I have a new companion. She’s a six-month old kitten who arrived unexpectedly to a hardened heart. After losing a horse and two dogs last summer, I swore off any more pets. It’s just too painful when they go. And…sigh…they all must go.
Also, before we get into this, let me add, that I am NOT a cat person. I have another cat in the house, and at best, we tolerate each other. So, I found myself surprised when my daughter called me crying about her little kitten, Zelda.
You see, Zelda has a serious condition that three vets can’t seem to diagnose or cure. She was just a little stay newborn kitten and abandoned – probably by her mother and probably due to her illness – on the streets of Fresno. My daughter’s friend found her and brought the tiny kitten to her. She was a bottle baby and stole hearts from the start.
Zelda is thriving because we changed her environment. The same can be true of kids with learning disabilities.
At about one month, Zelda became covered in lesions. The vet diagnosed them as mast cells. Daunting, yes, but not necessarily a death sentence. Every few weeks, Zelda grew sick, more lesions covered her body, and her eyes were slowly growing shut.
We did notice one thing. When my daughter brought Zelda home for Christmas, she grew better every day, so when Natalie called me crying about Zelda’s latest relapse, I said, “Get in your car and bring her here. It must be something in her environment that’s causing this.”
Natalie arrived, cone-kitten in tow with a plethora of medications and treatments. I listened dutifully and followed directions. I was prepared for a short life with Zelda. What I wasn’t prepared for was falling in love with her. I was equally shocked by her insane ability to thrive. This kitten has the will to live – and to live big.
It made me think of the kids with learning disabilities. So often, if we change their environment, they can thrive. Even the littlest things can make a huge difference. Following are some tips to help you if you think your child or student needs a change in environment:
Change classrooms if your child is struggling, unhappy, throwing fits, or showing an inability to thrive. Put pressure on administration if need be. You are your child’s best advocate.
Change schools if you’ve already changed classrooms and you still aren’t seeing improvement. Many parents worry about their child’s social needs and won’t move them when their child is suffering every moment of the day. Social needs don’t trump a child’s misery for seven hours a day.
Home school your child if it’s a possibility. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends have been known to pitch in to make this work. There are now many home school charter schools available that can help your child have a happier schooling experience as well.
Private schools can be an option. Many are affordable and can make a huge difference in your child’s life. Yes, you’ll need to sacrifice, but it’s better to do it now than when your child is at a point where he/she is at risk for other life-daunting things like drug addiction or suicide. (yes, these plague teens and adults with learning disabilities)
Charter schools can be a life saver for your child. Many have lower class numbers or specialize in certain subjects such as language arts or math.
If you can’t change your child’s physical setting, then meet with teachers and administrators to change your child’s routine. Perhaps a positive behavior plan can be put into place or a one-on-one aide added to your child’s day to help bring about a positive change.
Don’t just accept status quo if your child is gravely unhappy, throwing fits, or failing. There are many options and choices that you have these days to help your child thrive.
Zelda is doing great. She still carries the scars of her unnamed disease, just as kids with learning issues do. She was just fit for a new cone, and she is holding her own without any medications. We hope one day she will be cone free.
But I know one thing: If we hadn’t changed her environment, she wouldn’t be here now – a happy, semi-healthy kitten who manages to get into all kinds of trouble in her busy days.