Thursday, October 11, 2007

Declared normal

Victory in Life Department:

When my son was 10 years old, a mental health professional said that that I should "strongly consider" placing him in a full-time (residential or live-in) treatment center. Although I rejected this opinion outright, I still tried to listen to their warnings, and for a while, I was giving him powerful drugs to "keep his mind stable". I was told that he had a permanent mental disability, and that he would probably never be able to lead a normal life.

After a while, I could see that the drugs were doing a lot more harm than good, so I just stopped giving them to him. I came to my senses and rejected their professional conclusions. I staunchly defended my right as a parent to make decisions in the best interest of my child. Instead of relying on the opinions of the experts, I decided to believe in my son's ability to adapt himself to the world around him. Instead of sheltering him from normal kids and normal activities, I did the opposite. I signed him up for archery lessons, then fencing lessons, then Boy Scouts, and then Karate. That's right, instead of putting him a room with soft padded walls, I let him play with bows and arrows, knives and fire, swords and nunchucks. I had an intuition that being around "normal" kids was the best treatment he could get, and to this day I defend my right to make that decision.

Skip forward 8 years. Yesterday, a group of specialists (educators and mental health professionals) summarily decided that my son no longer has any of the symptoms that would enable him to qualify for special education services. In other words, my son has been declared "normal", and he will be required to finish his last year of high school in a regular old classroom. He is going to have to earn his diploma the hard way, and if he sticks with it, he will graduate along with the rest of his class at the end of the year.

You probably can't appreciate what this means - but for my son to be called "normal" after all of these years, it's wonderful. I'm so glad I listened to my intuition. (Thank you, God)

{Hint": there is a reason that they refer to it as "practicing medicine".}

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