For about eight years, my mom fought for my education and the head of the special education was getting tired of seeing her at meetings. Around 1978, the Board of Education had to put a parent on the board. Guess who the parents have voted to be on it?
They elected my mom to be on it. The people on the board hated it because they knew what my mom was like. Every meeting she talked about the long bus ride I had and how it was against the law for a child to be on the bus more than an hour. Another thing she said was how I was not being taught.
Before I was born, my mom was a secretary of the regional director of Kodak. So she talked to many important people while she worked. Mom knew when she could put pressure on the board and when not to. In the spring of 1980, I don’t know what happened, but after a meeting, the head of the board told her that I could go to a new school in the fall. From what I gathered from my mom, he did it to see what she would do when I failed out.
The school was a lot closer to our home so the bus ride was shorter. The program had actual grades. I was put in fourth grade. I was actually being taught and the teacher was pleased with how I was doing. There was one subject that I was having trouble in, and the subject was reading. Being nonverbal, reading is naturally harder for the person. When a child starts to read, they read out loud. I could not do that. My teacher told her it might be helpful to get extra reading lessons after school. That was what I did over three or four years.
Fourth and fifth grades were reverse mainstreaming, where the regular students came in our classroom to learn. It was pretty nice.
I then went to Lakeview Junior School in Doewners Grove, Illinois. I was mainstreamed in all regular classes except reading. I was making a lot of friends and I had an aide in all of my classes.
In science and social studies, the same students were in both classes. For me, that was the best thing that happened to me because we got to know each other. We bonded better than any other grade or subject.
Since this was during sixth grade, I knew them for three years. It was like I was making friends who liked me. I was around the age of when boys noticed girls. In science and social studies, there were several pretty girls.
Middle of seventh grade, my teacher of reading said let’s try to put you in sixth grade reading. I did really well so when I went to eighth grade, they put me in a regular eighth grade reading. When I graduated, I was on the honor roll.
In seventh and eighth grade, we had school dances at night. My dad drove me to the dances and waited outside for me because it was not really close to home. My friend Mike, who also has Cerebral Palsy, always came to the dances. We liked two girls. It was our mission to talk to them. That seldom happened, but it was fun trying.
Being nonverbal it is difficult to get dates because women don’t really know how to intercept with me. It gets so frustrating to not find a girlfriend. Even now it is difficult. Sometimes it gets very lonely when you don’t have something fun to do. As I get older, it is not easy to say that I will meet someone after many years of trying. Some friends keep saying it will happen. In my heart, I want to believe it, but in my head, it says that it is not going to happen.
Looking back at my entire education. I would say junior high was the best time for me because I had the help that I needed and made a lot of friends. In the next blog post, you will see how high school was a lot different in a negative way.