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What or who is “typical” anyhow?

In the land of IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan) turned IEP (Individual Education Plan), you hear a lot of terms thrown about.  Many of which you don’t take to heart or give a second thought. But there are some that stick in your craw.

For me, this week it was the term “typical.” It was the label given to a peer of Baby Jude’s (and probably to lots of kids in his class), because she is typical, developing typically, without a disability. She is one of the children who does not have a qualifying disability to be at Calico.

Her parents are simply smart enough to have sought out and found Summit DD Calico as a daycare/pre-school option because it’s spectacular. Even though her kid does not have a special need. Even though she’s “typical.”

It’s important for programs like Calico and the ELP in the Akron Public Schools to have “typical” peers for the children with special needs. They can look up to them. Our kids can strive to behave like the typical kids – play like them; crawl, walk and jump like them; color inside the lines like them; and pump their little legs on the swings like they do.

That is very, very important. It’s peer pressure at its finest. And it makes me grateful to the parents who choose to enroll their kids into a program or school that accommodates special needs kids. If it wasn’t for a little guy in Baby Jude’s first Calico classroom crawling right over his legs, Baby Jude never would have rocked the reciprocal movement necessary for crawling.

Baby Jude needed his typical peer to lead the way. Thankfully, a typical kiddo was there at just the right time.

That being said, when you’re standing on the playground watching Jude play with a bunch of kids at school and overhear the words “typical” describing another child, knowing in your gut that the woman saying those words is not referring to your child, it sucks. It sucks just a little bit and just for a minute. But it sucks.

Your son. Your baby. MY Baby Jude. He’s not the typical and he is not who she is referring to.  Those words are a kick in the gut because “typical” is not just a term or a title. It’s the unattainable.

Baby Jude will never be typical. He may always struggle, in little ways and in big ways – cognitively, physically, developmentally and in sensory needs. He will never attain the title of “typical.”  But, he’s the bees knees in hugs, dimples, pats on the back and overall love.

And more importantly, he is the King of Progress. Show him a challenge and then watch out!   So, to me, it’s ok that he is atypical. Because if atypical means perfectly imperfect, then we’re all good. Typical or not.

As always, Grateful Prayerful & Hopeful.

Read more about Baby Jude in the rest of Sarah’s blog posts.


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