I'm humbled and touched by the comments my last essay on the New York Times' Motherlode blog received from last week about Jamie mainstreaming. Only one person felt that they had to teach me that I wasn't a "special needs mom" and that Jamie wasn't a "special needs child." That's all well and good, but the truth is-- or should I say, my truth is-- adapting to this label and assimilating into that culture to meet my son's needs as a first time parent many years ago was overwhelmingly an identity-changing phase in my life. I like to think that it will forever offer me a sense of understanding into the particulars of every child's challenges, whether deemed "typical" or "special."
I don't offer any particular value to any title or diagnosis that labels a child, but what I have learned is that living as an advocate for mine has been an active choice that at times has required the support of those categories in order to push forward. I feel privileged that I was led, circumstantially, into the understanding that there was another way. Jamie didn't have to be ostracized in school. He's brilliant and sensitive, and most of all, valued in a school environment that recognized and gave him what he needed.
If you haven't had a chance to read my essay, check it out here: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/23/into-the-main-stream/.