My daughter is…
Autism. It’s ONE word out of 15 that I chose to describe my angel. JUST ONE.
D’s diagnosis of autism doesn’t tell you who she is, what she likes, or what she doesn’t. It doesn’t tell you that her smile will brighten the darkest of days or that her laughter is the music that my soul dances to.
Why this, now? Well, I received a copy of D’s IEP and while reading it today I was brought tearfully to my knees with it’s language.
“D isn’t… D can’t…. D doesn’t…”
My mother’s heart bleeds.
I know that my sweet girl has challenges. I know that she struggles to communicate with her peers. I know that she sometimes can be overwhelmed. None of this is new to me. What is new to me is the callous, cruel focus; the word “can’t” in relation to my daughter. See, in this house, there is no “can’t.” There is not yet. There is hope. There is the will to never give up, never give in.
There is love. Unconditional, unyielding, unshakable love for the person that D is now and will become. I don’t care what the textbooks say she should be. I’m not raising a textbook. I’m raising a precious little girl to, I hope, be unafraid to be herself, to pursue her highest potential and be strong enough to stand against the winds that life inevitably blows.
Life with autism isn’t always easy. There are days, like today, when it can bring me to knees. There are far more days when I am in awe of D’s uncrushable spirit, her determination, her desire to learn.
No matter what the day brings, one thing remains the same: I am proud of D. I am proud to be her mom. No one can take that from me, or from her.
So, to whomever D’s IEP, I realize that it’s your “job” to point out D’s challenges so that goals can be made to work on them in the coming year. I don’t fault you for that. What I DO find fault with is that the entire focal point of this document was on what needs improvement. The next time you write an IEP, for D- or any other child- remember something, please. That document is more to a parent than just a clinical piece of paper. What and how you write can help or it can hurt. Do your job, but remember that there is so much MORE to the child you are writing about than a diagnosis.
So much more.