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I Thessalonians 5:14 (Pt. 3)  Thought/Prayer:  Those Kids I Taught.  Topics:  2 at end.

“And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the disorderly, encourage the fainthearted, support the weak, be longsuffering toward all.”  ASV (Read this scripture and more at

The severely and multiply handicapped, 7 teenagers in wheelchairs, were the students I taught one year.  Oh, my, what a year that was – oh my, a great year it was.  Somewhat a year of developing understanding and patience it was – and a year of learning, learning, learning – on my part the most I’m sure. 

The two paraeducators and I worked out schedules, routines, and physical care for our students.  Varied in skills and needs they were:  so, my assistants and I worked out varied approaches to reach personalized goals.  Their Individual Education Plans (IEPs) had many goals on the pages, not because of elaborate schemes to bring them to achieve grand accomplishments – not in the eyes of “regular” society that is – but there were many pages because of smaller goals needing to be conquered:  realizing cause and effect, such as if I push this button, I will receive the reward of a picture I like, to glance at; such as if I nod my head that I recognize an international symbol, I will get a pat on the back; such as if I allow someone to take my hand and gently stretch my arm a bit before the muscles try to contract it back, I will be rewarded with a big smile from my teacher.

There are challenges with maintaining personal hygiene with these students; there are challenges in keeping them safe.  A most handsome young man had a huge heavy head; he could not hold it up by himself, so Edwin rested his chin on the tray of his wheelchair.  Every time a change of underclothing needed to be done, or when transferring him from his chair to a padded table, two people were involved, especially one to make certain his head didn’t fall back. 

The moment I probably remember the most that year was occasioned by Edwin.  To give him a break with breezes and sun, we put him outside on the patio on a padded surface.  He somehow maneuvered himself over to the edge of the pad and off of it.  We neglected to check on him for awhile, and when I went to bring him in, he was crying.  I just wrung out my heart over this; I felt so badly about it; I never want to hurt an innocent such as Edwin.  He could not say a word, but he could cry.  As I say, I never forgot this.  Of course, we brought him in and dried tears and took care of him.  He was an easy forgiver, and it wasn’t long until he was flashing the most big and beautiful of smiles, as he was terrifically handsome of face.

I don’t know what happened to Edwin.  He had been a very fortunate fellow to have been adopted by doting older parents who are now deceased.  The last I knew, he was in some type of day care for the severely handicapped.  Society needs to care for the Edwins in our lives, and for the most part there are many available services for fellows with his problems.  We must never cease to care for them, always have policies and services for them.  Many today are not allowed to be born.  People say that they cannot have quality lives, that they should not have to undergo what it takes to live in society with the problems they have.

Who can say whether Edwin’s life was a quality life in his own eyes?  I can’t.  I think I noticed his tears because, aside from the fact that they were heartbreakingly unexpected, he smiled so much.  I can’t say that he was unhappy.  No one can totally ascertain that for another person.  Lord, help us to make good plans for our Edwins and others like my students; help us to keep them safe and to love them just as they are.  And help us to learn life’s teachings from them to us.

Topics:  Pray for wisdom to care for individuals such as Edwin and for compassion for their situations.
Sidewalk counselors at abortion clinics

Posted by Gail Richardson on 09/21 at 09:40 PM
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