When Ashley was in the third grade, one of the special education staff told me I needed to be more realistic and accept that she had a lot of limitations. He said I set my sights too high when it came to what she was capable of doing. He was wrong, of course, and a judge told him so when I took his self righteous behind to court.
There are times when it seems our children with disabilities might not be making much progress. Sometimes it seems like they may be 'stuck' at a certain age, often not their chronological age. But I believe we are doing a huge disservice to our children if we accept they have reached the limits of their potential, regardless of their age.
Ashley will be 19 years old very soon. Just this week, I heard something that my heart has longed to hear for 17 years - she called me 'Ma'. She has always used the sign for Mother, and that is wonderful. But I just always wanted to hear it in her sweet voice. I wasn't sure I ever would, but this week I did.
Also, Ashley has always had some problems with eating. She has a g-tube, but she also takes most of her food by mouth. That's a result of some intensive therapy at the feeding clinic at our local children's hospital. Her food choices, though, are very limited. We see the same subset of foods rotated through every meal. But recently, she reached over and snagged my chocolate croissant - and ate it all!! A couple of weeks ago, she also took a spoon and indicated that she wanted to stick it in the jar of peanut butter. I helped her scoop some onto the spoon, and then she ate it all! I just stared at her in shock!
Our children are never stuck, never without potential. Even during the slower times, they are absorbing and processing, just like any person does. Never believe people when they tell you your child has reached their limit - never underestimate them - and never, ever let anyone else try to stifle your child's growth. Regardless of their age, I believe our children are always learning just as we learn throughout our lifetime. Let's celebrate their successes whenever and wherever they happen!