Sunday, July 8, 2012

Out of My Mind

I read "Out of My Mind" by Sharon Draper this weekend. I had heard about the book a couple of years ago and was told that it was probably a little old for Lucien at that time. I decided to read it to see if I thought he was ready for it. He is. I would like everyone who knows Lucien or another kid with CP to read this book. It is written in the "voice" of Melody, an eleven year old girl who has CP. She doesn't walk. She doesn't talk. She really can't do anything independently, but she is exceptionally bright. No one know because she can't speak. In fact, her mother was told by a "specialist" that she is profoundly mentally retarded. After years of spending hours each day in a contained classroom, a teacher comes along who sees Melody for the bright girl that she is. The book chronicles the ups and downs of being a fifth grader who struggles to find acceptance in an inclusive setting.

I was able to find many similarities and many differences between Melody and Lucien. Though Lucien is able to speak it is often difficult for to speak clearly enough to be understood. It can be a source of frustration. Lucien does rely on an adult at school to assist him in many areas, but he is also very independent and tries to do things himself or with the help of a friend. Lucien has been very fortunate in that he has always had a wonderful circle of friends and has not struggled with acceptance as Melody did. And, no one who knows Lucien has ever doubted his intelligence. Strangers are another story...

I want Lucien to read this story because I want him to know he's not alone in his disability. I want him to know that even though he struggles with things that are a breeze for a "typical" 10 year-old, he is more fortunate than a lot of children.

I'm glad I read this book. As a parent of a child with special needs, I feel like I need to or should be perfect. I've always felt like I shouldn't get angry with Lucien. That I need to be patient all the time. This story gave me permission to be human. We are parents. Whether our children are born perfectly healthy or disabled in one way or another, we are only human. Will will become frustrated. Our patience is not without limits. We will get angry and we may yell. I'm not a perfect mom, but I do love my children with all of my heart.