Even though we knew our son would benefit from special education services, we still weren’t prepared for the bittersweet heartbreak that came with hearing the words “Your child qualifies for special education.”
Reading the results on paper was like a punch in the gut – our son is almost three years old, but he’s functioning at a 15 – 16 month level in some areas.
As parents, we’ve worked hard to make sure our son has what he needs to grow and learn. I quit my job of 13 years to stay at home with him and be his full-time teacher and advocate. He receives therapy regularly. We are intentional with our playtime and often incorporate therapy and teaching strategies into our everyday routine.
It was hard not to take it personally.
But, we remember that three years ago, doctors told us our son born at 23 weeks gestation only had a 4% chance of healthy survival. We remember how small he was when he was born and how hard he fought to live and we are in awe of his progress.
There are five things I’m trying to keep in mind as my son starts special education preschool this fall:
- Your son is going to love preschool! He will meet new friends and try new things.
- Your son is going to be just fine without his mama by his side. The staff is capable and caring.
- It’s not your fault. You are a good teacher and a good mother. It’s still ok to be sad.
- Special education services will offer an incredible opportunity for your son to learn and grow. He will get the support he needs to learn. He will acquire strategies now that will help him in school later.
- Your child is so much more than a kid with developmental delays. He loves making people laugh, he is constantly exploring and being curious, he shows empathy – these things will take him far in life.
Even though I'm sad that my child has delays and needs special education services, I can't wait to see the excitement on his face when he walks through those big school doors on the first day. I can't believe my baby is starting school!