Sharing “I CAN!” attitudes: Jake & Tesla
Changing the Dynamics
There have been many moments I have been proud of my son, but, the latest left an impact on his peers and has remained with me for the past several weeks. Jake is 14. He has Cerebral Palsy (spastic quadriplegic). He talks with a Dynavox and has average intelligence. He is in a wheelchair and is small for his age. He started High School in August, and for the first time he is in the full mainstream with a personal assistant. I received a call from the Language Arts teacher one day explaining that she wanted to tell me of an incident that occurred with another student. Jake and a peer partner had finished the class assignment early and were laughing at the pronunciation of a word on the Dynavox. Jake kept pushing the word and the two boys were laughing. Apparently, it was bothering another student. Rather than ask them to stop, the student began mocking Jake. The teacher noticed the student’s behavior and called him into the hall to reprimand him. Upon returning to class the student became upset because the teacher did not address Jake’s behavior. The student further commented “Why do I have to be in a class with HIM anyway?” The teacher responded “Because you both have good intelligence.” As I tried to tell her that I expect Jake to be held responsible for his own behavior, she explained that what happened next changed the dynamics of the class. Using the Dynavox, Jake told them “Hey, I hate it when people talk about me like I can’t hear or don’t understand. I get it!” The teacher said that she really didn’t know how to respond so she began to move toward her desk. She heard the angry student say “I’m really sorry dude, I didn’t know.” The student approached Jake at the end of class and asked how to get his name “in that computer.” Social comments and age appropriate communication have been a challenge through the years, but when it mattered the most, my son advocated for himself and taught others. It doesn’t get better than that.
~Cyndy Grunning (Jake’s proud Mom)
My Tesla was born at 23 weeks. She could fit in the palm of your hand. The doctors did not expect her to live. She did. Then the doctors said she would never walk or talk. She did. She doesn’t have the easiest speech to under stand, but, if you try hard you can figure out what she is saying. Even though she has overcome all of these hurdles, she still struggles in school. Some of the teachers let her off easy because she is such a little “Diva Princess” and they think she is cute. But, last school year my baby girl (age ten then) came home from school and read me a book. It was short… about 8 pages, but she read me a story book. I was so happy I could not even put it into words. All I could do was cry. The poor thing thought she had done something wrong. I told her “No no Princess you did everything right. These are happy tears.” That has been, so far, the proudest moment.
~Laura Felty (Proud Mom of Tesla- age 11)
Share a Proud Moment with us Next Issue! Proud Moments can be any time that you have been extremely proud of your child with special needs. It can be when they are giving it their all or reaching a milestone. You may feel you can only share your excitement or enthusiasm with someone that will really understand. We understand. firstname.lastname@example.org