Updated: Jun 2, 2022
I feel it is quite safe to say no matter your level of schooling or education, no one will ever know your child better than you. No matter the severity of their disabilities, no specialist is going to know better than you what they are capable of doing. How though without all those years of knowledge do we even begin to know where to set the bar? Without that cookie cutter system set up that neurotypical children have can we measure progress?
When your child is Neuro Typical where to set the achievement bar is pretty easy. There are milestone charts for every age of when they should be doing x, y, and z. It is easy to see when they go off track and tried and true practices to get them back where they need to be. The public school conveyor belt is equipped to carry them on down the line, measure their progress, and fix any deviations.
When your child is Neuro Diverse however, the lines get a bit blurred. We accept our kids for who they are and all the unique abilities. We also have to figure out how to get our square pegs to fit in the round holes of life. A difficult task to be sure, but one that is necessary since the world is either not ready or unwilling to adapt to meet the needs of everyone.
With so many conditions, disorders and degrees of severity there isn't even the ability to have a chart just for our community. You know the saying "If you know one person with Autism, you know ONE person with Autism" the same can be said about every other condition. Such as.
I see in online support groups this habit of feeling sorry for our children and the rough road they will have to travel. This gives way to us giving in to every tantrum and making excuses for their behaviors. It is an easy trap to fall into, but we do our children an injustice not preparing them for the real world. While I do cut my son some slack I have learned the difference between a true meltdown and a temper tantrum typical of any child.
I've seen the statistics and I know that once he turns 18 the courts, the police, and the world won't/don't care what diagnosis's your child has and it won't stop them from arresting them or throwing them in jail.
When we chose to homeschool it hit me in the face hard, just how much my child had been failed by the public school. We did lots of testing/evaluating to see where he actually was and what we needed to do, to get him to a level that he is ready for high school or college when its time.
I had to throw out those preconceived notions that have been drilled in us our entire lives that your kid has to know this particular thing by this specific age. We are meeting him where he is and pushing him at a pace that is challenging, without being overwhelming. We are finding specific history and science curriculums he is interested in that can double as language arts lessons in a sneaky way.
I know this can be a more difficult feat depending on the severity of your child's disabilities. It can be done. You have to forget what has always been the norm, and forge your own path. Do what works, find their passions, push them as hard as you know they can be pushed, and never give up, they will always surprise you.
I learned that the bar is set where ever it needs to be for each child individually. More often than not one persons goals will look nothing like anyone else's. It is an individual journey and we much treat it as so. The most important thing we can do is prepare our children to enter the real world, and equip them with as many tools as we can to go into the battle that is life. We can't just throw in the towel or try to make things "easier" because they were dealt a bum hand. This world no matter how much we advocate and how much we fight isn't going to change anytime soon. We set the bar for specifics skills for our kids so they can survive when they leave the safety of home for the real world.
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