Monday, December 17, 2012

Dumb? Lazy? I Think Not.

As the whole family celebrated a college graduation at Freed Hardeman University this weekend, I was reminded of some of the things that Tate and Sydney will not be able to accomplish. At a reception for the graduates, I spoke briefly with the college president. I told him that our fourth child will be starting college in the fall of next year. Jokingly, I asked him if the fifth child would be able to attend FHU at a discount. It didn’t occur to me to even mention the sixth child or the seventh child to him. I have no real expectations or dreams of college for them. Am I giving up too easily or selling them short? Am I out of faith and hope? I don’t think so. My hopes and dreams for them are just different. I am only being realistic. I cannot afford to set the goals so high they are unachievable. My two youngest cannot keep up with their peers, through no fault of their own. We focus on learning to count coins and do simple addition and subtraction, while peers are learning about division. We focus on reading picture books and answering a few questions correctly, while peers are reading chapter books and taking much harder tests. We focus on social skills because they have to be taught systematically, and we hope and dream that some of these simple skills we are teaching will be mastered and retained. 

My oldest two have now graduated from college. They are going on to do great things. One is a minister and is very talented in the field of graphic design. One is working toward a career in the field of law. I have two who are working to become nurses and their goals are reasonable ones for them. I am very proud of them. But, am I any less proud of these two who cannot yet count change or read age appropriate literature? 

Who is it that works harder? Whose accomplishments are loftier? Is it my twenty-two year old who studied hard and graduated from college? Or was it my developmentally delayed eleven year old, who after months and months of practice, remembered to make eye contact while he told the joke he had been trying to memorize? Perhaps it was my nine year old with a learning disability who got one hundred percent on her spelling test? THOSE were amazing victories!

Tate cannot clean his room without someone helping him. It has to be broken down into small tasks and one-step directions. He cannot put his own laundry away unless it is given to him in very small amounts. Large tasks are just too overwhelming and impossible for him to tackle. Kids like Tate and Sydney are often thought of as “dumb” or even lazy. I can testify to the fact that neither of my developmentally delayed kids are dumb or lazy. They both work very hard and they both are smart. They just do not process information as quickly as we do, nor do they think the same way we do.  Recently I saw a quote that said something along these lines:  "Autism is not a processing error. Autism is a different operating system." That sums it up. 

As my heart swells with pride over the great accomplishments of my college graduates, I will also be appreciating the advances made by my youngest two children. Those gains might seem so insignificant to most people, but not to me. You see, I watch my two youngest work much harder to accomplish so much less. Almost everything comes harder to them. People with disabilities, making gains in spite of their handicaps, and overcoming their challenges daily are also worthy of celebrating. Celebrate with me.  
My two youngest, so easy to love.
Also by this author: "15 Truths of Parenting Special Needs Kids."

Find me on Facebook at Quirks and Chaos. Like what you read? Want to become a follower? Click on the Google Friend Following gadget on this blog. It's over on the right side and asks you to subscribe. Or you can add the URL (the web address in your search bar) to your Reading List. You can do that by clicking the plus sign in front of the URL. Thanks! 

No comments:

Post a Comment