Sarah Stultz: Never underestimate what your child can do

Published 9:21 pm Monday, August 19, 2019

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz


As I stood outside with my son, waiting for the school bus to arrive Monday morning, I couldn’t help but take a walk down memory lane.

My son, Landon, is 7, and he is starting first grade at Halverson Elementary School.

Some may not say this, but I consider Landon lucky to have received services through the Albert Lea School District for much of his life.

When he wasn’t reaching milestones like he should have been, we were referred to Albert Lea’s early childhood special education program. Therapists and others came to our home, even before he started preschool, to work with him on some of his challenges.

Yes, it’s scary as a parent — and sometimes heartbreaking — to have a child with special needs, but on the other hand, it makes it even more rewarding when he reaches milestones.

Right now, Landon is on a kick of wanting to know the first letter of words. His fallback is “letter B.” If he doesn’t know what a word starts with he’ll say it starts with the letter B.

I then proceed to go through sounding out the first letter of the word, followed by identifying the letter that it starts with, in hopes that he can make the connection with repetition and familiarity.

Last week, we were trying out some new watercolor paints we had bought earlier that day, and instead of painting the Ninja Turtles on the paint paper, we started painting out the letters of his name. With a little prodding, we went through each of the letters until he was successfully able to name each of the letters of his name. Wow! It was the first time I had ever seen him successfully identify each letter. Before that, I had only seen him do two or three.

It reminded me of one day several years ago when Landon was in an early childhood special education preschool at Brookside and I saw him jump on a trampoline for the first time.

As crazy as it sounds, I was sitting there with tears in my eyes as I witnessed him with a big smile on his face as he was happily jumping.

That reaffirmed to me you can never underestimate anyone, and I should never underestimate that little fella.

This year, after a great summer, I am optimistic we will continue to see great progress with Landon at school.

Though he is still having seizures, his seizure activity seems to be under better control than it was at this time last year, and Landon has a renewed sense of focus.

He seems eager to learn, and I am hopeful that in itself will go a long way.

There are always changes as a new year starts, so I hope he is able to adjust to those changes quickly. He is in the new special education classroom at Halverson. Though he is in a new setting, he has some new faces and some old faces.

To all the other Albert Lea parents out there: Good luck this week as we embark on another year.

“A child without education is like a bird without wings.” — Tibetan proverb

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.