Fatherhood Adventures – June 16, 2017

The close of the school year always comes with mixed emotions.

There’s the finality of it all and the fact the kids will essentially say goodbye to the teachers they have been with on a daily basis for the last nine months. There’s sadness because these folks become family members.

After all, they are talked about and referred to on a daily basis, and we communicate regularly with them on what’s going on in the classroom (and oftentimes outside of it). These teachers are important people in our lives, and we value them tremendously because our kids bond and love them.

Each year I try to put into words the feelings that come with the end of the school year. Gratitude, respect and admiration are a few that immediately come to mind.

With our elementary school-aged children, the education experiences could not be more different. They go to two different schools but that’s the only thing simple about describing their disparate journeys in the education world.

Beckett wrapped up third grade last week. It was memorable for many reasons, including the fact he excelled, achieving great grades and perfect attendance, and loved his teachers.

This was a major year of growth for Beckett as he gained our trust with homework and test preparation. We wanted to see how he independently managed his workload and specifically studied for tests. He performed poorly on a few tests due to not preparing enough but he learned from those trips on the chin.

Carson finishes up first grade today. It has been an exhausting roller coaster ride for Carson and his education team. I say team because there are many individuals involved with his education, including his primary teacher, his one-on-one educational assistant, specialty subject teachers, Individualized Education Plan (IEP) leader, speech therapist, occupational therapist, principal, assistant principal, guidance counselor and front office staff members.

Each of them had direct dealings with Carson. The only way I know to talk about Carson’s many challenges is from the heart. Life is hard with him and for him. It’s a stressful, complicated and exhausting struggle. No day is easy with Carson and most have us questioning whether we are strong enough parents for him.

This is not to say Carson does not make us proud. He absolutely does each and every day in some fashion. He amazes and impresses us with his strong will, charming personality, unique sense of humor, creativity and intelligence. He has made tremendous progress over the years and has shown an ability to overcome the odds that we believe will continue on in his life.

However, the fact is Carson can be difficult. He is facing a variety of obstacles with no simple solutions, and we struggle daily to help him meet and overcome them. Grades are important to us with his big brother, but they are just not the priority at this time with Carson. It’s more about functioning in a safe, productive fashion.

Being non-verbal is the most obvious issue for him, but in some ways it’s the simplest. He might not ever speak. We hope he will and try to provide all the resources and support we can to give him the best opportunities to overcome his Apraxia. He communicates with us just fine through sign language and through his Dynavox tablet. He has a long way to go on proficiency with this alternative communication device in the school setting, but he has progressed a lot over the years.

Along with the non-verbal element, vision issues and his developmental delays across the board, his major problem is behavior. He makes poor decisions and has a penchant for erratic misbehavior that oftentimes leads to an inability to function in the general education setting. There were seemingly daily issues to deal with and confront from a parental standpoint this school year.

On one hand, Carson is our reminder to take every day as it comes because each day is different. That’s a blessing in some ways. On the other hand, it’s a constant and troubling distraction and becomes increasingly difficult to focus on other parts of life when he is constantly making bad decisions and acting out in a fashion that’s harmful to himself and those working so hard to help him. It’s nerve wracking from an emotional, psychological and physical stand point to see our child in psychological turmoil and acting out in ways that are inconsistent with the values we strive to teach and model for him.

While we will continue to cope and learn from the negatives and do our best to provide Carson a culture to thrive in, we feel tremendous pride and appreciation for those who worked with him on a daily basis this past school year.

Their commitment to Carson was inspiring. We are his parents. We will always have his back. It was comforting to know during the school year others did as well. We need the support of our school system. We are relieved to know we have it, and we are thankful for all those who helped our son along the way by being there for him and communicating with us on a daily basis, even when it was not what we wanted to hear.

You know who you are and we thank you for being a source of positivity for us.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.