Over the years, a variety of teachers, therapists, and support staff have played a large part in Jaycee's life. She began therapy in early intervention when she was 2 months old. After early intervention, it was pre-school and later/currently elementary school. Besides summer breaks and illness related pauses, Jaycee has been heavily involved in school or therapy all her life. Jaycee has had roughly 9 years in programs. I have had 9 years experiencing life as a mom of a child in therapy, which is much different from my usual professional role as a speech-language pathologist.
I have written other articles offering tips to professionals based upon my experiences with Jaycee. That was mainly negative experience based. So, I'd like to offer the flip side of it. There are things that some of Jaycee's professionals have done right over the years.
Jaycee can't tell me about her day. She can't answer questions or let me know if something happened. She can't tell me if she had therapy today and how it went. So, that is why I have truly appreciated those professionals who have been her voice to me. Some have sent me text picture messages or emails of something cute or funny that involves Jaycee. I have loved communication notebooks that have allowed information to pass between the teacher and I without feeling like I'm bothering someone or forcing someone to report to me. A therapist who sees me in the hall and actually talks to me for a minute or two about what is going on has been great too! Open communication may seem like a no-brainer but trust me, it isn't!
Acts of Care:
When a professional goes out of their way to show they really care about Jaycee, it is an amazing feeling. The professional who gets her a Christmas gift or a get well soon gift shows that Jaycee isn't just a student to them. The professional that asks me how Jaycee is when she's sick or who checks on her when she's had an appointment shows me that Jaycee matters to their life. The teacher who had classmates make Jaycee get well cards showed me she was an important part of the class. It's great to know people care.
Demonstrates Patience & Respect:
I know Jaycee can be a challenge. I know there are some days that are just plain hard. So, I really appreciate those who can get over the hard days quickly and move on. I like when people can talk about Jaycee's problems and issues by describing the problem without anger or attitude. I like when people don't call her stubborn and some other negative adjective when she acts up. I know Jaycee isn't always easy but I love the professionals who can deal with the behaviors with patience.
Sees Jaycee as A Whole Child:
Jaycee isn't just a child with Down syndrome and educational needs. She has many medical diagnoses, which affect her everyday. Her medical issues have to be factored into her school life. I appreciate when professionals understand Jaycee can't be outside because of an extreme temperature and make accommodations for her to keep her lungs safe. I also appreciate when the professionals don't make me feel bad when Jaycee misses school or appointments due to her health needs. She's sick often. I can't help it. She can't help it. When she's sick, school takes a back seat, and that is just the way her life is.
Seeks My Input:
I have loved it when professionals have included me in conversations about possible goals for her educational plan. A few therapists always call me or email me before Jaycee's annual meeting to check in with me and to talk about the plan for next year. I like feeling that I'm an important part of the process since I am a big part of her life. I love feeling like my opinions matter in the big and small things. After all, in a few years, they will be with different students and I will still be with Jaycee.
Understands Jaycee is Part of a Family:
This may sound like an unimportant point, but hear me out. It's easy to tell someone to do a therapeutic activity or school homework but sometimes it just nearly impossible. It is really important for teachers to understand our family routine and Jaycee's medical requirements. For us, we get home by 4 pm. That gives us 4 hours to eat dinner, do 50 minutes of treatments, bathe, and relax a little before Jaycee heads off to bed. But, Jaycee isn't the only person in our home. Jaycee's brother has needs too. I have often have paper work from my job to do at night. If my husband works overtime, I'm juggling all of this on my own. So sometimes, there is nothing that important from therapy or school for me to feel like conquering when the family is all home at night.
I'm so thankful for all the teachers and therapists in Jaycee's life that have shown me that Jaycee can be well cared for by someone other than myself.