Last year when I began the process of transitioning from Early Intervention to CPSE (Committee on Preschool Education), I was told by the CPSE Assistant Chairperson to see this not as a meeting to make a decision about my boys’ education but as an on-going process in educating my boys… A process that would continue for the next 18 years. Each time we prepare to reconvene the committee, my stress levels increase with all the unanswered questions and worry that I may not be doing the best, educationally, for my children. I know that I am not alone with this worry and stress. Every parent of a child with special needs experiences this. It’s just that I’m relatively new to it. So, I haven’t quite become accustomed to it yet.
My previous post (http://walkonthehappyside.blogspot.com/2009/02/kindergarten-by-6.html) discussed an epiphany I recently had regarding Brian’s and Michael’s education. A single phone call from Dr. Kathleen Feeley, an expert in the field of educating children with special needs — specifically Autism and Down syndrome — served to relieve about 80% of the stress I’ve been feeling related to the pending educational decisions I have to make on the boys’ behalf. Dr. Feeley voluntarily took the time from her busy schedule to reach out to me — a parent she’d met only once — to talk about educating children with DS and about my advocacy efforts on behalf of people with Down syndrome. It was a most informative conversation which drastically changed my thinking with regards to how I will move forward with the boys’ education in the near future.
I recognize Dr. Feeley’s effort as extraordinary. In her single act of kindness, there is reward on both sides. I imagine reaching out to me made her feel good knowing that she helped me understand a little bit more about what lies ahead for me and my boys. She’s paying it forward. And, for the record, Dr. Feeley has committed her life to such altruistic pursuits. She is also a professor in the autism program at LIU/CW Post, involved with DSAF, the Down Syndrome Advocacy Foundation (http://www.dsafonline.org), and has been active in creating Down syndrome support groups, as well as DS advocacy and research efforts on Long Island. As such, she is helping many children with Down syndrome and many parents of children with Down syndrome… Including me and my boys. So, many thanks to Dr. Kathleen Feeley — truly an Angel Amongst Us.