When My Daughter Was Finally Included in the 'Typical' Classroom
This morning my daughter put on a new dress, shiny leggings and sparkly purple shoes. She brushed her hair and added the perfect headband to accent her outfit. She filled her backpack with notebooks, folders and pens and slung it over her shoulder. From the outside looking in this experience would look like any other first day of school, but it isn’t.
Today is the culmination of seven IEP meetings.
Today is the result of many sleepless nights and 13 hours and 17 minutes of face-to-face advocacy. Today is the result of learning terms like “least restrictive environment” and acronyms like “ESY” and “IDEA.” Today is the day that for the first time in two years my daughter will set foot in a “typical” classroom.
And today is a day I hope kindness reigns.
I hope her teachers are kind. I hope they see and appreciate the twinkle in her eye as she learns. I hope they understand that she is different from her peers but deserving. I hope they see the limitless potential I do, and work to help her unlock it. I hope, even in her absence of words, they see how much she can bring to a discussion and encourage her to share. I hope they see the beauty of her strengths and help her apply them to belong.
I hope the students are kind. To her, and to each other. I hope they ask questions rather than stare, and come to know her for the wonder that she is. I hope she comes to know them, too. And I hope they all realize how much they have to gain from one another. Because together their classroom is whole.
I hope the value of kindness connects them and that this classroom is the place my daughter learns she is more than a diagnosis or a perceived disability. I hope this is where the foundation of success is laid, and where she comes to realize that she, alongside her peers, will change this world.
I hope kindness unites them all, and propels my sweet girl forward.
Getty image by dolgachov