A Parent's Story:

Doing What Works for Our Children:

by Audrey Levy

Fourteen years ago on 9-11, (yes good things do happen on that date) our son Jeremy was born. After a pregnancy of "doing the right thing" to the extreme, we awaited the "perfect" child. We were shocked when the doctors told us "neurologically everything appears to be fine with Jeremy." "However, he has no eyes, and since eyes, ears, and brain all form at the same time, he probably can't hear, and he probably has no brain." This didn't exactly fit into our "perfect plan". Today, Jeremy is a happy, congenial, intelligent, and sensitive young man who happens to wear prosthetic eyes. Based on our biased opinion, he actually is the "perfect child". He thinks being blind and reading Braille is great, and something to be proud of. As for the "whys", we have learned that he is a unique gift, who teaches us and many others about life, love, acceptance, and patience.

Educating Jeremy in the public schools has been difficult. Fitting that square peg in the round hole doesn't always work, no matter how hard you persevere. The educators' premise that "Jeremy can't..." wasn't palatable to us, which made life unpleasant at times. Two camps evolved in the process of Jeremy's education: those who believed in him, and those who didn't. During his 8th grade year, he attended several short term placements at CSDB. These experiences enabled Jeremy to conclude that he can learn, and that the "teachers at CSDB really know how to teach." That was March of 2001. We paid very careful attention to what our son was telling us, although at the time he didn't realize totally what that meant. We realized that Jeremy's revelation would bring about great changes for our family.

On April 2nd, (we don't waste time) Jeremy became a full-time 8th grade residential student at CSDB. Dorm life was a huge change for an only child, but it was a positive change. The trade off for Jeremy is an education with tremendous gains, rising self esteem, and a social life in the dorm. He loves CSDB, but of course misses Mom and Dad, as well as home-cooked meals. As for Mom and Dad, it is a change for us as well, but at last we aren't continually trying to move that concrete wall we found in the public school system. At CSDB, Jeremy is surrounded by people who believe in him, and he can feel the difference. He still wants Mom and Dad involved in his school, and is persistent about having Mom help out as much as possible, including chaperoning for field trips, attending performances and special events, and staying in touch with teachers and dorm supervisors. We have the best of all worlds. We are still involved in our son's education, and our son can finally learn what is necessary to enable him to reach his potential; because he is surrounded by people who recognize it.

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