Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Ashley, Through The Years
I spent a couple of hours this past Sunday looking at all the video tape recordings I have of Ashley from the time I adopted her. Many of the recordings were done by hospital therapists, during her time in the feeding program at our local children’s hospital or during outpatient speech, occupational or physical therapy. Others were done at school, though most of those were from Ashley’s preschool or early elementary school years. My school district stopped wanting to videotape Ashley after I won due process when Ashley was in 4th grade when one of their tapes was used to reflect negatively on their level of service. And then a few more recordings were ones I did at home – most often to prove that Ashley had a specific skill.
While it was very touching to watch Ashley through the years – little Ashley with a huge smile on her face as she disembarked from the school bus to slightly older Ashley fighting with her feeding therapist over ‘lumpy’ food to elementary school Ashley proving she could sign sentences when the school district said she couldn’t – the tapes of Ashley in school made me angry.
I asked myself the same questions I asked during the filming. Why do I have to prove that Ashley knows her ABCs? Why do I have to videotape her identifying every state in the United States? Why did I have to prove that she knew beginning in first grade what a rhombus and a parallelogram were? I didn’t have good answers then and I don’t have good answers now although I still find myself having to prove Ashley possesses academic skills.
I’m converting the videos to digital format because I am using them in a class I am teaching at our local university. The class is part of the Severe Disabilities Consortium which is composed of courses for teachers who are pursuing certification to teach children with severe disabilities.
So maybe the real reason I have all these videos was not to fight my school district through the years, but rather to help new severe disabilities teachers have a more open and positive attitude when they return to their classrooms.
I really do hope Ashley’s story can have a positive impact of other teachers and other children.