Author: Karen Copeland
If you have been following my blog over the last year and a bit you will be aware that we removed our son from public bricks and mortar school in 2015. It is fair to say we were filled with anxiety about making this decision, wondering what that would mean for our family and our son to have him at home full time. As I explained in my post “Absolutely, Yes”, we were able to put a team in place that recognized where our son was at and gave us the opportunity to support him in the way he needed (and deserved).
The past year and a half has brought so many positive changes our way. We have seen our son return to a state of being that is calm, curious and slightly more confident. We have provided our son with the opportunity to discover his voice matters, that he has agency and this has changed his responses. Don’t get me wrong, we certainly still have challenges, but they are fewer and do not last long before his trust in us allows him to calm.
I remember his principal in grade five telling me that if we could get everyone on board with our son expressing himself and responding to his needs, we would start to see a change. Because when we know we are going to be heard, when we trust that people will take care of our needs first without penalizing us for how we express it, we DO change.
Our current special education teacher has reinforced this message to us over the past year and we are reaping the benefits. And it makes sense, really. Think of a time where your voice was dismissed, a time when what you were trying to communicate was disregarded. How did you feel? How did you respond? Now, imagine if this happened to you daily… Hourly… That no matter how hard you tried you could not meet the expectations being placed on you. How might you feel then? How might you respond?
We have had to learn this as parents. We still have moments where control and compliance sneak in, but we catch ourselves and retreat. Or son needs us to honor his voice and we are committed to doing this for him. He deserves this from us.
So, when he approached me one evening and quietly said he’d like to try going back to school, I needed to listen to him. We owe it to him to follow his lead and look at options, even though my own anxiety tries to overtake my rational thought. I combat this by constantly telling myself this is not about me, it is about my son and what he is telling me he needs. I can’t hold him back because I am scared or worried. And when I take time to really think about just how much things have changed over this time out of school, I know this is the next step. We need to keep moving forward.
And so, we are on the path for return to school. I will be my son’s most amazing advocate and be clear about what he needs and how this can happen. I will also help him find the words he needs in order to be able to do the same. We will be intentional and cautious and patient. We are moving forward. It is scary, and yet at the same time, exciting. I am hopeful for the coming year and what it might bring.
And in those moments of uncertainty I will remind myself to trust in the process. To believe in good intentions and curiousity. To know we have provided our son with the opportunity to be who he needs to be and celebrate this. I promise to boss back my anxiety and remind myself this isn’t about me. It’s about my son and what he needs.
It always has been. He deserves this.