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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You Have Got to Have Friends

When we knew Teale finally made it into The School of the Holy Childhood, we were so excited! We had heard, unlike the other programs she had been in, that at SHC, friendships are made. Teale hasn't had a "real girlfriend or a true close friend" ever. She has had typical kids who care about her. She has had families who have embraced her. She has had adults who care deeply and give us breaks by being a companion for Teale. Teale has been loved, don't get me wrong! She sucks in more people than anyone I have ever met. She brings us the gift of friends. More than anything else, Teale connects Mark and I to many, many people. The diversity of people I have met because of her is astonishing. But sadly, Mark and I have struggled to do the same for her. We have not found her one close peer, not one kid who we could call for a play date on a regular basis. It has been a heartache for us like nothing else. To watch Teale alone, to see her entertain herself day after day. She sees her siblings invited to parties, to sleepovers, kids come here for them. The doorbell rings, but never is it a peer for Teale. The phone rings, but not once has anyone ever said, "Is Teale home?" Until today, today the mother who called said, "Hi, this is....my daughter wants to talk to Teale." I hesitated, after all, Teale is not great on the phone, her hearing loss makes phone conversations difficult. Teale benefits from seeing a person and their facial expressions when talking to them. She picks up so much more language from faces and from speech reading than a hearing person. Besides that her ability to stay with a conversation on the phone is poor. As I said, I hesitated, but then I explained and said, "We can give it a try." Thank goodness I did! Teale was so happy to hear her friend's voice. Sure the conversation wasn't fluid, but it was FANTASTIC! The laughter, the smiles, the excitement was one of the most special things I have ever witnessed. The "conversation" went on for about five or ten minutes and I have been on cloud nine since. You see, Teale's new school has privacy policies also, as we experienced in other schools. We are not able to get a phone list from the school, which makes it tough to connect my "special" daughter to others. She is not going to give out her phone number or get a friends number. Teale isn't capable of having a conversation with her friends like a typical almost 13 year old to arrange a get together. This frustration has followed us for the last two years, we cannot just call a parent of a child in Teale's class and arrange a play date for her. So, for open house I made a flier up with Teale's picture, her interests and her phone number. No one ever said I couldn't give out my phone number! But open house was not well attended by her class, therefore not many of my fliers made it into the correct hands. Teale's Birthday is Friday and we are having a pizza lunch at her school for her. This way all the kids will be there. Many travel far for school and we didn't think at this time of year they would travel to us for a party. I wanted the families to know we were celebrating Teale's Birthday this way and why. More importantly, I wanted the families to know that we are a family who wants to connect. So our flier and a sheet explaining her birthday lunch went home with each child today. We want Teale to have social opportunities and we are willing to do just about anything to give her this. Shortly after Teale got home from school, her girlfriend from her class called. To me it was a small miracle. It was a sign of hope that maybe we finally will give Teale the gift she has given us over and over again. I guess we aren't the only family trying to make connections for our daughter. I just know this is the start of something very special.

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