We’ve met many wonderful therapists, educators and medical staff since Grenouille was born, and the people who stand out, the ones we will always remember and be grateful to, are those who do their jobs – and then a wee bittie more. Who take the time to notice that something isn’t quite right, and take still more time to think of a way to help fix the problem. Those little sparkles of flair, kindness, thoughtfulness, sheer brilliance, turn a typically difficult day into a day to celebrate.
I’d like to invite dudes with additional needs, or their parents, to share with #JusticeforLB the brilliant little things that people have done to help them. If #JusticeforLB can collect at least 107 Drops of Brilliance, then perhaps they will be enough, pooled together, to give everyone a chance to reflect on what good practice really looks like. You can post your Drops of Brilliance here or on the Justice for LB page.
So here are three drops for starters:
Drop 1: Improvising
Amongst a myriad of medical conditions, Grenouille has a growth problem which results in a tiny frame and weak muscles. To be able to concentrate and learn, Grenouille needs to sit stably, which means having thighs parallel to the ground and feet flat on the floor. But when we went to school for the first pre-Reception Induction Day, we found that even the minuscule Foundation Stage chairs left Grenouille with legs swinging, and trunk and head wobbling. The classroom staff ransacked the school furniture store for footstools, but none was right – this one was too high, pushing G’s knees up to armpit height; that one was too light and kept skidding skittishly out from under G’s feet; the third was a typist’s swivelling footrest, which was so unstable that it nearly upended G into a toy-bin.
Just then the caretaker came rampaging in, wanting to know who was raiding his furniture store. He swept all the unsuitable footstools away and returned, grumbling, with a selection of telephone directories in various thicknesses, which he arranged and rearranged under Grenouille’s feet until they were just the right height.
Drop 2: Customising
When we went back for the second Induction Day, the following week, I expected to see the pile of directories again, but no – Grenouille now had a custom-built foot platform. After we had left on the first day, the caretaker had measured the stack of phone books and, using stout 1.5cm plywood, had made large, shallow, open-bottomed box to the same height, neatly covering the plywood top in an offcut of the classroom carpet. It was perfect – too heavy to slide about, the carpet muffling any noise from G’s feet and providing a non-slip surface.
Drop 3: Abandoning What No Longer Works.
Of course, eventually, Grenouille did grow, and needed a lower platform. It wasn’t a problem. Without being prompted, the caretaker would turn up with his assorted phone-books at the end of every half-term to do a spot of measuring, and if the platform proved too high, he just sawed a centimetre or two off the bottom over the holidays. Myself, I’d have been reluctant to destroy by half-inches something that I’d made with such care, but the caretaker – by now G’s friend Richard – positively relished the measurable progress that the gradual dismantling of the box represented. At last, all that was left was the top of the plinth, which Richard ceremonially binned to cheers and applause from the entire class once Grenouille had, finally, outgrown it.
Thanks to K. Cusick, of Daffodil’s Photo Blog, for permission to use the image at the top of this post. I wanted some brilliant raindrops, and I wanted them on a shamrock, partly because we have been so lucky with people willing to drop brilliance into G’s life, partly because of the heart-shaped leaves, but mostly as a reminder of LB‘s love of Ireland.
This picture might have been taken to order, and when I contacted Daffodil about using it, she was happy to give permission, especially since, she tells me, her profession is – special needs teacher. How serendipitous is that?