Probably one of the hardest things a mother can do is ask for help. When my son was in elementary school, I was able to explain to all of the teachers that he was visually impaired. Without any official accommodations, they were always amazing to work with. They had him sit in the front of the class and made sure he had larger print when needed. He always made straight A's and passed the FCAT with 4s and 5s, so why should we "label" him and make him go through all of the things that come with an official plan? Plus, I watched my brothers go through school being told they would have to work harder than anyone else just to keep up. They managed to excel. If I could teach my son the same thing, it would make him stronger, right?
Once he hit middle school, things got much harder. First of all, he had numerous teachers who had hundreds of students. They didn't have the time to make special accommodations. Plus, the writing in the books had suddenly become much smaller. For the first time, my son said he was having difficulty. All of a sudden, it felt like it was my own pride holding my son back. That wasn't right. I made the call to get him set up with an official Individual Education Plan (IEP) and we got involved in the Division of Blind Services (DBS).
Little did I know how much our lives would change. All of a sudden, people were bending over backwards to make sure my son had the accommodations needed. Within weeks, we had large print books for him, CCTVs in the classrooms, and teachers that embraced him and helped him however they could. Also, because he was given more time on tests and they were given in large print, there were no longer any 4s on the FCAT. He got all 5s. I never realized that by trying to make him "stronger" I was actually holding him back.
Now, DBS and the Independent Living for the Adult Blind (ILAB) got him involved in a summer work program and he gets to go do so many amazing things with other teenage visually impaired children -- things I could never afford to do for him myself. They are talking about giving him tours NOW of the University he wants to attend where he wants to be an aeronautical engineer. He's only 14 and already I feel like there's no way he can do anything but succeed and it's because of all of the love and support of family and friends, but it's also because of that day when I got the courage to call for help for my son. Sometimes, it's okay to ask for help. It doesn't make you weaker. In fact, it can open up a whole new world!