When people meet my daughters, they know instantly that they are so very different from each other. You can see it on their faces, as they're about to launch into the air at Mall of America at Nickelodeon Universe.
One is looking down and talking herself through the next steps. The other is looking up with pure anticipation of the rush.
One is analytical. One loves the gray areas.
One sees adventure in the unknown. One needs all the details.
One loves the flow of a lazy day. One craves structure.
Their differences are a big reason why we travel. Why we go out of our comfort zone. Why we make them both push their limits with new experiences.
There are so many times that I wasn't sure we could conquer the next adventure as a special needs family, but somehow we always found a way. We practiced. We gathered the tools. We did the work to create the fun!
My "job" is to help you, the special needs parent, the teacher, the therapist, write an awesome IEP to help a child succeed. But why do we go through all of the tears, frustrations and endless hours of meetings.
For moments like this.
For memories outside of the classroom.
For helping children of all abilities stretch their limits.
When we put limits on children with special needs, we put limits on the whole family.
It's time we think beyond the classroom curriculum and get to know HOW a child learns and help them get to the adventures they crave.
Or maybe the next adventure is to the local community summer festival.
Whichever adventure a family or child is seeking, let's work together to help them get there. To gain the skills. To not just think about conquering the next test, but how to build their confidence and skills in the real world.
Note: Tickets to Nickelodeon Universe and SeaLife were provided by Mall of America in exchange for sharing our adventure. My opinions of the trip are of my own and truthfully... we can't wait to go back!
If you sit at an IEP table, this checklist is for you! Parents, teachers, therapists and support team members... you can all use this tool for your next IEP meeting!