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The Elevator Question

This week I have been bombarded with things to do before the big move.  Things to pack, things to clean, things to organize, and things to wrap up.  On top of the obvious aspects to moving, I’m trying to get Ewan’s IEP review in before I hit the road.  Over the years IEP meetings have run the gamut of resembling a war room meeting to a board room meeting to a social outing.  Often with IEP meetings, the situation sets the tone and we’ve found ourselves in some interesting situations over the years from the scary, to the stressful, to the hilarious—one thing’s for sure, when it comes to Ewan, life is rarely boring.  Yet something profound hit me this morning as I sat filling out a form for Ewan—I realized the words, ‘just how far he’s come’ aren’t just lip service, they are absolutely, 100% true. 


I remember Ewan’s early intervention years quite clearly—maybe because my stress level was somewhere in the upper atmosphere during those years, maybe because of the uncertainty over the future but I remember his goals, his difficulties, his strengths, the whole enchilada like it was yesterday.  I remember our IFSP meetings in my living room (and don’t I wish IEP meetings were also in my living room…) and I remember therapy traveling from the living room to the bedroom to the bathroom to outside to the store to the playground.  I remember very basic goals of getting dressed, walking up and down stairs, saying the word ‘mama’.  Today I sat down and filled out a form that brought the past up to today in an instant.  Today I answered ‘never’ when I used to answer ‘always’.  Today I thought how much easier life has become for Ewan over the years.  Today I saw just how far he really had come. 


Today I answered the elevator question. 


It’s a rather simple question but profound in both its meaning and history.  The question was:  “Does your child seem afraid of riding in elevators or on escalators?”  Today I answered NEVER, but several years ago I would have answered with an emphatic “ALWAYS!”  In one question, I was instantly brought back to the time we had to take Ewan up to an EEG test at a local hospital.  My husband and I were carrying Ewan through the hospital and because elevators were peppered throughout the building at the rate of one for every 10 feet, we had thrown a blanket over Ewan’s head and were literally RUNNING from the elevators in search of the stairwells—my husband resembling a professional NFL running back.  At the time, Ewan had an extreme obsession with elevators—the kind of obsession that you love to hate.  He would scream and cry to get to one and see the buttons and those magical sliding doors then once inside he would scream bloody murder at the top of his lungs as it began moving.   So as my husband and I raced throughout the hospital with a child wrapped up like a blind burrito we were laughing hysterically knowing what we must look like to everyone else.  Today, we merely walk in the elevator like everyone else whereupon Ewan and Vaughn push all the buttons they can and THEY giggle hysterically.  Oh how amazing the human nervous system can be—amazing and plastic.  Sometimes you have the ability to sit back and marvel at just how organized a disorganized sensory system can become.  A transformation that can take your breath away and give you hope like nothing else on earth.


Ewan’s first IEP meeting involved trying to test a mostly non-verbal child who rarely sat still.  Ewan’s first IEP meeting involved a lot of questions about what he could and couldn’t do and where he’d be in a few years. Today the meetings are about how to get Ewan to stop talking, to say things appropriately rather than having no speech at all.  Today the meetings are about how successful Ewan is in math and how he’s learned to read and to love doing it.  Today the meetings are not about questions of what Ewan can understand but rather how can we help him truly integrate into society and into the world. 


So in the words of the immortal Dr. Seuss, congratulations Ewan, Today is your day, you’re off to great places, you’re off and away!  You have brains in your head and shoes on your feet.  You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.  You’re on your own and you know what you know and YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go (which may or may not include an elevator)!!


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