Audio 4.2: Janice Fialka

Janice, the mother of two children, including Micah who has intellectual disabilities, talks about her experiences with teachers sometimes only focusing on the disability and not the whole child (running time: 1 min., 56 sec.).


View Transcript


I remember one time a teacher called, saying, I have to talk to you about some of the behavior that we’re seeing in Micah in the math class. And I don’t know how I had the chutzpah at that moment but I said, “Well, before we talk about that, can you tell me two things that he’s doing well?” And to my surprise and delight, she said, “oh yes, I can tell you.” And she told me, and then she said “now can I tell you what the issues are?” I think that sometimes perhaps teachers are – maybe because they’re busy or maybe they’re not quite sure exactly how to share the information. They may just zoom into the information and not giving us time to sort of sit with them and be with them. So those are some of my thoughts, I think also I’m not sure how you always do this but I know that as a parent I want to feel a sense that my child is not just the disability or just the delay or just the issues that arise in the classroom or the childcare setting or, you know, the home-based setting, wherever it might be. That he or she is so much more than that and yes, that’s one part of their life, but it’s not the entire part.

For the teacher, the provider, the childcare worker, is that if we as parents express strong emotions, is not to take it personally. That you know if we’re expressing fear or we don’t agree at all is to be, I guess the advice for the teachers would be: sit with it, don’t take it personally. For the most part, it’s not about you. It’s just that we’re experiencing a range of emotion.