Sunday, November 1, 2009


A good partner makes all the difference. Ms. T has so far, proven to me, to be a wonderful partner for Aidan. She is really the biggest key to making this full-inclusion experience work. She has been with the district for 15 years as a health care assistant. And for most of those years she has been working with special needs children in full-inclusion. When I first thought of having Aidan fully-included in a regular school, I strongly considered hiring my own private assistant for Aidan. My thought was that I could have complete control and monitoring of my own hired aide, and that person would have complete accountability to me. But for various reasons, I decided to go with the district provided assistant. Though, Ms. T wasn't just assigned to Aidan, I specifically requested her. I became familiar with her from her summer working at Aidan's special ed preschool in his classroom. Aidan's preschool teacher thought very highly of Ms. T and she recommended Ms. T to me to consider to be Aidan's future aide. Before Aidan's school year at his special ed shool ended, Ms. T and I connected and we were both enthusiastic and excited about working together.
Now that school and their partnership have been in full-swing, I think getting Ms. T was the best thing that could have happened! She is enthusiastic, diligent and caring. She accepts suggestions and directions well. And she even doesn't mind when I ask for the details of the school day....though, she is often more detailed and long-winded then I need. When she reports back to me how things went at school, I am often surprised at the things she does with Aidan. she has proven to not be intimidated or put off by Aidan's idiosyncracies. She has gotten good at reading Aidan's body language and knowing when he would be feeling uncomfortable. She has proactively gotten him up and out of his chair and sat him on her lap for classroom rug time. I've often seen other adults who don't know how to react or don't know what to do when Aidan gets into his hyperextension, stiff posturing. Without my telling, Ms. T knew exactly how to handle him and help him relax. She has been good about getting Aidan into his special equipment. She has even been mindful about maintaining Aidan's integrity. One kid had asked, "Is he wearing a diaper?" And Ms. T responded, "No, it's a pull-up," making it sound a little less babyish. Since Aidan has been vocalizing more, she's really encouraged the children to continue to talk to Aidan and embrace him to get more out of him. She really gets him in the mix and mixes it up with the other children. I learned from her that Aidan likes to play in the play kitchen with the other kids in his class. Who knew? Apparently, younger brother Connor likes to play in the kitchen at school too...little known facts that Dad is not too pleased about or willing to brag about his boys!?
I hope Ms. T is willing to stay with Aidan for a long time. She's told me that she has been with her past kids for several years and usually until the kids change schools for one reason or another. But, I always secretly worry about the future though....what happens when Aidan gets too big and heavy for her to continue to lift for diaper changes, and getting him in and out of equipment? Will they try to assign a male assistant for Aidan? Aidan is probably different from the other kids she's had since he requires maximum assistance, complete lifting for all transfers and positioning. Regardless of what the future holds, at least Ms. T has helped us get off to a great start.


  1. I think that's great that you found Ms. T, it sounds like she really cares about Aidan. I know as a mom that is so reassuring to have someone like that when you can't personally be there. Aidan sounds like he's doing great. We can't wait to meet him and Connor!
    Take care!
    Sharon & Eric

  2. Hi Nancy! Love reading your blog! I have the same fears about losing Casey's aide who is amazing. The school district this year is providing 2 aides for Casey which has helped tremendously. One is an instructional aide and the other is a nursing assistant who does the lifting, diaper changes, range of motion, etc.

  3. Hi Nancy and Aidan Obi-Wan Kenobi! I had to pleasure to meet and feel the warmth and the awareness of Aidan at our recent tennis reunion. When I came into the room I saw him look at me and he seemed to beam and smile wanting to say much to me. His eyes were dancing as I shook his hand and I sensed much excitement. I am so proud of both you and Kevin for loving and caring for Aidan no different from Conner (who also is a good looking boy with a bundle of energy). By the way don’t worry about playing in the kitchen, that’s where they begin to like playing the drums!
    I had taken a class many years ago from one of the best educational professors I have ever had at USC, his name was Dr. Leo Buscaglia. What I learned from him was passed down to all of my students over the years in different ways even on the tennis court! One day during class he brought a visitor to relate her story to all of us. I don’t remember her real name but she left an impression on me forever. I will call her Maria for now. Our classroom was a mini auditorium and she sat in a wheel chair and was somewhat physically contorted. Dr. Buscaglia introduced Maria and said that she had cerebral palsy since birth. Maria began to speak to us in a very slow and slurred fashion but we all understood what she was saying. Her story began from her birth in Central America, and how her parents tried to help her but couldn’t do so in their country. They decided to bring her to the USA and see if they can do anything to improve her physical condition and educate her as well. Maria told us that she was happy at home but became so angry with her parents when they actually moved her. From that point on she refused to communicate in anyway and played dumb. Once school started Maria refused to talk, react or make any gestures, this was all noise to her and she shut them out. Over time they moved her various times from one type of classroom to another each time refusing to react in any way. One day they moved her into a special classroom where she found herself in room with mentally retarded students. All of the students were either making noise or none at all as they only stared at the walls. Now Maria really got angry because they actually thought she was crazy and retarded!! She couldn’t believe or understand why she was placed there!! She was not retarded! She was not crazy!! She began to shut down even further until she realized that she must prove to everyone that she can talk, that she can understand, and that she can think! The light went on for her and she began to plan and think what she must do first. Interesting enough she was raised listening to Spanish but here everyone spoke English!! Maria had to first learn English! Thus began her real education and she began to prove over time that she is more than capable to becoming successful and productive in and out of the classroom. The day that I met Maria in class changed me forever, she proved that there is no excuse for failure and that anything is possible. At that point of the class Dr. Buscaglia announced that Maria was in the PHD program at USC and short of graduating in a few months!! We were all so excited and emotional it was truly a special moment for all of us. Interesting I always thought about her and have told her story many times over the years. One day I was watching TV and thumbing through channels and came across a Teacher of the Year program. They were highlighting a teacher with Cerebral Palsy that was a success in a special education classroom. Yep it was Maria!! Wait to go girl!!
    Nancy and Kevin I can only imagine how much Aidan will give to our world in the future. He will be part of the true Star Trek and beyond, just you wait! Love you all your Coach.


*Certain names have been changed to protect individuals' privacy.

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