Acronyms of a Different Nature by Dana M. Spincola

     Each day I am more amazed at the number of acronyms that are commonplace among literature, speech and through social media—LOL! As a former school administrator, I was drenched in educational acronyms such as KWL, CCSS, APPR, PARCC and SLO. (Secretly, I am somewhat relieved for those to have been placed on the back burner of my brain as I venture into more practical ones today now that my ML is over and I am officially a SAHM). Such new found acronyms for me include, but are certainly not limited to: BM, LO, BF, EBM, AP, CIO…many of which I needed to look up upon first reading numerous blogs on extenuating topics, at various hours of the day, and night. However, in my previous work life, meeting with families of students with special needs, I was immersed in the litany of special education letters and numbers such as: DSM-IV; IEP: 504; ADD (with or without the H); ODD; and PDD-NOS. It is these I think if each day. Not the letters, the children. A year ago, I may have written students, today I write children because that is one thing being a mom has made me more aware of. There is a child within each student and a host of emotions wrapped within him or her.

     While PG, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be a nervous and somewhat neurotic parent about most things upon immediately bringing our son home from the hospital, especially as a FTM. Now, as we learn at least ten new things from and about him each day, I am more than a bit surprised just how nervous I am about his future, now that the L&D worries are no more. I look at him sometimes and can’t help but wonder how his brain in working, if I have already scarred it in some unassuming way, and what needs he may have in the future. People tell me I know too much…worry too much because of the children I have met and the families I have worked with, some of whom weren’t so willing to hear or accept the educational or medical diagnostic letters that would soon follow their child’s name, and thus for many families…their children. When discussing an educational, psychological or even psychiatric evaluation with a family, it was always delicate conversation. Even though I knew in my mind, “This is someone’s DD, DS, or DC;” I was still only an administrator, not a parent. Oh, it hurt when one of the first questions out of an unhappy parent’s mouth was, “Do you have any children of your own?” and I would have to humbly shake my head no. Because the truth, as I live it now is, that no matter how empathetic I could be, I could never be as compassionate as a child’s mother.

     Now I think about being on the other side of the educational table…literally. What would I say if an administrator was sympathetically looking at me and suggesting that my LO needed support based on staff discussion at an IST/CST meeting. Would I be prepared to hear and accept that he needs an OT, PT, or S&L screening? I would like to affirmatively shake my head with fortitude, but would my heart follow suit? For as trained as I am to understand the meaning behind the acronyms, would I be able to differentiate the letters from who my son is as a person, as a student, as a friend? I pray that my background and my knowledge guide our family, and at least in the school realm, I think it will. But, since we have many years before the bus for Kindergarten arrives, for now, I’ll just stay focused on the baby acronyms, facts and figures that keep my head full of worry. Like, when is he getting is next DTaP and HIB vaccines, or how many mL of acetaminophen based on his lbs. will he need if sick? There’s nothing like a little worry to help the heart grow fonder than it already is. I can only imagine when he comes home from the DMV with his learner’s permit!

     TIA for taking the time to think about the letters we associate ourselves, or our children with, and how not to associate others only on letters. IMHO, its not so much what the letters mean, but what we take them to mean…KWIM?!

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