You have a bowl of ice cream in your hands. A bowl of raspberry ice cream with rainbow sprinkles. And you’ve been waiting all day to eat this thing. You’ve been talking about it to anyone who will listen. Well, the moment is finally here!
You push your plastic, white spoon into the ice cream and pull it out…nothing. You jam your spoon in again, a little harder, and pull it out. Nothing. Your mouth is watering. You notice the other people around you. Everyone else is absentmindedly dipping their spoons into their ice cream and pulling them back up with a heaping mound of yummy. No one else seems to have trouble with this. But this is really hard for you. You even mutter, “is really hard.”
You try again, and finally you manage to spear a little bit of ice cream with the tip of your spoon. Victory!! But as you pull it towards your mouth, the tiny bit of ice cream falls off the spoon and onto your lap. Now you’re wet, your clothes are stained, and you still don’t have ice cream or sprinkles in your mouth.
But you don’t give up. And you don’t accept help. This is your battle to win. Again and again you try until, finally, you manage to keep ice cream on your spoon long enough to get it in your mouth. You weren’t able to get sprinkles too, but that’s ok. You’ll try again next time. As you enjoy your first small bite of ice cream, you look around. Everyone else is done. Their bowls are empty; licked clean. In the time it took you to take that first bite, everyone else gobbled theirs down.
So it takes you a little longer. And it’s a little harder. But you don’t give up. You keep eating away, content to finally have your ice cream after a day of waiting.
This is what it’s like for Emmy when she eats ice cream, something that most people do absentmindedly. When I eat my ice cream, I don’t think about what I’m doing. It just, well, happens. But when Emmy eats ice cream, she has to work harder.
But she does it! She tries and, eventually, succeeds.
This is why it upsets me so much when people assume that children who have special needs can’t do things (Just Like You — my last post).
It’s not that they can’t.
They can, but it may take a little longer. They can, with help. They can, but they may need modifications. They can, with the proper supports in place. But they can.
Sometimes Emmy says, “I can’t.”
Not only are things harder for her, but she is TINY. Climbing on a big couch is difficult for her. Operating scissors with her little fingers is tough. And sometimes she defaults to “I can’t.”
But that’s not true. She can, and she proves it time and time again. Because with a little nudge, she’s up on the couch. With the correct positioning, she’s operating those scissors. She can. She just needs help sometimes.
And sometimes she doesn’t need help. There are many things that she does beautifully on her own, like dribbling a soccer ball. She learned that one from her older sister.
Last night at dinner, Charlotte proudly spelled her first and last name aloud. So, on a whim, my husband Dan asked, “Emmy, can you spell your name?”
She looked straight at him and replied, “E-M-M-Y.”
Dan and I practically leapt into the air and shouted, “Yes, yes, yes! That’s it!”
Then she gave a grin and continued calmly, “O-A.”
We’ll take it!! 😉
The teachers at her preschool have been awesome about including Emmy in all of the activities that everyone else does. And she’s learning so beautifully from both her teachers and peers. Sure, her construction-paper pumpkin looks a little different from the others. And her circles are not as perfectly formed. But she’s doing it all.
I think it’s important to acknowledge that people with special needs CAN.
She can. She will. She does. She did.