"You didn't drop the ball," I was told today by a speech pathologist, when talking about a little autistic girl up in the mountains about 2 hours from me. "For some reason, the AT piece was just cut off before it could get anywhere. I tried to get you in our meetings but I was told that we could handle it ourselves with low tech and without bringing someone in to get involved."
I hate hearing these types of stories. It isn't because I think I am some guru that can come in and save the day and make everything suddenly better. It isn't because I think low tech isn't the answer. It isn't because I believe that the decisions and efforts of those in this instance weren't valuable and full of the best intentions for the student.
The reason I hate these type of stories is because a student didn't get EVERY service they were entitled to. My services are paid for this student through regional program dollars, so the service wouldn't cost the school a dime. My services could be a support to the team and to help them get another view of the situation.
When I am in a situation where I have a student that I am scratching my head over, I put out a call for opinions and ideas - I don't say that I can handle it with my own limited experiences and ideas. When we do that, there are usually two reasons why it happens. One is pride and the other is the pocket book. And who gets short-changed? The staff? the school? The student.
What a waste.
There is the parable in the New Testament that Christ told about the Good Shepherd. He left the ninety and nine to go after the one. The one was as precious to him as any other. I guess most of us in education are there because we have compassion and care about kids. We are "Good Shepherds." We want to save everyone. Sometimes I see "The one" and wonder if I could have done something more, to reach and...
School is out for the other ninety nine this week and I have some wonderful memories of smiles from high school kids that came and put their arm around me to say "hi" because I helped them use some communication tools they hadn't used before. I have memories of a terminally ill boy playing his own voice in rap music for me he recorded while he is in the process of losing his voice. There is the girl that I made a wood floor easle for in my shop so she could type with her toes. I have a boy who took a Tango home on loan over Memorial Day week-end and took it to a family reunion. He was able to come back and tell me, with the device, that he went fishing, went on a long walk and that his family was happy to see him using the device. His family labored to help him program in the messages - talk about family buy in! It was the most he had ever been able to tell me in one visit.
I could go on and on...I have a heart bursting with joy and thankfulness for the blessings that have occurred over the past 9 months, but I guess I still think of that one little girl up in the mountains that I got a service request for and then when I tried to set up an appointment, no one followed through. I felt I had dropped the ball until someone came in to tell me today that I hadn't.
I still want to think there could have been something more I could have done. Whether there really was or not, I guess I'll never know. The word is that this little girl will be moving away from our area this summer . I hope she is somewhere with a new support team that advocates for every service possible. Then there are those still here that I will continue on the road to help next fall. I can see their faces now. I can't wait - but I have a summer to get through first...I will enjoy it and take some time to write and work on some online projects while I have the time. I will continue to share what I am learning, thinking and doing with you. Thanks for reading.
All the best to you!