I felt the lump in my throat form as his caseworker explained, “so he has met the criteria for preschool disabled and that’s what it says on his IEP” (Individualized Education Program). This is exactly what we wanted and what we were hoping for, yet the words were difficult to swallow and I fought the urge to break down and cry. She quickly went into all of the resources we now had access to and the information that was outlined in his IEP that would provide him a better chance at learning the way he needed to be taught.
The room was filled with a number of individuals the district requires be present during the meeting. I should’ve remembered their names, but I couldn’t and I felt like I was on a stage as I listened carefully to everything that was being said. I scribbled down some notes as his case manager continued to explain what everything meant and the next steps.
Just another step in our journey, I thought as she continued to chat, distracting me from everything else she was saying. My mind wandered as I realized he would be sharing the title “disabled” with me. The memory of how I felt when I read the neuropsych reports detailing my deficits came flooding back. I can’t remember exactly what the reports said about me but I remember how it made me feel, like someone slapped me across the face and how the tears poured the minute I even looked at the report. Exactly how I felt in this moment, except it was on behalf of our son. I was relieved that he couldn’t read yet and see that these reports called him disabled. I don’t want him to ever feel the way I do. It was then that I realized, it doesn’t matter that we share that word. I was just associating how I felt when I was labeled disabled, with the thought that my life was over and I wouldn’t be able to do anything else. His life was certainly not over (at 3? He was just beginning!) and my life didn’t end when I became associated with it (thank goodness, I’m still living and breathing and writing about it.). Disabled doesn’t define me and won’t define him. I swallowed the lump in my throat and held back my tears (huge success!) and let the relief wash over me as I realized he will be exactly where he needs to be getting the resources he needs, and that’s all that mattered.