Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An A-Ha Moment

I'm starting to see the big picture of why God put me and Samantha together. I know some things about child development having studied it in college and then raising three older kids. I also know some things about language development, having an advanced degree in TESOL. Samantha is lacking in both life and language skills, and since she was young I've felt inadequate to help her, even with my background. But the more I explore how to help her and find teachers and therapists who will address her needs, the more I'm seeing what I can do for her. They're the experts in working with children. I have knowledge that informs my assessment of what kind of help she needs. I continue to seek out that help for her, and then come alongside the experts to reinforce what she gets in classroom strategies, tutoring and therapy.

In other words, I'm the bread on the sandwich so to speak. I hold together the meat of what she needs. I recognize that she needs something, find it for her, then reinforce it. I've known this in a roundabout way but saw it more clearly yesterday when I got to observe on camera what the ISU speech therapist did with her. It was our first day, and I'll be able to do this each time. I can watch the therapy session and then follow up at home. I think I'm a little ahead of the game with my background but still have a lot to learn. In the past, I was able to observe Samantha with the OT when she had sensory processing therapy, and this enabled me to understand her struggles and deal with them myself. However, I got lazy and it became exhausting to be creative in the ways that were required, so I sort of gave up.

Now, I see that this is what God has called me to. I'm not homeschooling anymore; instead I'm the special needs child advocate and supporter. It's new territory as a parent, but I can see how my professional background gives me the resources to do it. Not that someone without my background couldn't do it - I see parents all the time who are learning on the job just like me and doing well at it. The thing my background helps me with is giving me confidence that I wouldn't otherwise have, since I'm not a Type A person. I'm the more cautious, methodical, trial and error type that gets easily overwhelmed when there's too much on my plate and I'm in over my head. In this case, because I've dabbled in language education already, I don't feel in over my head; it's at least vaguely familiar.