Goals are illusive things, especially when talking about a special needs child. They change over time. They change as you grow and redefine what is important. They change as your child’s abilities and deficits become more apparent.
I read an interesting post over at Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords this past weekend. The author talks about his assumption that the best goal for his daughter would be to succeed in the NT world. His daughter is now eleven and it occurred to him that maybe he was setting her up for failure.
With my oldest two, from the beginning, my mindset was they could do anything they put their minds to. I assumed they would graduate with a regular diploma. I assumed they would compete in the NT world. Both J and MK did. They earned regular high school diplomas and went out to tackle the working world. It was a success as far as them meeting my goals. Ultimately, though, for J and MK as people, the cost may have been too high. J doesn’t remember the thrill of succeeding- he remembers the years of being the stupid kid, the feeling of not being able to connect with NT kids. MK needs support, but is not eligible for services because I insisted she compete with everyone else and succeed. They came so close, but maybe I, like Schuyler’s Dad fears, just set them up for failure. It never even crossed my mind at the time.
When we first started on our journey with GB, my goal was for her to attend kindergarten in our neighborhood school. She did that. As far as the world was concerned, it was a rousing success. From GB’s viewpoint, not so much. She remembers being very unhappy and dreading school. In the last two years, I have done a lot of reevaluating. Part of it was looking at my oldest two and what they need to succeed and be happy. Part of it was getting accurate information on what GB’s deficits are and what she can realistically can handle. Most of it is realizing that God has a purpose for GB and my job is to help her fulfill God’s purpose for her life, not mine.
When I look back on how I made decisions for my children, with the best of intentions, I cringe at my arrogance. What was done, was done. However, I still have the opportunity to support GB in fulfilling God’s plan for her and will do my best. She is not NT and never will be.
I don’t have to continue making the same mistakes.