Wednesday, November 16, 2011
I'm on a bit of a rampage, and we all just love a good rant, right? No? Just me?
A friend of mine called last week and was telling me how now that her son is seventeen, she needs to get crackin' with a case worker and start the arduous task of setting things up like Medicaid, transitional services, and SSI. These are things that are in our future, too, but I am letting my blinders stay on until Rojo turns sixteen, maybe seventeen, before crossing those bridges I don't want to cross.
When this friend finally got someone helpful on the phone (can you imagine the extent to which my phone phobia will flare up when I have to do this?), the kind woman on the other end asked, "What is his current eligibility?" My friend gave the initials that bring a tear to her eye and a choke to her throat each time, "M.R."
"Well, we aren't going to use that term," she said, "We'll use Developmentally Disabled."
Later, I was sharing all this with another friend of mine that has closely walked my story with me, and who is the aunt of a fifteen-year-old with Down Syndrome. "I like Intellectual Disability," she said kindly enough. At which point I bit her head off.
"I DON'T!" I said. "It's just another way of saying, 'not smart.' It's focused entirely on what we think of as intelligent, and doesn't tell us anything about the other intelligences the person may have."
I then proceeded to blast her with a long litany of people I know with high SAT scores, impressive graduate degrees, and by all standard measures are "intelligent," and frankly, make some of the most piss-poor decisions I've ever heard of in my life.
At Rojo's school they use the term "learning differences" rather than "learning disabilities." I love this, because that's just exactly what they are, differences. Rojo still can't tie his shoes - probably never will, but that boy is a wiz on his phone and computer. Nobody taught him. He innately knew how to make them do what he wanted them to do. Technology makes sense to him. It works in a way his brain can get itself wrapped around.
Rojo has a spiritual intelligence I've never seen in another person. Ever. I see plenty of "smart" people striving to attain a state of mental health and peace that he effortlessly just has.
I don't know, maybe when it's time for me to make that call I'll give them his "true" diagnosis of PDD-NOS, but maybe I'll just see what happens when I say he has "intellectual differences."
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