I don't think there is any secret that Genea has special needs. Well, maybe it's a secret from her school since they don't want her on an IEP (Individual Education Plan, key to getting special education funding and services). My daughter has special needs, just as if she had dyslexia or Down's syndrome. You can't see her needs and it is difficult to test for her needs but rest assured they are there.
I have had several meetings with her school these past few years. Mostly we all talk and all agree that she needs extra, extra help. Her fantastic teachers have accommodated her so far, but since she is "unofficial", there is a limit to what they can do. We end the meetings with testing suggestions and I give them my lengthy list of diagnosis du jour, fully expecting that somewhere along the line we will hit on something that qualifies her.
We have not. Yet.
I have given my child "mental health" excuse notes. Such as, she was wiped out from an hour of tantrums when The Crazy in her head exploded and could not finish her homework. She will get the work done, oh yes she will, but it may not be on time and she may be docked points and that's okay, we will live with it. Sometimes she goes manic, and there will be days where she is like a ping pong ball with hair and there is no way she will get homework done. She will try and we will set her up for it, but it is not going to be right and no one can read it. Just as if she had cystic fibrosis and needed time for her breathing treatments, she has times where her mental instability holds her back from the standard curriculum. One time this year, during a particularly rough patch I pulled her out of school when the teacher called to let me know how much she was struggling. It is notable that this was the only day she missed all year- seriously. She has not missed a single day this year being physically sick!
It's tricky- whoa is it tricky, and I'm sure I mess it up plenty. There are typical childhood brat moments, Reactive Attachment Disorder moments, and Bipolar moments. It's the Bipolar moments when I take control and try to wipe out the world for her. She needs a small safe place to work through it all. The RAD moments just have to blow over and the brat moments are ignored.
So anyway, I was talking to my mom a few days ago and she mentioned something about "and of course Genea has special needs". And my response was...... WHAT special needs HMMM? Okay, that response was in my head but I bristled up and felt, not offended, but more like, hey!
Why, when I have spent 3 years trying to convince the school system that she has special needs, why would I feel that Mommy Protection thing fire up? It's even more strange because I have spent 4 years trying to convince my mother that Genea has a very hard time. My mom has come from the angle of "all kids do that" for a long time, it surely helps that idea when you are 150 miles away from your granddaughter. If you rarely see it, it's easy to imagine that "all kids do that". I should be relieved, even happy, that she finally see's it. I guess I am. Sort of. Maybe because she spent so much time rallying for the normal, I felt like maybe we could still get there. Now, if she sees the special needs too, they've become obvious.
Updated I don't usually post things I have written late at night, I hold off until the morning when I can read thru and be sure I am making sense to myself!
I feel conflicted on the issue of Genea's disabilities. Sometimes I feel like I have to bonk people on the head to make them understand what is going on that can't be seen. Since there is nothing obvious looking at her, often I find myself laying it all out there in the hopes that someone will get it. When they don't, it's frustrating. However, I also don't like the idea that someone might look at her and think.... wow, what's wrong with her? With that often comes pity that we do not need. Also, she is very much the type of child that rises to the occasion. If the bar is set high, she will reach it. If it is set lower, and expectations are lowered because she is "special", there is no doubt she will react. I know (for a fact!) that if she thinks she has an "out" she will use it, needed or not. She can learn and indeed she learns well. It amazes me sometimes, all that she takes in. It was sort of alarming and kind of depressing to realize that her issues may be more apparent than I thought. I am way to close to see these things clearly anymore. I want people to know, and she needs people to understand, that her abilities are affected by her history and mental health. I don't wish her to be treated differently because of it.
See? Conflicted. I hope this makes sense, maybe I should pull this down. Maybe it won't make sense at all because I am saying 2 different things that don't match up and probably can't be achieved. That's what I mean. Maybe I am overthinking, maybe feelings aren't logical and it will never be clear.