Misplaced Trust – Part I

Growing up, my dad would often tell me to be very careful of who I trusted and to never give anyone my complete trust.  When I would question him about what he meant by that, he would just say “just be careful, that’s all”. Being a kid at the time, I thought he was talking about what is now being taught in schools as “stranger/danger”. And, kid-like, I shrugged it off. I wish I hadn’t, and if I could turn back time, I would have been much more vigilant. But, I didn’t want to live my life in fear or feeling like people, as a whole, aren’t basically good. To this day I still do believe most people are good and I do have many people in my life that I trust completely and without question. But, my dad’s words would come back to haunt me many times over. Some of life’s lessons are learned at such a very high price.

I’ve heard it said, “If you believe something, you need no proof and if you don’t believe something, no amount of proof will ever convince you”. Wow! What a powerful statement that turned out to be for me.

Sometimes, things happen in families, that are so devastating, so hurtful, that it shakes the very core and foundation of the family and tears the family apart. That happened to our family. Without going into the details of what happened, because that wouldn’t serve the grater good, I’ll just say my oldest brother, Tommy, believed my dad hurt him so badly he had to cut all ties with the family, and he did. The rest of our family was heartbroken, but completely supported dad. I remember being angry at Tommy, because he even cut ties with my other two brothers and me. I now know, Tommy was just doing what he thought he had to do for himself and his family. I trusted, and hoped that eventually things would work themselves out so we could all be together again. Unfortunately, we never saw Tommy again. He got cancer and died.

Tommy’s passing hit me so hard I thought I would die myself. I’d never lost anyone I felt so close to and I didn’t think I would ever be able to move past the grief of not only losing him, but also the pain of not being able to tell him good-bye and how much I loved him. It was years later that his son helped me understand that even though Tommy wasn’t in my life, he did still love me. I took comfort in that.

When Shantel started public school, I thought I would have to quit my job and just follow her around all day to be sure she was safe. Shantel was the only blind child to attend her school and I was sure they were completely unprepared to support her needs. This is when I was introduced to the world of IEP’s. I had never even heard of this and had no idea what it was all about. IEP stands for Individual Educational Plan. All children with special needs are required to have an IEP on file. The IEP is developed with the parents, child, and the IEP team, which is made up of the school assigned case manager, any teacher the child has and various other school staff members. In the beginning, I thought the parents were to attend the meetings and be told how the school would support your child. However, I very quickly found out that if you let that happen, your child will get what the school thinks they need instead of what your child really needs to be successful. I learned I needed to research the law, to understand the facts, and come to the meetings with my “A” game. I learned I needed to be very assertive in the IEP meetings. In fact, I would attend the meetings dressed in a business suit and I would have an IEP meeting agenda that I wrote and would hand out to each staff member. I must have been the only parent to do this at Shantel’s school because the IEP team didn’t know how to handle me. I demonstrated to them that this IEP meeting was going to be parent driven which is exactly how they should all be conducted.

All my efforts paid off because I convinced the school Shantel needed a on-one assistant with her at all times. We were assigned a lovely woman to assist Shantel who went above and beyond to learn all she could to help Shantel. She even took Braille classes at the school for the blind. She would hand braille all of Shantel’s lessons and add textile pictures on lessons so Shantel could feel them to get an image in her mind of what the other children were seeing. We could clearly see that this assistant truly had Shantel’s success at the center of her thoughts and efforts. This woman continued to support Shantel all through grade school and into junior high. Then, everything changed.

Stay tuned for: Misplaced Trust – Part II

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gotham Girl
    Feb 20, 2012 @ 00:50:36

    Staying tuned my sweet! Staying tuned!


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