Tina Szymczak

I feel like a failure

And I have felt like that for quite some time

I don’t feel like a failure for everything – just a failure in creating inclusive opportunities for my son and other children with disabilities. I feel like I should walk the path encouraging people along the way to partake of our knowledge about inclusion and what it means not just for our children with disabilities but rather for everyone in the community.

When Corbin was younger we tried many preschool activities – all of which he was asked to leave due to aggression and inability to follow the rules. Those were early years and we had no answers as to why he did what he did and so we didn’t know what to tell staff of these programs.

Then later there were the times that we put him activities like private swim lessons, karate and Cub Scouts. By this time I felt more knowledgeable and stronger. I wrote out information for them and spoke to each instructor/leader and for the most part he did pretty well. At the time we felt he was being included both at school and in the community. It was exhausting for me though as I was the go to person to trouble shoot any difficulties that he encountered.

I send my children to Catholic school here in our hometown – which means they are supposed to be inclusive – it’s a point of pride for them. Never was it so clear to me that inclusion wasn’t happening than the day of the Grade 5 Christmas lunch with parents. I was running late that day but only by a few moments – when I entered the gymnasium families were sitting together with other families.

There in the back of the room at a table far away from the rest sat my son and his then 5 year olds brother. My throat caught and I immediately wanted to cry and scream at the same time. The Educational Assistant stood off to one side, completely unengaged and uninterested. Why didn’t she facilitate him joining another family group – or pull his table over to join another? But I said nothing, I just felt so unbelievably sad, disillusioned, and tired. So very very tired of fighting the good fight.

Things are better now he is at high school – he has a group of friends from elementary school that he hangs with as well as some new friends he has met there. But what about now? What about for all the kids coming down the line whose parents want them to be included?

My heart breaks a little each time a flyer for a recreational activity specifically for those with “special needs” crosses my desk. Even worse are the ones that are disability specific – further segregating children who are our most vulnerable and who need help to make friends and keep them. But I also understand because the world isn’t always accepting but I know the times my son felt include were the best times of his life – like when he was on the school soccer team and at the very end he started to cry – boys around him told him not to worry that they lost and Corbin managed to sob “but I won’t get to hang out with all of you all the time”

And to be honest I am not innocent. I too bowed to pressure and put him in Therapeutic horseback riding and in “Special Stars” soccer (love the man who runs it – hate the name). So who am I to espouse the virtues of inclusion? I have allowed my own child to do segregated activities and I feel like I am betraying all those who have gone before us who never settled for anything less than equality

September 22, 2015

Like A Failure

I feel like a failure And I have felt like that for quite some time I don’t feel like a failure for everything – just a failure in creating inclusive opportunities for my son and other children with disabilities. I feel like I should walk the path encouraging people along the way to partake of our knowledge about inclusion and what it means not just for our children with disabilities but rather for everyone in the community. When Corbin was younger we tried many preschool activities – all of which he was asked to leave due to aggression and inability to follow the rules. Those were early years and we had no answers as to why he did what he […]
September 11, 2015

Double Edged Sword

As soon as I walk through the door he throws himself toward me, his face pinched with anger he shouts with disgust in his voice “Did you and Dad buy me a Chromebook?” “hunh?What?” I respond while I put down my bags and wait for him to do a better job explaining himself. “There’s a Chromebook at school with my name on it. Did you do that?” he still sounds so angry and that anger is not making sense to me. I mean, who wouldn’t want a Chromebook? But I’m piecing things together as he stands there, his arms crossed, tapping his foot with impatience. “Look, Buddy, when we went to see that doctor and they did all those activities […]
September 10, 2015

World Suicide Prevention Day

My latest battle with depression is too recent and raw to write about yet but I wanted to acknowledge it is World Suicide Prevention Day so here is my post from 2010 Tuesday December 11th, 1990 Right now I am sitting in front of my locker and no one knows what I have done. I’m scared. Scared that everyone will hate me and no one will understand what I’ve just done. Scared to live though. I really am. I honestly can’t see a future. I want someone to help me, to take away the hurt and make me happy but no one can. Please forgive me for I am so sorry. ______________________________________________________________ That was part of the suicide note I […]
May 28, 2011

The War I Want To Wage

If it had been my time to write this post a few weeks ago it would have been very different. It also wouldn’t have been a post that belonged on a site called Hopeful Parents. No, it would have been the antithesis of hope. It would have been an extremely dark and depressing piece.The month of April and most of May were so depressing that I completely lost that time. I didn’t just forget to write my piece for the 27th of last month, I didn’t even know the 27th had come and gone. — Originally posted at  Hopeful Parents… Grief and sadness and desperation and fear and worry and angst and exhaustion and and and . . . . […]