Tuesday, October 4, 2016

31 for 21 Day 4: Educating Colin

When I look back at how Colin's story unfolded, I am thankful for the fact his diagnosis was a surprise to us until his birth. Because of this, we were able to hold our baby in our arms and just love him despite all of the worries and feelings of grief we were going through at the same time. So much is owed to our family and friends because they too loved him unconditionally and accepted him just as the little person he was.

September 2009 - 5 months old
This was the foundation that all of our hopes, dreams and future expectations for Colin was built upon. We started raising him just as we would have any other child and so we did everything with him. Since I had to go back to work the fall after Colin was born,  that also included finding a daycare we trusted for him to attend. We are so thankful to have found the Growing Tree because we also found teachers who accepted him for who he was and did everything they could to help him grow in so many ways for several years.

September 2010 - 1 year 5 months
The older Colin got, the more natural it felt for him to be included in every aspect of his life because we had never felt anything other than acceptance wherever we went with him. He was welcomed in school, church, our families and with our friends. Later, it became time to find a new daycare (Good Hands) and thankfully, the transition was seamless as we found another place that also welcomed, loved and accepted Colin unconditionally.  While we were always acutely aware of where Colin's differences were compared to others his age we also always knew what his strengths were and what made him happy and successful.

September 2011 - 2 years 5 months
As Colin neared his transition to preschool, our feelings about how we saw him educated and what kind of place we saw that happening started to really come to the surface. I spent a lot of time researching and found that the way we viewed Colin's inclusion in life was validated in the school setting as well with evidence based research to back it up. We had only had success in the daycare setting up to that point so we didn't see why it couldn't work anywhere else.

April 2012 - 3 years old
At many IEP meetings throughout Colin's preschool years, we discussed our future plan for educating Colin and through those years we had an amazing team of people that worked with him every day. We had decided on a self contained placement for preschool because we felt it would give him the attention he needed so that he would be ready when it came time for Kindergarten. In addition, he was still attending the daycare so he was still spending a large portion of his day interacting with his typical peers. Later, we transitioned him to the general education setting for the first year of Kindergarten and that's where our troubles began.

September 2012 - 3 years 5 months
Chris and I feel that it is extremely important for Colin to be educated in a general education setting with his typical peers. We have felt this for as long as we can remember and that still rings true today.

September 2013 - 4 years 5 months
As parents, we follow through on our own beliefs by finding many ways for Colin to be included in his life with things that he loves; soccer, karate, dance lessons, Sunday School/youth group, playdates with friends, school functions, etc. We always want Colin to feel as though his place in this world is valuable.

September 2014 - 5 years 5 months
There is no doubt that with Colin's disability, there are many challenges he faces now and will continue to face in many aspects of his life which undoubtedly includes school. We know that the ways in which he learns best are not always the traditional ways of learning and this can be difficult to accommodate in a general education setting where the needs of all have to be met, and there are state mandated tests and scores that impact educators.  However Colin, just like many people with special needs, demonstrate all of that time that when given the chance, they will amaze you with all of the things they can do. It can be done because it is done all of the time in schools throughout the country.

September 2015 - 6 years 5 months
We hope now as our first court date approaches,  that we will find a resolution that works best for Colin. We have learned in the past 7 years just how capable he is and we hope that we can move forward in the future with the district as a true team that is creative and develops the most appropriate individualized education plan that will support him through each year of his education.

September 2016 - 7 years 5 months
As I scroll through this page and look back at each of the 9 pictures, I can feel the happiness and excitement that each new year brought, but even more so, the worry and anxiety that came with them too. There is so much that has gone into preparing for each year but the bottom line is, we will do anything to make sure Colin receives the education he rightfully deserves.

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