Monday, November 19, 2012

Including Inclusion

In Tuesday's post, "My Welch's Man", Ryan was having lunch troubles.  They're solved for now, but the solution wasn't what I thought.  Apparently the brand-switch was so much too much that he now does not want any jelly or jam on his sandwich.  Just peanut butter, please.

Alrighty then.

I have asked several times if there's anything else he'd like to have in his lunch.  He's not talking.  The only way I knew about the peanut butter thing was the classroom aid, Ms. K.  I know lots of kids don't tell their parents much, but this is different.  With Ryan, with so many special needs kids, it's an inability to express it.

This morning, he worked so hard to formulate the correct way to tell us he'd like to see my sister and her husband.  Usually, he asks to go to aunt Bree's wedding.  That was great, but they're married now.  So then he'd ask for "unkla city" or to go on I-44.

Make no mistake.  This kid is paying attention all the time.  An inability to effectively communicate does not mean there's nothing in his head.  It just means we, he included, have to work so much harder to get it out.  It means we have to pay extra attention.

It also means that we have to be diligent about inclusion.

That's one of those education-ese words I learned in education classes in college.  Another one of those terms to which I wish I'd given more attention.  Everything you hear about inclusion is school oriented. It comes with alphabet soup like IEP, ARD, BIP, PPCD, and all these other crazy clumps of letters you wade through with glazed eyes in college classes.

Then it's your child.

Then you wish you could have all those classes that you're still paying for back.

The thing they don't tell you is that one of these things might have bearing on your life later.  They don't tell you that.  It's always about the kids you'll deal with in the classroom.  And honestly, some of the things I learned came in handy once or twice.  I sat in a few ARD meetings, gave input for some IEP's, and had to follow a bunch of them myself.

But when they're all looking at you in the meeting, it's a different story.

It's a different story when your son is screaming and crying for help like he's been put on the rack because he has a loose tooth.

It's a different story when he's shaking and crying and beating his head and chest because of something you honestly can't discern.

And when everyone starts looking at you for the answers.  Yes, when they start looking at you saying things like "tell me about Ryan" right before you're to leave him with them for an hour in a room full of other children.

It's then when panic sets in.  I can't talk, think, or relate fast enough.  Try as you might, there is no pouring Niagara Falls through a drinking straw.  We have to try.  We have to.  But it's just hard.

For so long we've wondered, agonized, prayed, stewed, and hurt for ourselves and everyone who goes through this.  Because it's important.  Just too important.

He hears.  He learns.  He files away things we had no idea he heard, although he doesn't talk about much.  We don't know what he's retaining.  But we know there's nothing wrong with his hearing, he can read, and every now and again we catch a glimpse of what he's catching when we weren't looking.

He's not the only one.

That's why we'll work to make sure he's counted.  He needs to be around his peers, and not just at school.

Inclusion applies, even to especially to church.  No child should be turned away.  No leader, of infants to hundred-year-old adults, should be content only teaching to the ones who look, talk, behave, communicate, dress, or sin just like us.  The mere thought of a child or adult being turned away at the door of a church or church classroom should break our hearts and move us to action.

Action can be hard.  It will likely be messy.  There will be trial and error, reading and listening, talking and thinking.  There will be a lot of praying.

But it is worth it.  Actually, it's beyond worth it.  It is essential.

It is obedience.

Ryan snuggling in church following a successful time in CE (Christian Education... akin to Sunday school), but not before making it through a meltdown between the two.  It's not always easy, folks... but as Jesus said, "let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."   (Matthew 19:14)

Not the ones who dress like you.

Not the ones who behave acceptably.

Not the ones who can communicate effectively.

Not the ones who come clean and tidy.

Not the ones who are easy to handle.

All of them.

Thanks be to God for all-encompassing grace and love, and for hearts that believe in it enough to carry it to the ends of the earth, starting in their own backyards.

1 comment:

  1. I was out shopping the other day when a family entered the store. I noted their presence because their 4(?) year old son was screaming and whining while being pushed around in a shopping cart. Just when that critical spirit rose up in my heart, I thought of you and Ryan - and God reminded me that this situation could involve a 'differently-abled' child and behavioral outcomes are not necessarily the result of faulty parenting. ("Besides," I told myself - "Your experience of shopping with a cranky child is incredibly don't judge.")

    Thank you for all the reminders to show grace and love on your blog. It's so easy to allow social expectations to effect our ability to love others.


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