“We are the children of God”. Romans 8:16
The PJ Foundation is publishing a calendar for the year 2013. The children featured in the calendar are all children with disabilities, including PJ. Most of our “calendar kids” attend one of the Special Education schools in Detroit. I know about the push for inclusion, but some of our special kids need to be in a center based program. Our calendar kids have various and multiple disabilities. PJ does not have multiple disabilities, but he has multiple deficits.
In 1975, the same year that PJ was born, the Education For All Handicapped Children Act was passed. It said that handicapped children must be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Thank God! Were it not for that law, I can’t say that I would have sent PJ to school. He was so difficult in the beginning, that I was afraid to let him out of my sight. Thank God for the special education teachers who made me feel that they could handle his behavior. I owe a debt of gratitude to Detroit Public Schools Special Education Department.
I mentioned in a previous entry about how our children were treated before special education started. In the beginning, they were tied to a wheel in the schoolyard and as they were walking around the wheel, other children threw stones at them. That story still gives me chills. In the 1940s when I was in school, the ones with difficult behaviors, such as PJ were kept at home. Others were sent to school and just sat in the back of the class, ignored by teachers and fellow students.
How far we have come! We may not be where we want to be, but we are not where we used to be. I am so proud to present some of these students in our calendar. Our students do not get much attention and we want to give them a chance to shine. We are going to make this an annual project and we already have children lined up for the 2014 calendar. It is called the “Inspired By Autism” calendar. The cover features PJ’s art (of course) a picture of PJ and a poem ” Special Special Kid” that I wrote for him. The poem is included in my book.
The poem contains the words from a song, “My Funny Valentine” that I used to sing to PJ. Though I have no my singing voice, PJ did not care. He loved for me to sing that song to him and it was almost as if he understood the words. After one of our singing sessions, I was inspired to write the poem. PJ loves to sing, too. Although he cannot sing the words, he is good with the melody and the rhythm.
At one point, Pervis Sr. tried to sing with PJ to encourage him. It did not work too well because Pervis Sr. was a bass singer and PJ was trying to imitate his father’s voice. PJ still enjoys singing, but you can’t get him to sing on cue. You can’t even get him to sing the complete song. He sings the part that he likes and only if he feels like it. His sister, Stephanie, tried to give him voice lessons, but there were some notes that he didn’t like and he would hit her when she hit one of those notes. So, “My Funny Valentine” became “our song’. I could calm him down with it.
Though I wrote the poem for PJ, it applies to all our special kids. It also applies to all our special mothers, though I wrote a poem for them “Special Special Mothers”, which is also included in “Inspired By Autism” and in a previous blog post. We special mothers love our special children, no matter the challenges, and as the poet Kahlil Gibran says of love, “As love is for your growth, it is also for your pruning.”
If you are interested in purchasing the calendar, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also get it at zoelifepub.com.
Until next time: May you have Peace. Love, and Prosperity in your life.