My son Henry, who has Down syndrome, goes to a school dedicated to inclusion, where students of many levels of ability learn together, and learning how to get along is considered an essential part of their education.
Middle school kids can be dramatic, and over-sensitive, but sometimes they get a bad rap. Sometimes what we expect out of them is far less than they are capable of, especially when it comes to empathy and compassion. Sometimes they even outdo the adults around them.
She ascends the block, tugging her suit down in back. Daily practice has built her endurance and honed her strokes. Before hunching into the starting position, she places the goggles over her eyes like a superhero donning his mask, the edges of her lips dropping in determination.
As I watch my eldest daughter trudge through these years of emotional ambiguity, forming friendships, losing friendships, fighting for friendships, and crying over friendships, I struggle with letting her figure out some of the intricacies of life on her own.
The fact my friend wasn't interested in girls really wasn't what it was about anyway. It was about a friendship that gave me confidence and helped me through really difficult and awkward times. It was a friendship that I will forever cherish.
Even I, who did not suffer first hand from bullying, can remember being comforted by the fact that all of my peers would be wearing the same thing, regardless of how popular, fashionable, beautiful, or wealthy they may be.
We held our ground. For nearly a year. It wasn't easy. Our daughter's increasing anxiety, her distress at being tagged "a nobody with no Instagram" forced us to take a closer look at what was actually going on. We had to look no further than our own middle school years.
Money does not solve all problems but, in this case, more equitable funding and educational innovation for the middle grades will demonstrate our commitment to ensuring our children get the highest quality education for the entirety of their K-12 careers.
I do not hate math. I respect math. I did well in math. But because I've not used many math skills beyond the basics in my adult life, I've often questioned our education system's obsession with math and its dominance in our classrooms.
My high school years were a pot smoke-filled haze of bad decisions. For a variety of reasons, including a cross-country move at the age of 14 and the break-up of my parents' marriage, I was not a happy girl during my high school years.
It is only when parents consider the why behind a child's upsetting behavior and then join with their child in a way that fosters safety and the sense that we're on their side that we can address their problems with them in a way that is clean and effective.
It was a Sunday morning in late September -- the day after my birthday. I was fuzzily turning pancakes on the griddle while Jack perched at the counter flicking the top to the syrup open and closed and open and closed. Out of nowhere, he asked, "Why was I born with autism?"