Sometimes it still amazes me how much people are focused on the procedure when dealing with someone with a disability and not looking at the abilities of the individual. Basically, I am saying I want to be treated like everybody else. But there are some rare occasions that I wish people would notice my disability and act accordingly.
Enter My Junior Year of High School
For example, in my junior year of high school we had my annual beginning of the year IEP meeting. For those that don’t know, it is like a State of the Union where goals and objectives are laid out for the entire year. I was informed that in order to graduate I would have to take Driver’s Ed. Just so you know, I have virtually no movement of my arms, my legs, my torso and I can’t move my head at will. Not only that, but I have NO peripheral vision! You would think that these deficiencies would preclude me from driving. Right?
In my mind it was a foregone conclusion, I will never be able to drive in any capacity and with any modifications it would be dangerous. I thought this was pretty clear to anyone who knew me. In fact, let’s take this a step further, even anyone who saw me. When they said I needed to take Drivers Ed to further my academic career, I thought they were joking. They weren’t. So now we (myself and my parents) had to prove to them, that these expectations were impossible and just plain foolish. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to look at a student’s abilities!
Teachers, Therapists, Superintendents, OH MY!
This would not be an easy task. In order to prove our case, we felt the best way was to focus on my physicality. To do that, we had to bring in my own doctors. If there is one thing I learned, when you bring in the medical profession, they tend to be heard much louder than me. Oddly enough that didn’t quite work. It was still a guideline from the state of Illinois. They felt that I should at least be able to tell someone how to drive. (I am pretty good at telling people what to do. Ha!)
We had to continue to bring in experts. We brought in teachers, therapists, superintendents, and other assorted muckety mucks. This tug of war went on for months. It got to the point where depositions needed to be taken. Seriously? Yes, seriously! We must have had 20 meetings that spanned 6 months. Finally in April they saw the light. Perhaps maybe someone with no use of their arms and legs should not be put behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. This was such a waste of time. Maybe it wouldn’t have been such a waste if they only looked at my abilities from the get go!
The moral of this story is that when you are working with someone with special needs, you can’t just rubber stamp everything and you can’t let the red tape get in the way of helping the specific individual.
Rollin’ to a town near you!
P.S. Want to learn more about how Mike and Tim can share their story with YOUR group? Let’s Talk!