Give ‘Em More Credit… BELIEVE! — 5 Minutes for Special Needs

Give ‘Em More Credit… BELIEVE!

by Maggie



                               

You and I know, but does everyone else know? Our kids are smarter than we think. So much smarter than even we give them credit for. WAY smarter than what it says on their report card. And, smarter than any test can possibly measure. I know this… I KNOW IT! And, you know it too!

Graduating Kindergarten: The Big Little Man with the Principal, his gen-ed teacher, the classroom aide and his 2:1 aide.

I just wish everyone else — especially their teachers and the CSE administrators and the critical strangers that we sporadically run into who judge them so harshly — knew it in the same way. I wish these folks would sit for a moment and see all they know instead of focusing on what they have NOT achieved… YET!

For example:

I hate to shop… so I don’t. When I really need clothes for myself or the kids, I wait for the 30% off coupon from Kohl’s and I hit, not the store, but the laptop. This happens MAYBE two times a year… Maybe! But, when the plain cardboard box arrives with those five simple brown letters, they know EXACTLY what it says and they know EXACTLY what it is. “Look Mommy… ‘KOHL’S.’”(A word I never taught them… Why would I? I HATE to shop!) I ask, “Do you know what’s in there?”  And without hesitation, their reply, in concert, is “clothes!”

They also know the exact box size for a DVD. So, they recognize when I’ve purchased a new movie for them to watch before the box is even open. They can often even guess which movie it is based on the new-DVD-release advertisements they’ve seen recently on television.

They need only see a DVD once to know and memorize exactly what movie it is. Not the box with the pictures on it, but the plain picture-less silver disc with the teeny-tiny writing around the inside circle cut-out. Yes, they KNOW!

Even I didn’t know My BigLittle Man knew what a hockey puck was. Sure, he once watched a hockey game – over a year ago — with my communication-challenged husband who barely uttered a word of instruction during the fifteen minutes he sat cuddled safely under Daddy’s arm. But, when he saw a flattened, spherical object lying on the ground at the school, COMPLETELY out of context, he said, “Look, a PUCK!” He was 100% right!

Less than 20 minutes after receiving his new Wii Tangled game, My Little man had already made it to level three. He usually plays the Lego games… this was not like those. But you can be certain he had figured out all the complexities, the challenges, the treasure hunt, sword fighting and every other nuance of the game in short order.  Yes, My Big Little Man can play Wii with the best of them!

As the Old Soul showed her Big Little Brother her trombone book, he pointed at the picture on the cover and said, “No trombone. Is a flute!” (So what if we still have language delays. That doesn’t stop them from learning or communicating.) She looked at the photo of various wind instruments and saw he was absolutely right.” I didn’t know how he knew that!” she exclaimed. I didn’t either… We’ve never EVER talked about, listened to or looked at flutes. Perhaps Dora the Explorer? Who knows? HE DID! He went on to say that he wanted to learn to “play the sax!” Wow!

Last year’s special ed teacher and their OT tell me we need to work on letting them dress themselves, put on their own jackets, do more for themselves. (As if I don’t do so MOST of the time though certainly NOT as we rush out the door late for school again.) But, she’s never seen how quickly they disrobe, find their swim trumks and swim shirts, put them on EXACTLY right, don their swim goggles and jump into that pool when they get the go-ahead from Mommy!

Kindergarten Graduation: The Little Man, the Principal, his gen-ed teacher, classroom aide and his 2:1 aide (shared with his brother)

And, that same teacher, nor the swim instructor at the local pool, has ever seen My Big Little Man swim the entire length of the pool… UNDER WATER. Moving just like a frog. Scooping up dive toys from the bottom as he moves effortlessly through the water. Exhaling slowly through his nose as he rises up to the surface. No nose plug. No swallowing water.  And how about the near-perfect breast stroke My Little Man shows off when I congratulate his brother on his excellent swim skills.  They may not be comfortable floating on their backs but they can do the dead-man’s float long enough to make me worry they’re still breath-holding.

Few people have seen them read the store signs as we drive by Target, Wendy’s, McDonalds (we NEVER go there), Dunkin Donuts (been there four times in seven years), BounceU, Toys-R-Us, Taco Bell (a rare treat) and more. No matter where we’re driving… not just those stores we’ve been to!  But anywhere they spot them!

Or how about when they know which streets lead to their favorite playground, toy store or pizza place, or the way to get to their cousin’s house? As I pass each street, they yell for me to turn there, turn there, go to Uncle Barney’s house, etc.

They know where their breakfast bacon is; their cereal; they ask me to grill the hamburger instead of frying; how to get a cup, cover and straw, and pour themselves a cup of apple juice from the huge, gallon jug. They know where the dog treats are, how to get the stool to reach them, and to make sure the dog sits and gives his paw before he gets one. Yes, they’re fully functional. They’d survive!

They know ALL about animals, both wild and domestic – their habits, habitats, diet and care – because we have many (perhaps too many) pets. And, because we’re outdoorsy, camping, hiking, animal-loving kind of folk.

They can open the computer, navigate to the Amazon video library, select their favorite season and episode of iCarly or Victorious, full-size the screen and turn up the volume. My 10-year-old can’t do that! They navigate everything on the iPad flawlessly. And, they know how to select a specific DVD and pop it into any DVD player. That includes turning on the TV, sound system and hitting play, or doing so in the laptop, portable DVD player, car DVD player, and any other DVD player whether they’ve seen it before or not. They also seamlessly navigate to and within Netflix on the TV and iPad.

They surprise US — their champions — daily, with all they know and can do for themselves. All they know and can do… that other kids their age may or may not know or do. We parents KNOW our kids. We KNOW they are amazing! And, still, they surprise US! We know how much they’re capable of but rarely show us, let alone others. Imagine if their critics, their teachers, the administrators and the world would just stop and watch them for a moment… and give ‘em a little more credit!

My mantra:  Believe! No one can know the limitations of another!

 

Read more from Maggie at http://walkonthehappyside.wordpress.com.

Email Author    |    Website About Maggie

I've become a self-proclaimed novice in the pursuit of [my own] happiness and in finding pockets of peace amidst the chaos of raising my 7-year-old identical twin sons who were blessed with an extra 21st chromosome (aka. Down syndrome) and my beautiful daughter (ADD) who vacillates between being helpful and being 10.

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1 Janet July 31, 2012 at 10:45 am

My little dude (9 1/2) is an expert at acting dumb. He is non-verbal, so un-warned new teachers/therapists will fall for it. Then you see his smirkly little “I got you” grin. He is great at directions – so good that he will throw a fit miles from home if he thinks we are heading that way based on a turn (and he is always correct that we are heading that way – just maybe not to home, but another errand).

Thanks for sharing about your boys.

2 Maggie Mae August 1, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Thanks for reading, Janet. I’ve always believe there should be greater credit for functional intelligence than for academic intelligence. Drives me nuts when teachers overlook the practical knowledge of their students with special needs.

3 Jodi August 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I work as an SLP and often have moments of “I know that you know it – now would you just SHOW it!” It is an ongoing struggle to find ways to get children to do the things they are capable of in the sometimes low context environment of school.

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