Julie Lyles Carr: Huh?

Thursday, March 29, 2012


There is a story out of Texas today that has me scratching my head.

And I'm curious as to what you think.

Outside of Houston, there is a little girl named LaKay who has triumphantly learned to use her walker to walk. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy early in life and has spent her childhood working hard to move from using a wheelchair to a walker.

And she did it.

But now the school district where she attends school in New Caney has told LaKay's mother that LaKay must now use a wheelchair again since she fell in the parking lot while using the walker. LaKay was with her mother at the time she tripped.

And I'm left, reading this story, to just say, "Huh?".

My 7 of 8 didn't walk until she was well closing in on her third birthday because of her neonatal stroke and resulting CP. We worked, worked, worked to get her on her feet, getting her pushing a walker, getting her taking hesitant steps. She fell. She got up. She tried again.

She worked. She worked hard.

And never once did it occur to any of us, from family to friends to therapists, to have her stop trying just because of a few spills and tears. Progress sometimes means you have skinned knees. Allegorically. And literally.

LaKay's mother is standing up to the school district that is demanding her child be strapped back into a wheelchair. She has gone to the media and is questioning how this could possibly be best for her child. The school is contending that it's not safe for LaKay to use the walker.

Um, okay. Because wheelchairs never tip over? And what is this saying in general to children working hard to meet mobility goals? That you can work incredibly hard, make incredible strides and then have a well-meaning but un-informed bureaucrat strip you of your right to make choices because of paranoia over the non-existent possibility of litigation?

And in the end, that's my line. This is HER child. Not the school district's. Not the state's. This child was adopted by this mother, a woman who has poured time and resources and heart into LaKay, getting her to therapy, working on exercises at home, encouraging, coaching, pushing, loving. While I'm assuming the school administration is well-meaning, they are not the ones who will ultimately answer to this child. The administrator of the broad canvas of possibility on which LaKay's life is written is her parent.

In the end, it's LaKay's mother who will answer to her daughter. LaKay will be equipped to soar and try harder and go further because of the influence of her mother. Or, if the school has its way, she'll learn to be tentative, hesitant, and more concerned about fear than progress.

I'm pulling for LaKay and her mom.

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