Special Services Update

3/18/16

The Invitation

Recently, there has been a viral story circulating online entitled "Mom Moved to Tears by Birthday Party Invitation Sent Home to Her Son". The story is about the family of a nonverbal boy with autism, Timothy, who was recently invited to a birthday party by a classmate. The mother of the birthday boy reports that her son sits next to Timothy in class, and talks about him all the time. Due to this friendship, she wanted to reach out to try to make arrangements for Timothy to come.


Although receiving the invitation was a "wonderful moment", Timothy's mother has always declined birthday invitations due to Timothy's challenges. Timothy is a social boy, who wants to be part of the group. He enjoys typical activities such as swimming, playing soccer and watching Youtube videos, but he becomes overstimulated in crowds. When he is anxious he focuses on opening and closing doors repeatedly. Due to these behaviors Timothy's mother has always politely declined invitations.


But this one was different. It contained a note which described the planned event, the suggestion that perhaps Timothy could come early, and the final sentence contained the following "let's make it work". And so they did-Timothy came early, they played in the bounce house, and the two friends had a great time. The birthday boy's mother states, "I never thought the words 'let's make it work' would impact my life forever", as the friendship has now extended from the two boys to their mothers.


Timothy's mom shares "I want only one thing for our kids-for all kids really, and that is inclusion. All they want is to just feel included and accepted for who they are and what they are-that different is okay...it's just different."


As we move to a more inclusive educational environment in Warwick a few people have approached me and expressed concerns, such as how students of different abilities are going to learn together, and the opinion that smaller self-contained settings benefit students with disabilities. Ultimately, though, don't all students learn at their own pace, even when we try to standardized and regiment instruction? As we continue to shift from differentiated instruction to blended instruction, personalized instruction will become our new normal. Additionally, anytime we place students in a small self-contained setting we must also consider that by doing so we are restricting access to their general education peers. There is no opportunity for friendships to form and birthday party invitations to be sent.


This friendship formed not only because the two boys learned together and sat next to each other, but because the adults in their lives made it work. I am confident we can do the same.


Check out the picture of Timothy at the party and read the story at https://www.yahoo.com/gma/mom-moved-tears-birthday-party-invitation-sent-home-121828006--abc-news-parenting.html.


Here is your Tool of the Week, Instructional Resources and Resources for Evidence-Based Practices, http://www.tooloftheweek.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/TOW-3-7-16-Survival-Guide.pdf


Best,

Jennifer F Connolly, PhD

Director of Special Services