I used to consider raising our child with special needs emotionally and physically manageable. But the “easier” early years slowly turned into years that felt like we were living in the wilderness. In spite of the love and frequent happiness we had with our boy, there came very difficult moments which turned into weeks, months, years. Behaviors and sickness developed in him; exhausting our every resource and emotional reservoir.
Attending school IEP meetings are a necessity for a parent who has a child with any kind of special need. Anker and I approach the meetings with much prayer cover, and walk away from them feeling a little successful and a little beaten down. A good portion in the history of our annual meetings include experiences of anxiety, school politics, frustration, and the inner pressure to keep our cool. I have often thought we should create, “I survived our child’s IEP meeting” t-shirts.
Today’s meeting was different. Within the opening minutes I had already burst into tears. I held A.J.’s 11th grade school picture up to the IEP team; his eyes crinkled from his huge smile. His teachers and therapists around the table swooned at his handsome happy image. This is how they perceive him every day at school.
“He is so happy, polite, and a leader. None of the previous behavior concerns have been an issue for months. We want to develop him as a teacher assistant: making copies, picking up and delivering mail, greeting office staff,” Miss June told the IEP team.
More encouraging words were announced as we were told his long-term substitute teacher has officially been offered the teaching position. June is a dynamic teacher. She is a rare gem in a pool of special education teachers. She instinctively understands our kids, expects great things from the students every day, and gets tremendous growth from them in return.
Through a series of bumps, politics, and teacher turn-over, our kids have suffered from the lack of consistent quality teaching. When our kids suffer at school, boy do we suffer at home! So, we have been praying specifically for June. Last year when she was released from the substitute position, we continued to pray the Lord would make a way for her in the classroom. Our special kids deserve such a gem in their lives.
We wrote letters to school officials, put her on our prayer lists, and we waited…waited…waited. At the moment I heard the words, “The position is June’s if she will accept it”, my tears flowed without warning. My lips quivered as I attempted to express our joy. One of the educational officials, always professional in her demeanor, fought back her own tears as she listened to our gratitude. “What a testimony,” the speech therapist added.
I was surprised a bit by the instant flow of tears on display. Deep within my spirit, I was praising and bowing to the Lord. The tears continue to drop as I reflect upon today’s meeting. In my absolute trust of the Lord, I knew I could ask Him specifically for a request, and trust that He could provide. At the same time, He gave me faith that all would be well. All would be well, even if A.J. had to experience another change of teachers. But I would keep on knocking on God’s door; asking specifically for June.
Now God, in His perfect way, has provided a beautiful gift for us. We have one less obstacle to maneuver and one less change to endure. He knows what is best for us and He knows when we need a break! Thank you, Jesus, for providing our family relief!
I mentioned earlier that raising our boy with special needs used to be somewhat easy, and then it became difficult… very difficult. As I reflect on the growth of our boy over the last two years, I can now say we are living with a new “easy.” God has made a roadway in our wilderness. He does provide rivers in our dessert.
This new place of living is where we have gained new coping tools, and effective behavior management. We have found contentment in our unexpected lifestyle. This is a refreshing place.
“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the dessert” Isaiah 43:18-19