Along with the sparks of fireworks, the dust of the school year has settled and we’re all going about our summer routines. The end of the school year undoubtedly brought many notes and sometimes gifts of appreciation to all of the teachers and specialists who worked hard to provide our children with support, encouragement, and skills in order to continue to make progress and meet their goals.
As a certified Wilson Reading tutor and teacher that has worked within the special education and general education realm, I know our teachers are dedicated individuals who genuinely care about our kids. That’s worthy of recognition, of course.
But as a parent of a child with a learning difference, I also know the last person that I remember to recognize for all that was done to make it through the school year is me.
There’s no denying our kids faced adversity and worked through some difficult challenges this school year, but don’t let it be lost on you that you’re the one who attended meetings, did the research, filled out paperwork and emailed with teachers. You drove your child to multiple appointments for language testing, OT, PT, tutoring, ABA therapy or all of the above. You dried your child’s tears when he or she got frustrated and shared in their joy when they felt proud.
If this was the first year that your child was determined eligible for special education services, give yourself a pat on the back for finally getting your child the support they're entitled to. We know that most services come only after you've been a squeaky wheel for far longer than is appropriate.
If you have a child with dyslexia who is graduating high school and you've been doing this their full K-12 career, we at The LD Expert encourage you to throw your cap in the air and celebrate too! You and your family have been on a long journey. We know you often questioned what their path forward would look like.
In either case, acknowledge the amount of physical and emotional effort it took to get to this point and allow yourself to feel some guilt-free gratitude for the ways you supported your child this school year. Many aspects of parenthood are hard regardless of circumstances. Your child doesn’t need to have a learning difference in order to do the hard work of advocating for their needs, but there is an added layer to parenting a child who needs extra support that we rarely have time to think about, let alone talk about.
We see you.
You’re the one who stayed awake at night worrying if you were advocating well enough, or wondering if you were doing more harm than good.
You walked a fine line between pressing for services and remaining on good terms with the classroom teacher, team chair, and specialists because you know they’re the ones who you need on your side.
If your child didn’t qualify for services, you probably weighed all the pros and cons of hiring a tutor. This is extra complex during the summertime and when navigating finances. Do you have your child work to avoid the summer slide or do you send them to a fun camp? If your child did qualify for services, you probably worried about what specials they missed or how it felt to be pulled away from peers. If you have a partner who shares the parenting with you, you know how often you summarized and synthesized almost every email you received, appointment you made and article you read.
So even though it may feel silly, imagine yourself holding your child’s hand as you both cross the proverbial finish line with your arms in the air, breaking that ribbon and cheering together. And please - take at least a couple of days before you start getting all of your ducks in a row for next school year! You've more than earned it.