Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fiona's big night!

Last night was the school extravaganza for Fiona.  I took a few personal hours from work so that we could leave early enough to get to the Great School and follow Amazing Jane to the college where the event was held.  Last year we got to tour the Great City far more than we would have liked to trying to find the college on our own.

A former governor of our state was there and spoke briefly.  I did not realize until last night that the Great School is the only one of its kind in our entire state.  One school only devoted entirely to people who have traumatic brain injury, or whose brains operate as though they had experienced brain trauma.  (In Fiona's case there is no documentation of brain injury but her abilities, symptoms and behaviors are consistant with those who have)

This gala is also a fund raiser for the school and there were raffles and games to buy before the performance started.  My wife did a "wine pull."  For $20.00 you pick a wrapped bottle of wine and its value will be anywhere from $10 to $200  She got some wine I have never heard of and it looks like it is worth more than $10 and less than $200.  KC had his fortune told which he absolutely loved. The rest of us contented ourselves with some hor d'oeurves and hanging outside on the college grounds, soaking in the warm sun and the refreshing breeze.

While we were out there, KC spied Rob and Fi's cousin N arriving with her daughter C and another relative Z.  Rob is always happy to see them, but KC is too as he and C are about the same age and have become good friends.  Cousin N and I are Facebook friends and social media has helped our connections to become stronger and more easy going.

It is easier to talk when we have that face to face meeting because we each know a bit of what is going on in the other persons life. So instead of using that generic conversation starter, I could ask how her vacation was and what they did etc.It is likewise for her and we gabbed and gabbed till it was time to go in and the show was ready to start.  My wife is more shy --well, a LOT more shy -- than I am and does not like gatherings.  She wisely brought her Kindle and sat in the sun reading a good book during all of this.

The show is always amazing.  The kids all get to really shine in a wide variety of ways. There are short comedy skits, songs, dances, some instrument playing.  Almost you name it.  The school pulls in professionals that work with the kids.  A local comedian helps with the skits and performs them with the kids who do that for example, and there is a dance coach and a singing coach.  As well as the able and enthusiastic school staff who sang back up with abandon!  There is also a magician and my kids loved that. Rob likes watching magic shows and figuring them out.  The littles were just caught up in the amazement of it.

It was over about 8:30 but then we needed to connect with Fiona and there were family pics of all of us together before we walked back to the parking garage.  You pay before you go out and while we standing in line to pay our parking fee, the magician and his bunny got in line behind us.  More excitement!

It was a very late night though with us arriving back at our house after 10 p.m.  So there are tired children still asleep as I write this at 6:30 a.m.  But I am so glad we went, and I am so grateful that the Great School exists and provides the opportunities that it does.

I know it is controversial to say this, but not all kids thrive in an inclusion  school model.  I look at the kids last night, performing and cheering each other on and wish that my Chet had been able to have that type of an experience.  His public school performing events were disasters because he got so overwhelmed and overstimulated and thus acted even more outside the "norm."  Although intellectually this school would not have met his needs, the public school model could not either.  It is not that I am against inclusion and I really believe great care must be used so that we are not just shunting kids out of a traditional setting to make things "easier". But we need to have places where they are just who they are and that is not just okay, it is great.  I don't know what the answer is, but I hope someone smarter than me is out there with great plans for other Great Schools in lots of cities!

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