"A human being's made of more than air
With all that bulk, you're bound to see him there
Unless that human bein' next to you
Is unimpressive, undistinguished
You know who..."
Have you ever had those days, the ones that regardless what you've said... how you've said it... it seems as if it no one hears what you've said? Or worse yet - your 'audience' hears it, but glances over it as if what you said isn't consequential at all.
C'est la vie - Such is life.
Or should it be?
The other day I attended Emma's IEP review. They tend to be rather lengthy, with all sides interjecting and adding to the conversation. This one even more so, as we needed to discuss the results of her evaluations and her upcoming medication trial. However, as we came to the part about socialization in Emma's IEP, soon I was a voice standing on my own. I knew I hadn't broad-sided the team with my requests or inquiries, as my IEP input form clearly stated:
"There have been so many strides taken towards academic accommodations for Emma - for this I am truly appreciative. Year after year however, I feel like a broken record. Socially - yes, socially - Emma is missing a very large component. Only part of the child is being educated. She is completely lacking in any type of social contact with her peers. Someone once told me: 'Being friendly and being a friend are two completely different things.' Emma needs a friend!
Imagine going to an event where you know everyone, yet no one talks to you with the exception of the polite hello or chit chat. This is everyday for her.
Peer mentoring is such a valid form of education - for both a special needs and a NT child. It doesn't hamper either's education, rather enriches it. I just feel that there are situations where peer mentoring would be beneficial, and would allow other students to get to know her better... to foster some relationships. She really just wants to be a little girl."
Yes, after a few shaky starts, discussions began - but I don't know if anyone really 'heard' what I had requested. No, you cannot 'force' children to create friendships, but you can create opportunities for children to work together. Instead of always pairing the children with a disability together (is it easier?) - shuffle the deck... pair them with their 'typical' friends... allow them opportunity to form new friendships. One isn't exercising 'inclusion', if at every turn one is drawing invisible lines of 'exclusion'.
As a 'neuro-typical' adult, I'm supposed to be able to handle situations where I'm misunderstood or not heard at all. Let's just say, it's hard... I don't. Over the years, I have developed a much thicker skin, and have tried to adopt the theory of the duck: Let it roll off. But, it's hard - it's really hard when you want to contribute to a group... when you want to have your voice heard, and it falls on deaf ears. Why? How quickly one can be transported back to the cliches and insecurities of middle school and high school.
So, I look at my girl, and I think - if I have such a difficult time with this... how must it be for her? So often she doesn't speak up. So often she doesn't share her feelings. How can I help her be the duck when sometimes I find it difficult myself.
Shoulda been my name
'Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there..."
Chicago: Mr. Cellophane