a blog about raising a daughter with cerebral palsy and learning unexpected lessons along the way

Monday, September 9, 2013

Words to Oia, Our Player

An unknown number rang my cell late Tuesday morning. You were at school, probably working hard, and soaking in all that you could. I rushed to my phone and answered the call quickly just as I always do while you are away. I worry about you when you aren't with me. Tuesday's call was about you.

I hesitate to tell you who it was or why she was calling. I will tell you though. Just use what I am about to tell you as fuel for your sweet lil' fire. And then, play on.

The call was from your school PT. She was kind to contact me. She wanted to seek my advice on an issue that effects your safety and well-being while at school. The largest concern and reason for her call was in regards to your safety during PE, which you have twice a week. I know you love that. But anyways, you see, your love of running is a heart-attack to others watching you. But Oia, don't get me wrong. We are thankful you can run and your Daddy and I WANT you to. However, your springy and often clumsy style creates a tense situation for those in charge of you while inside a gym of combined classes. Your PT wanted to know how the classroom assistant should best protect you during these classes. She asked if I wanted you to participate by running and playing in the mix of the other kids or should you, during more involved and busy activities, be pulled to the side with the aide, to practice "other skills"? She talked for awhile and I politely listened. I was formulating my response the entire time. She continued to talk and finally mentioned it *might* be beneficial for you to learn the rules of some PE games, like baseball, or tag, as a spectator, stating "because that's what she'll always be anyways, right?"

I know, Oia. It numbed me, too. But don't worry, I told her she was wrong.

I told her I strongly disagreed. I told her you throw a ball straighter than I do and who knows what your involvement in sports as a teenager or adult might be. I told her that you always want to be a part of the game, even if that means you might fall down, and God forbid, even get hurt. Thankfully, you usually rebound from a fall well. I told her I have no clue what role you'll play in athletics one day, if you even choose to have a role at all. I also told her I was pretty sure that if sports do become your niche that it wouldn't be from the slide lines as a spectator. And I also told her that you, Oia, would decide what you wanted to do; spectate or play, and that we, teachers included, would honor that decision. And in addition, we would not only honor that decision but that we would modify and assist in such a way that allows you to more safely be a part of the game. You want to play? Fine. We make sure it happens. You'd rather watch? That's okay too. It shall always be your choice. Always. Never by the will of others.

I wish I had been quicker with my thoughts and words as to kindly remind your PT of the wonderful organization the Special Olympics is to other individuals like you. I'm willing to bet that none of those athletes spent their childhood practicing "other skills" from the sidelines. And if they did, they have every right to say "Look at me now!" In restrospect though, I stood a strong ground. For you. I'm so happy I did. I stuck up for you and I always will. That's one thing you'll never have to worry about.

Come Friday, I will attend PE with you. You and me, girl. I will be your "assistant" for the full session and together, we will show them how it's done. We will run, jump, hop, skip, dance, or whatever it is we need to do. We make a good team, you and I. Here's to hoping your PT enjoys being our spectator.


  1. Good for you Mo!
    I just wish I could be the spectator to watch both of you play.
    YOU GO GIRLS! :)

  2. this makes me soo mad hang in their

  3. I would like to shake that PT myself. Certainly I have feared for my daughter when she runs down a hill full tilt but what good would I do her to tell her she isn't capable? All kids need challenging experiences to grow, even when it scares the caregivers, but not letting a child with CP engage in movement activities flies in the face of the basis of PT-doing something creates the ability to do something. Good for you, Mo, you rock.

  4. Ooof! That PT made me angry. As an early childhood SPED teacher,I wrote accommodations for one to one support on uneven ground, playground climbing equipment, and physical education assistance. I "spotted" my students on the playground and in the free-play gym. Now, as a parent, I spotted the same way as my little guy learned to navigate the group activities at the library and the climbing equipment on the playground. I have a much better understanding of the reliance of children when they fall. At the very least, the Least Restrictive Environment is on your side. You should not need to go to PE with her for her to be able to participate, but if it is the quickest way to make the adults across Oia's environments better understand her interests and abilities.

  5. Good for you! It sounds like you handled that with such grace. I've always told Wade's teachers that if he gets hurt or stepped on or even breaks a bone, it's all okay. He's a kid. Lots of kids get hurt on the playground and in the gym. It's called life, and we like to live it to its fullest. I'm sure the two of you will show them how it's done!