Monday, August 25, 2014

Advice: Sister Struggling in the Classroom

I need to vent and could use some advice. My sister, Angelina was diagnosed with epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where the person has seizures, which she has been able to handle with the use of multiply medications. Cerebral palsy is a combination of impaired muscle coordination and damage to the brain before or at birth. Due to her CP, she doesn’t have strength on her entire right side. When she was younger she was in physical and occupational therapy, where they tried to strengthen it. She now and for the rest of her life will wear a brace on her right leg, which helps her walk and keep her leg/foot stable. Those are just the physical effects of her cerebral palsy but mentally it’s a just as difficult.  This brain damage is the cause of her inability to ever reaching a high level of reading. Having said that, she is a very smart girl, she loves animals and has the most amazing imagination! This year she started third grade and every morning she cries and pleas with my mom, saying “don’t make me go”, “ I hate it there” and other things that break mom’s  heart. When I pick her up at the end of the day I ask her how her day ways and she just has this tired look on her face and says “good” but I know the truth. My mum comes up to me always with tears in her eyes, telling me about how the kids make fun of her, they ask why she is reading “baby books” and other  comment that aren’t meant to hurt but they do to a nine year old. For school Lina has an IEP or an individual educational plan; this means she get accommodations when in the class room such as having the directions read to her, extra time and taking her tests in a smaller classroom. Being a dyslexic myself, I know how helpful the accommodations are. Her teachers are not following her IEP. Every day she comes home with a folder filled with pages cover in red markings that I can see break my mom’s heart to look at. All I want to do is go up to her teacher and giver a peace of my mind. I really can’t take another day of my mom sobbing into the phone with my dad, as my sister cries in her room about how she’s “stupid” and “can’t do anything.” So if you have any advice i would really appreciates it! Just know I’m not doing this for reblogs/followers or whatever, I’m doing this because I hate seeing my energetic, happy, little sister so sad and depressed to wake up and go to school every day.

I'm so sorry your sister is going through that.  As someone with CP myself I often resented my own accommodations because they set me apart from my classmates.  I was already different enough and didn't want more reasons to be set apart.

First, I'd say it's your sister's teacher's responsibility to create the culture in that classroom.  The year I struggled the most, I had a really closed-minded teacher, who was oblivious to the way her special treatment hurt me.  Your parents are completely within their rights to go in and speak to your sister's teacher if something similar is going on there.  Your sister deserves to be able to enjoy school as much as possible.

And also, if there is any part of school your sister enjoys, make a big deal out of it.  Celebrate that with her.  As her sister, it may not seem like you can do much, but I bet she looks up to you.  You and your parents can help her by building her self esteem.  Encouraging her, and celebrating with her when she accomplishes a goal (big or small).  Make a point to comment on all the things she's really good at.  Is she kind?  Caring?  Helpful?  Then tell her, and tell her a lot.  Because those are the things that make good people, not the grades you get in school.  (And that's not saying that school is not important, because it definitely is) but there is more to life than academics.  

Be that encourager for your sister.  That listening ear.  Tell her all the ways she's smart.  Focus on all the things she CAN do, so that, over time, she'll be able to focus on those things, too.

Hope this helps!

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