Sometimes you just need a good cry especially when the hard truth is in writing and is staring you in the face. It just took me an hour to finish reading Jenelle's Assessment report from the District. While I am used to hearing terms like "Skill Level is at a 0 to 4 month level", it is not easy to read. Physically on the surface, Jenelle does not look mentally retarded. However on paper, she is the exact description of a mentally retarded child. Again, this is no surprise, but never easy to hear. So I had a good cry, and now I can move on. Sometimes I regain my strength from days like this.
I toured a county program this morning, and the one offered by our school district. At the county program, the kids looked like what you would expect; they were in wheel chairs, they wore AFOs, they had G-Tubes and Tracheas and they "looked" mentally retarded. But they were happy, and they were functioning, they were communicating and they were learning. After seeing the County facility, I went to observe the District's special needs pre-school program. While the facility was equally as nice, I actually had to ask which kids were the "special needs" kids because they were walking, talking, playing and actively aware of their learning environment. I did observe one autistic child throw a tantrum, and shamefully told myself to be thankful we did not have similar issues with Jenelle. A horrible thought, I know. But, the choice is crystal clear, Jenelle is not ready for the district's program, and would get the most benefit out of the county program. She may not look it, but she is mentally retarded for all intensive purposes. Sure, it's not easy to accept, but in reality this is the best place for her to go.
Tomorrow is Jenelle's IEP, and I'm told the District is going to recommend she continue all of her therapies (basically everything.) It doesn't look like it will be much of a fight. We can only hope it goes this well. I'll keep you posted.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
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Knowing something in your heart and seeing it in writing are two different things. I'm sure this was hard for you. But please remember this: this is not the end but only the beginning. This is a GOOD thing because now they can formulate the best plan to help your precious girl be all that she can be. Mentally retarded just means that she learns at a different rate than others. Once that is identified, the work to help her move forward can begin.
My heart goes out to you, Kelly, as you take a moment to officially mourn what you have always known. But know, as someone who works with developmentally delayed children, that children only stop growing and learning and progressing when we stop helping them...when WE give up.
I am so encouraged by the assessment. Now the real work of helping Jenelle can begin. I have worked with severly retarded people who lived amazingly full, productive, and happy lives. This is my hope for Jenelle.
My prayers are with you that you find peace and even encouragement from this assessment. And remember...these are written on paper and not in stone, and retarded means slower not without hope.
All my love to you,
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