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Saturday, June 25, 2011

You Got to Have Friends

 School of the Holy Childhood sent a social story in the mail today to my daughter Teale. The story had PICTURES & NAMES of teachers & kids Teale will be in class with. This is to help her feel less anxious about the change in schools she will be going through this summer.  For those of you that don't know, a social story has simple text & pictures to help children with special needs through a new or difficult situations. Sometimes Social Stories give ideas about how to deal with a situation differently than how the child has been. Sometimes it is a story to teach/model appropriate behavior. In this case the story just illustrates some key people Teale will be with in her new school. As I flipped through the simple story with her, I felt overcome by emotion. This is so different from the HIPAA law excuses I was fed last year concerning inquiries about connecting us to other families in her classroom. We couldn't get a friendship list and there was not a class picture or a yearbook. Inviting kids to her Birthday party was allowed, through the school only though and only two kids came. I never received notice from the families who didn't come. I never could follow up with them with a phone call asking if they just forgot because I was not allowed phone numbers. My daughter can not communicate with her peers in a way other 12 year olds can. She can not say to a peer, "Hey, have your Mom call mine so I can have you over." She doesn't know her phone number or how to use a phone. Teale counts on Mark and I to connect her to others in this world. For the most part I would say Mark and I have failed badly at giving Teale friends. It is not for lack of trying, there are many factors involved, but my frustration with her last school was the lack of understanding they had at how important it is to connect these kids and families. Often families like mine feel alone, until they make a strong connection to another family like their own. Mark and I are lucky to have many good friends who get our life, but Teale has few friends. She has no close friends like an average 12 year old would. Mark and I are her best friends along with her sister and brother.  Anyway, after looking through the social story a few times and teasing her a bit about the adorable boy in her class. I then took Teale onto the SHCH FB page to look at pictures again. We have done this several times before. I have also taken her onto their website and both Mark & I have driven her to the school just to look at it from the outside. She has visited twice, the first time we ended the visit early because her anxiety kicked in. The second time she laughed with peers, which we found astonishing! She also smirked at us with a twinkle in her eye when we asked about her second visit! Today as we looked at the pictures, Teale said "It'll be fun!" She is finally understanding this change coming & seems to be excited! There is no way for Teale to feel even half as thrilled as Mark & I do. We have finally found our daughter a community where she will be loved and respected for who she is. We know this is the place for Teale. We are confident in it being a very special community where great things happen.  But even more importantly a place for Teale to finally have the opportunity to develop social skills in a natural setting that hopefully leads to her having real friendships!

3 comments:

  1. Hi Ellen, I recently found your blog and have been enjoying reading your stories. Teale is truly a special girl! I will keep her in my prayers as she begins this next journey. The School of the Holy Childhood is a very special place.

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  2. Oh Ellie! I am so excited for you and Teale! This must feel like coming out of solitary confinement. A whole new world is opening up for her!

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  3. Michelle, Thank you for the prayers. As Beau said yesterday, we know she will be happy, but there is a fear we are wrong & will look like fools!!!

    Jan, HIPAA is not about making school connections, it is a medical privacy protection. All schools have forms for parents to wave their privacy and share information OR not, if they chose. I just wanted the opportunity to make friends for Teale. We did kinda get around it by making a picture, information sheet on Teale and handing it out at open house. But not many families went to open house. The other thing is there are not social groups, a parent group or Special Olympics at her old school, SHCH has all of these and more. If Teale had had to stay @ her old school, I would have been one of the parents fighting for more!

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