May 22, 2011

Educating Alex - Overview

For the next two weeks I will be republishing the "Educating Alex" series I shared in 2009 and 2010. Since these are direct republishes there may be references to events I wrote about during that time period. There have been challenges and updates all year long, but I think it is worthwhile to revisit our educational history.


As promised, yesterday morning at High School announcements, it came across the speaker that Alex would be participating in the National Special Olympic Games in Lincoln, NE. I had expected that sharing this news with the entire student body would thrill Alex - but I was only partially right.

She did acknowledge she was "high fived" and wished luck all day. However, when I asked if she was excited about the kids knowing - she said that not everyone congratulated her. For most of us - the recognition of the majority of the student body and teachers would be enough - however for Alex - this means that a certain boy or a couple of boys - who are the current focus of Alex's attention - did not wish her luck. To be fair - I am sure these boys know they are the focus of Alex's attention, and I appreciate they set boundaries when relating to Alex.

Appropriate behavior with peers is very difficult for Alex. In some ways she seems so mature to me, so independent and so concerned about others - but in so many ways she is still developing. She does not understand the social norms of High School. It is one of our biggest challenges at school.

This brings me to the title of today's entry. Yesterday, I shared that I would talk about Alex's education. As I thought through this - I realized I cannot do this in one, two or even three days - I would bore you to tears. Instead, I think, a series of discussions over the next weeks and months would work best.

There are so many different aspects to educating a child with special needs that I get anxiety even thinking about what we have gone through. At this point, I have figured the following subsets would make sense - early intervention, the early years, team building, the IEP, K -5, middle school and high school. Probably not in that order and who knows - this may easily change.

By way of background, I should share, that we have had the dubious pleasure of attending two entirely different school districts. I assume and pray that is all the school districts we will sample. The first was a well funded and well resourced school district in a large suburban area. Currently, we attend a small, underfunded and under resourced school district in a rural area. I have had to learn to work within the system, as best I can. Although funding is nice - as are resources - we try to work with what we have - recognize the positives and attempt to change the negatives.

I do not want to leave the impression that this has been a struggle - sometimes it is - but often it is not. We have met caring and concerned educators and professionals in Alex's journey through the educational system, and we have met others who are not as caring. But, overall I believe, that with the right people and right services - Alex will succeed and will leave a positive impression on everyone who crosses her path. And that's part of our job as parents of this extraordinary girl.

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