Recently I was asked to share our family's "Miriam Story". Miriam School is a private school located in Webster Groves, MO that serves children with learning disabilities.
Now that back-to-school season is upon us, it isn’t unusual to hear an audible, collective sigh of relief among
parents as they drop their kids off each morning. Carefree summer days
are great, but after a few weeks juggling work while keeping kids
entertained in things other than screens is anything but relaxing.
However, I remember when I’d give anything for the school year to be
over for my child.
I vividly recall the morning of my son Noah’s first day of
kindergarten. He and I entered into a sort of wrestling match to get him
dressed for school. When he refused to walk to the car I carried him
while he kicked and screamed in protest. He unbelted himself as quickly
as I belted him back in. By the time we reached school, we were both
exhausted, but getting him into the car proved to be much easier than
getting him out. He held onto the back of the driver’s headrest with a
death grip. This tearful battle continued for weeks yet when it subsided
other troubles cropped up at school.
Noah is on the autism spectrum and struggles with a host of learning
challenges including expressive language, sensory processing,
hand-writing, reading comprehension, and social skills. But, the big
hairy challenge which covers every inch of his being is anxiety – the
cornerstone that links kids on the spectrum together. It’s part of their
fabric and not something one can simply medicate away.
After Noah’s first year of school, we were introduced to Miriam and
began enrolling him in social skills classes through the Learning
Center. For years, we continued to supplement his education in this way,
but it wasn’t enough. Despite monthly “team meetings” with his teachers
and therapists, the gap between him and his peers continued to grow. By
the time he hit fourth grade, social circles had completely inched him
out. He felt defeated and was becoming more withdrawn each day.
“Mom, it’s not like kids are mean to me…it’s just that they completely ignore me,” he said.
Fast forward to today, Noah is in his second year at Miriam School.
He looks forward to going to school every day. He has a solid, circle of
friends and he’s thriving. In the evenings he now asks for extra
reading time before bed.
Extra reading time!
When I asked Noah what he liked most about Miriam School his answer
took me by surprise. He didn’t mention the school’s gigantic OT room
complete with a ball pit, obstacle course and a variety of swings. He
didn’t say it was because he now has a bunch of friends who appreciate
and share his unique sense of humor. He didn’t refer to Miriam’s dynamic
team of teachers and therapists who never tire of unlocking his
potential. Instead, Noah said, “Miriam School makes me feel safe.”
Me too, buddy.
As a parent, Miriam School gives me the assurance I am giving my
child the best chance at life. I trust the teachers and therapists will
do all they humanly can – to ensure my son is successful. And, it
reminds me of a quote by Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you
said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how
you made them feel.”
I’m so grateful to Miriam School for helping kids and their families feel safe and good and enough.