I just saw the film Life, Animated. It was spectacular. It captured the reality that one child faced as a result of his autism. He struggled in ways that no one could understand, until, through his passion for Disney animation, his world was revealed. Almost by chance his parents discovered that their child related to sidekicks in Disney animated films. Though he hadn't spoken for years, he began to speak again by mimicking the quirky side characters' dialogue. All the boy's care team of family, friends, teachers and aids found ways to work with his unique language so that he could feel good about himself, and thrive.
The film was spiritually uplifting. From silence came an exchange of ideas, from darkness came the sun. While I rejoiced at the triumph in the film, I was saddened as I thought about my own daughter starting school in the fall. I recognized that school has come to be an emotional prison for her. Because when your kid “just” has a learning disability, or your child “just” has ADHD, then she is only accommodated a bit. It is expected that the slightly disabled child will more or less conform to the norm. Maybe they’ll seat her in the front of the class, but she is still expected to perform like everyone else who don’t have her issues.
My 16-year-old daughter is trapped in a world where she feels that all that matters is school, and all that matters after school is homework. If you don't do homework, or don't do it on time or well, down goes the grade. And in the end it seems to be all about the grade? "What grade did you get?" "Are you making the grade?" She's left to feel that she'll never catch up. She fears she'll always be a step behind. She feels the heavy weight of deficit piling upon deficit. How utterly spiritually debilitating.