What is your calling?
We all have one you know. We may think that is just for those in the spotlight, but in fact, that is not true! My favorite thing to remind the folks I talk with is that we were ALL created for a purpose!
I know in our gray, messy, not good days, we think the farthest thing from that, but it is a fact, and or kids are most definitely part of that "ALL".
I don't know what your broad picture is as far as your personal calling is concerned, but I know one part of it, if you are the parent of a kiddo with some differences. Part of your calling is to be your child's advocate. By that I don't particularly mean a "hell on wheels" kind of advocate (although, I have been the actual DRIVER :) of that car on occasion!), but I do mean you are the captain of your child's path. Many experts in the field of HFA or Asperger's that I have talked to, read, or heard speak, will tell you that our kids reach the developmental equal of a "neurotypical" kid of 18, when our kids are anywhere from 20 to late 20's...or quite typically run about 30% behind the chronological age, at any given time - and even that has a range. Sooo...if your 16 year old acts about 12...that's about right! Every kiddo is different. I say all that to say this. The piece of calling you have as your kids advocate is a long running show...kind of like the Titanic movie of life!!
I was reminded of this in vivid color, again, as we sat through our local Community College "Day of Vision". This was a workshop setting where your kids went to different classes to learn about college and the parents went to different classes as well. My husband and I went to the "How things change for your child with disabilities" talk, of course. Towards the middle of the talk, my husband gently said "I have a question...you have said a lot about what you do not do for these kids once they get to college...can you tell me some things you do help with?" The speaker did a good job of talking through how it was easier to say what things change as far as services that fall away from K-12 to college, as that is more black and white and parents need to know those things - and that they really try to work on a case by case basis with kids coming in, and that they have all kinds of disabilities represented on campus. That speaker was just working within what Oklahoma has in place currently...no fault of hers...that is just our states offering (right now anyway! :) )
There are so many things to take away from these types of occurrences, but I'll focus on a couple:
1) Be informed. Be sure you are as equipped as possible when you approach any situation for your child. Whether it is a transition to college, or your IEP meetings, or what the process will be at school or home around holiday's when things get less structured and more social focused with parties, and our kids anxiety ramps up.
2) Be the best representative you can be. Did you notice when I said my husband "gently" said...above? This is a big deal. Even when you are needing to point out something that is not quite right - always try to conduct yourself as the very best representative for your child that you can be.
3) Make a way. Try to make a way for those that come after you or, are walking with you. There was a lady that was obviously distressed in that meeting, and asked what was she supposed to do as everything they said would leave her son out of a college setting. She was directed to talk more to Voc. Rehab, etc. I grabbed her on the way out and gave her my website link and told her about the effort we are working on to bring programs into campuses that WOULD allow success for our kids. We all have a way to be an encouragement for others, and I have found that when things are not going well, I'll get a call or referral to talk to someone that needs help, and when I do, I feel WAY better.
The very best model for these traits is Jesus. He never messed up. He got angry - but it was righteous anger about injustice. He is our model. And, thankfully, we have the info on his disciples...they did mess up, they acted boneheaded sometimes, but they always knew what there calling was, and stayed true to it. I can relate to that!
So! I'll leave you with a scripture that is a lovely reminder of this.
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:1-2.
Footnote...Representative Nelson was re-elected yesterday YES!. This is a big deal for the effort to get support for the college programs I speak about into Oklahoma. If you haven't yet, please go to the website and register. We will soon have a "call to support", where you can contact your legislator about supporting these programs!
See you Thursday night! We will just have a free talk night...no speaker is planned!