Sunday, July 26, 2015

Expectations v Limitations

“Fundamentally, the problem that students with disabilities face in schools is that people have such low expectations for what they can achieve.” - Barb Trader

This quote struck me on Facebook.  It was an enticement blurb to the article "No Child Left Behind’s One Big Achievement?  Some advocates say the notorious law actually improved outcomes for special-ed students—and they fear that Congress's rewrites to the law could put an end to that progress." (If you are so inclined, click here for the article.)

I think that this past year has made me even more aware of the hard balance between accepting differences (with possible limitations) and setting high expectations.  I think it is a struggle of every parent for every child, but I am feeling it even greater now with Matthew. 

A few concerns haunting my thoughts, highlighting this difficult balance, in reverse order:

#3.  Neighborhood soccer v. Miracle League baseball
A few months ago, we drove past our soccer fields on game day and Matthew said "I wanna do".  I know he would love to play sports. 

So, I am struggling with the idea of signing him up for soccer in the neighborhood with his typical peers.  I worry-- mainly about his delay and his size.  What if he doesn't fit in with his teammates?  What if he is a burden to the coach? What if his communication delays get in the way?  And I'm embarrassed to admit this worry->  What if someone makes fun of him?

As an alternative, he could do baseball with the Miracle League.  With this choice, I have none of the concerns I have with soccer, as it is a league for kids with special needs. But with this decision, I worry I am setting my expectations for Matthew (and possibly the rest of society) too low.  Does he really need to play sports in a special needs only group? 

Matthew running to base at the reunion softball game.

#2.  After school care for the upcoming school year
Ugh, this decision is making me batty.  I think the two options for Matthew's after school care are these: 1.  go to the Y after school with the big kids or 2.  go to the daycare he has been attending. 

The Y is the more fiscally sound choice and all 3 kids would be together making pick up much easier.  My concerns are that they don't know Matthew (they don't love him yet), the ratio of child/adult is higher and he would be one of the youngest kids there, and likely the smallest. Sending Matthew to the Y, I have the same worries as I do with soccer in the neighborhood.  What if he doesn't fit in?  What if he is a burden to the leaders? What if his communication delays get in the way?  And I'm (still) embarrassed to admit this worry->  What if someone makes fun of him?

Alternatively, we could send him to daycare after school where they do know him and love him.  It is substantially more expensive and would require 2 pick ups at the end of the day, but I don't have the same worries.  But, again, are my expectations for Matthew (and the rest of society, maybe) too low?  Can he not be accepted and cared for in a new environment with typical kids?

#1.  Kindergarten
I don't think there is really a decision to be made about this topic, but I am terribly anxious about Matthew starting kindergarten in a month.  With Jackson and Alyssa, I knew they were ready for kindergarten when they walked into public school.  In Jackson's case, we waited a year until he was ready.  They have done well.  In Matthew's case, I know he isn't ready.   I have no idea what that means for this year and for the long term.

I struggle with what it means to have realistically high expectations for Matthew for this year.  Would it be that Matthew goes into kindergarten this year, with his typical peers? Would it be holding him back in pre-k, with peers closer to his developmental level?  Do we expect Matthew to catch up to his typical peers? Do we expect him to keep pace with his younger peers? Do we expect him to fall further behind?  I think that the unanswered question causing me the most angst -- is Matthew delayed (meaning he'll catch up if held back) or is he disabled (meaning he will fall further and further behind)?  If I knew the answer to that, I feel like I would know the right course of action as it pertains to school (holding back or social promotion) and the expectations v. limitations continuum.  But in a circular loop, I won't know the answer to that until long after decisions are made and those decisions very well may impact the answer.  
For this and for all of these concerns, I guess time will tell.  Until then, we will strive for high expectations and adjust accordingly once limitations are encountered. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Trip

I recently read an article about taking a trip versus taking a vacation.  When you travel with children, I think it is likely more of a continuum: KCOTR (kid care on the road) to TRIP (fun with a heavy dose of reality) to VACAY (woo-hoo, a break from the every day)!  

This year's summer travel was a jaunt to northern Minnesota for our family reunion, which happens every 5 years.  It was a great week with 139 other fun-loving family members and a wonderful time to reflect on just how far we've come in the last 5 years.  Though there were some rocky moments during the 5 days in the car, it was dramatically easier than the travel 5 years ago.  And the reunion itself was infinitely more relaxing than the KCOTR of 5 years ago.  I would venture to even say it was a TRIP.  In 5 more years, I expect that the next reunion will feel like a VACAY! 

144 people in attendance at the 2015 reunion

We had fun with cousins

Doing anything and nothing

Jackson struggled to get up on the board, but LOVED it once he did

Matthew with cousin Ashley were too cute!

Jackson enjoyed talking Pokémon with cousin Kyle

At the turtle races, Matthew was telling his turtle she was going the wrong way

We have this picture (no Matthew and smaller Hoy kids) from 5 years ago

We had fun playing softball, volleyball and ...
playing on the beach

We celebrated Jackson's 8th birthday with cake...

and the Minions movie.

And we made it home safe and sound.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer Fun

I am still astonished by how smoothly this summer has gone, so far.  Not that it has been all rainbows and sunshine, but overall, it has been pretty spectacular. 

Surprisingly the boys got along really well when Alyssa was at camp.

I enjoyed my mother/sons dates.

Matthew has really been enjoying toys this summer. 
I reorganized the playroom and he has taken full advantage of the 'new-to-him' toys.

I have relished my pleasure reading.

I loved my fantastic one-on-one time with Jack-Jack.

He seemed to enjoy the one-on-one time too-- especially at the movies.
We are thankful to have the daughter home after her 3 week camp adventure.

We have had some fun at the library.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy riding bikes with these kiddos.
I look at the calendar and am a bit saddened that the summer seems to be flying by much too quickly.  Only six more weeks to go for me, seven for the kids.  Wow!