Friday, January 11, 2013

mr(s). cellophane...

"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'.

It's frustrating.

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.


Mister Cellophane
Shoulda been my name
Mister Cellophane
'Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there..."

Title Inspiration:
Chicago:  Mr. Cellophane


  1. Yes. Absolutely yes. A great post. Not great that Emma is going through this. But I totally get what you're saying and I hear you. I was actually composing a post in my head last night about being trasported back to the insecurities of middle school and high school. I'm 44, yet it is still so easy to bring back all those feelings I had as an adolescent girl (yuck). Haven't written it yet. Maybe I'll sort it out one of these days and get it out of my head. If I don't forget what I wanted to say. :)

    1. <3! thanks so much monica! i remember all to clearly the insecurities of my youth... over the years i have worked so hard to 'get past them'. but every now and then - they sneak in... and i tell myself - 'stop!' *sigh* (why don't we 'forget' those things?) ;)

  2. Having spent my school years torn between wishing I could be invisible and wishing I could be heard...yes, I know what you mean. I think your advocating for your girl this way is insightful of you. And of those who don't hear, don't understand, don't want to try something new; it is a kind of willful ignorance or amnesia of what being a child who is different might be like.

    1. hi kermommy - thank you so much for reading! i think you are correct - often as adults, we forget what it's like to be a child... regardless of 'wiring'. more and more, i hear the pain in my girls voice as she becomes aware of her lack of personal friendships.

  3. Keep pushing. Because you're right.

    When I find myself struggling to advocate (either for my girls or for myself) I try to step back and ask myself 'if this were one of my girls, what advice would I give them?' and then I *try* to follow it. It's a process, but for whatever reason I find it much easier to analyze when it's not me, so that's the best advice I've got.

    But back to the beginning ...

    Keep pushing. Because you're right.



  4. hi jess - thanks so much! it's always nice to hear you are on the right track. somedays, it's exhausting though... especially when you are sitting in a room with seven other people looking at you with blank faces as you go on and on about how you're more interested in your child's social progress over her academic progress.

    but yes, i will keep pushing! thanks again. :)

  5. this was a good post, Jennifer. I liked it.

  6. Yes, yes completely to it. We've worked hard with our school to make sure that social skills groups aren't just the kids with the "issues", and that true inclusion means everyone. And truth be told many "typical" kids need the same tools, just presented differently. Our school does a lunch bunch and my son gets to invite someone with him from his gen ed classroom for these reasons. Keep pushing them because it's the right thing to do.

    1. alysia - i am envious of your 'lunch bunch'. something similar to this has been talked about in the past, but there never seems to be any follow through - or, that the 'lunch bunch' would take place in a segregated room. to me that seems to be one more way to shine a light on differences... not increase inclusion.

      i wold love to hear more about your 'lunch bunch' program!

  7. A long time ago I was a teacher. And we used cooperative learning as a technique because research at the time said that if you paired kids of differing abilities together it strengthened both.

    1. dixie - i completely agree. cooperative learning is an excellent tool - not only for the child who may 'need' assistance, but also for the child 'giving' assistance.