It has been increasingly hard for me to observe parents' lack of faith in their special needs child. Yesterday I went to a meeting which discussed changes in state funding for many traditional programs for people with disabilities. There will be a movement away from traditional day habs and group homes and towards supports for integration into the community by looking at each individual’s strengths and desires and providing funding to support them. In fact, the individual will now have purchasing power to choose from unlimited resources. In the past, the money was given directly to agencies and people would choose from a long standing list. It was pretty much assumed that after graduation, one would automatically go to a day hab and/or group home. During this meeting, I saw many angry parents, even one who stormed out in tears. The general sentiment was that they did not think their child could survive in a wide open system, even with supports. They wanted the comfort of the old system even if it wasn’t working for many and wasn’t helping their son or daughter reach their potential. They lacked faith in their child.
My heart broke for these families. I was in their shoes just 8 months ago. I believed my 9 year old son would always be a toddler and never be potty trained. I treated him as such. We read the same toddler board books over and over. I did almost everything for him. I became resigned that it would always be this way.
We often rely on what we readily see. We forget there is another way of seeing- through eyes of faith. The Bible often makes reference to this. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) We live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Learning RPM from Soma was a revelation for us. It gave us a glimpse of what Philip was capable of. For four days, Soma demonstrated her confidence in our son by teaching him lessons on his grade level such as the water cycle, Pilgrims, Aesop’s Fables, 2 digit addition, word problems, and butterflies. We were astonished as he answered questions from her teaching, first by choosing between 2 choices, then progressing to spelling his answer on a letter stencil. The highlight of the week was when Philip answered what he wanted for Christmas by spelling “RADIO.” From then on, we looked at Philip in a brand new way. Not as a 2 year old, but as a 9 year old trapped in an uncooperative body who needed support to show his true potential. We started talking to him regularly, not “go car”, but conversationally and wordy like we did with our other kids. We started expecting him to use the toilet, and guess what? He did! I continued daily lessons like Soma. Though it was extremely hard at first, we persevered because I finally believed in Philip. 8 months later I have a folder of wonderful things Philip has said through spelling with me. A couple weeks ago, I asked him, “What is the best thing that has happened since you met Soma?” Philip replied, “I am teaching you I am smart.”
The power of faith.