Today we visited the other, more restrictive environment school proposed for Sarah and I thought I was prepared. I have told myself this entire week that this could be the best situation for Sarah, but being there and seeing the kids walk by, it affected me. There was a child picking and blowing his nose in his hand just like Sarah. There was another child punching the lockers as she walked by. I heard a child sitting on a bench making loud strange noises and we saw other autistic issues that are more severe than Sarah’s. I looked at David and with this new reality hit me hard; tears came streaming down my face. I could tell David seeing me like this choked him up, too, and he rubbed my back trying his best to reassure me. I tried to gather myself because I didn’t want the social worker who was going to give us the tour of the school see me crying. I thought I was composed by the time she came but as the woman approached us she said, “Yes, this place can have that affect on parents. Do you want a Kleenex? Do you want to sit down before we start?”
Our new reality had begun.
At first, I thought, “What are we doing here?” I saw paraprofessionals/aides wearing finger-less gloves that went up their arms and saw how these gloves protected them from children who pinched them. I saw a child trying to hit his aide and the aide gently redirecting him. I thought of how Sarah, who mimics negative behaviors, would only digress more if she attended here. But as the tour continued we saw higher functioning kids, higher than Sarah actually, greeting us. We saw kids learning and rooms especially designed to meet Sarah’s sensory needs. And while seeing some of things were a bit alarming, there was a sense of overall happiness at this school. I saw autistic children laughing with their teachers. Students coming up greeting and teasing the social worker and there was truly a sense of contentment. Most of all, we saw teachers and aides who truly have a heart for these special children and have a desire and the resources to help them. (While we LOVE her teacher, Sarah’s current program does not have these resources.)
David and I walked out the school knowing that this is the place God is leading us to for Sarah.
My friend, Lucy, gave me a book several years ago called, “Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide of Finding Contentment” by Linda Dillow. I love this quote on page 26 of this book:
“Two women looked through prison bars;
One saw mud, the other saw stars.”
It is so easy to only see the mud. It’s there; it’s not like only one had mud and the other didn’t. Likewise, both also had the view of the stars above them, but only one chose to focus upwards.
Hebrews 12:2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith…”
Choosing our focus….I think I had a change of focus today. Like a lot of things in life, at first, I saw only the negative and was overwhelmed by it. Yet, God opened my eyes to see how He is leading us here and how this might be a place that Sarah might truly be happy and successful.
Changing my focus and fixing my eyes on Him; while this is a new reality for us, a common thread of His faithfulness remains fast and true in whatever circumstances we face.
Thank you so much for your on-going prayers!