.
Advocate like it depends on you. Trust like it depends on God, because it does, and He is dependable.
We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God’s purpose prevails. (Proverbs 19:21, MSG)