Below is an excerpt from the blog "Flappiness Is" written by Leigh Merryday
I need to make a big apology. You see, I’ve been teaching now for fourteen years, but I have only just recently joined your ranks.
I didn’t know. Not even a clue. I thought, mistakenly, that having two special-needs children in my family made me more sensitive to your needs as a parent. It didn’t. And I’m so sorry for operating under the assumption that it did. I’m not attempting verbal self-flagellation here. I meant well. I knew a lot about autism and some about other special-needs conditions. I did care about your child. And I did want to do right by him. But, like a lot of teachers who Just Don’t Get It, I thought doing right by him meant giving him extra time on assignments and not allowing him to fail my class. I thought being extra nice and seating her at the front of the room was what you needed from me.
But you needed more. And I didn’t understand that. You needed communication. A lot of it. You needed me to understand your depth of worry. You needed me to understand that, if you’ve met one special-needs child, you’ve met one special-needs child. You needed me to understand that I was teaching your child, not an I.E.P. You needed to know, not assume, that I would go out on a limb to make sure your child’s needs were met all over the school and not just in my classroom. You needed to not worry that, when your back was turned, I was still doing everything that I promised as well as thinking of better ways to meet your child’s needs. You needed to talk about your child in meetings and not worry about the clock.
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