The hurt and frustration about school turned physical last evening in our home. Things came off walls, hair was pulled out. My kiddo was driven to a state of frustration and loneliness beyond anything he has ever experienced in the past. He had no coping strategies left. He could not find the words to express how desperate he was feeling and why.
After 2 hours, we finally got it figured out and the relief on my kid’s face when he knew we truly got it was painful for me to see. When I cannot understand what my kids are trying to communicate to me, my heart crumbles and I
become desperate. But my heart crumbles are a fraction of what anyone experiences when they cannot communicate to be understood.
The bottom line is that my kid felt uncared for, unwanted in his special education program, rushed all day. He actually said they forgot he has Autism and has special needs.
I do not blame the teachers. The fact they show up every day for the shit show is evidence of their willingness to try regardless of knowing they are expected to do the impossible. They are in a situation that should never have come to be. Too few well-trained adults with too many kids. Too many differing needs in a school that has no clue about inclusion, therapeutic methods, sensory needs. I blame the system. I blame the structure of a typical high school day. I blame short-sighted
administrators who are in way over their heads and don’t even know it. They have no idea what they don’t know. I blame ineffective professional development, lack of teacher coaching and mentoring. I blame our society for being so very far behind in understanding and supporting people with special needs and mental health challenges.
My business, Knapsack Consulting, LLC, is about finding solutions so things like what has happened to my kid, don’t happen to any other kiddo or teacher. We arrive at every solution by using common sense, critical thinking, and compassion. That really is all it takes.
Simple common sense would have driven administration to properly staff a growing special education program. Common sense tells us that minding the campfire is more effective than trying to put out an uncontrollable wildfire in shifting winds. Common sense would have motivated administration to provide effective professional development, coaching and mentoring.
This takes ability to stand back and walk around a challenge, looking at all sides, considering all options. Critical thinking means objectively analyzing data and information. It allows us to correctly identify problems. Too many times we aren’t even aiming at the real problems. Critical thinking allows us to offer interventions and solutions that will work because we have considered all possibilities of outcome. I could make a strong case that there was little to no critical thinking used in my son’s situation. Nobody took the time to objectively review the data. And I believe there was no way for administration to study this objectively because there is a lack of experiencing and the knowledge base is outdated and minimal. You cannot analyze data if you don;t even recognize it as data.
This is the one. If just one person would have considered the human element, the impact of too few resources, too little training and communication on the students and the adults trying desperately to serve and support we would not be sinking in the quick sand, would not be hurting, would not feel ineffective. The kids would feel cared for and heard. The adults would feel cared for and heard. And it is from that place, that place of feeling valued and understood, all good decisions are made. My kid is not heard, not cared for, not supported and as he said, it’s like they forgot he has Autism and has special needs. Feeling invisible is a very unsafe place to be.
And my guess is every single person in the current mess is feeling invisible. Students, teachers, paraprofessionals, parents.
My question is this.
How did we get so lost?