Necessary changes

(That's right. I'm blogging about school on a Saturday.
In case you hadn't noticed, by way of my 20 years of
schooling, I am a school junkie. I do school on Saturday.
That's just how I roll.)

At the very time she needs it most, school often gets pushed to the outskirts of our day. I'm sure it's an irony many parents have faced before me...the child with special needs is so overwhelming it is difficult to even attempt to meet them.

In November, Amelia was diagnosed with two things: Episodic Ataxia, a disease that causes her to lose balance, depth perception, and speech coordination at random times throughout the day; and a sensory processing disorder, which basically means that she either can't sense or doesn't react to stimulation (touch, smell, taste, see, hear) the same way you and I do.

Both of these issues mean that we've had to translate what was a very Type A mom, paper-and-pencil, books and workbooks sort of school into a very hands-on, flexible school that takes lots of breaks and only works for short periods of time.

Bring on the "manipulatives"! We are blessed to have a teacher for an aunt, so we get lots of great school supplies for very little expense. A math manipulative set means that, in the same 20 minute period, Katy can work on her fractions; Rosy her addition and subtraction; Amy her color sorting and counting skills; Caleb pattern recognition and numbers.

I think that, in hindsight, they're loving school more than ever before. The changes have been for the better for all four of the kids. My son will certainly be blessed by the changes we've made in how we "do" school, little go-getter that he is.

And so school keeps on going, in the cracks of the day, fit in when we have a moment, whether I just hopped out of the shower, or haven't even had time to shower yet this day. Sometimes during meals, and always it is an everyday miracle, it works even though I am desperate and overwhelmed, and the kids learn despite all my failings.

Amy's therapists have taught me that engaging her large muscles and using deep pressure help Amy engage in the many smaller, detailed tasks I ask her to complete as part of her rehab program. This "steam-rolling" activity is one of her absolute favorite school time-outs. Today it blended perfectly with what we were learning: the dimensions of objects - height, width, and depth. We had fun trying to turn the 3-dimensional children into paper dolls (Katy would quickly report that it didn't work. She *may* be a realist, Type A mom herself someday).

"Squishing" Amy's limbs with a balance ball.

At the same time I am finding new ways to help Amelia "engage" in learning, I am being forced to engage, too. I have always loved a good challenge, and this certainly is a challenge. The routine never gets boring, because we're constantly switching things up.

The parent is so often just a bigger picture of those she is parenting. Like Amy, I need God to speak through a megaphone in order for me to listen. Enter cancer and the suffering of Amy's illness. Like Amy, I need God to use deep pressure to help me focus on the details. Like Amy, I need frequent breaks, times when I can cry out my questions. Like Amy, the approach has to constantly God forces change into my life to open my eyes to my sedentary faith. Just when I think I've got something mastered, He adds a new element for me to figure out. Just when I get comfortable at my current stage, He demands more from me.

And so, with a big God who cares to tailor my training program to my specific special needs, I will never stop learning.