“Worth Every Penny” By Chris Zito

Developmental delay.
That’s as close to a diagnosis as we are able to get for our kid right now.  It’s not autism, they assured us, not Asperger’s Syndrome. They wouldn’t even call it Sensory Integration Dysfunction, which covers a wide spectrum of symptoms. The long and short of it: after more than two months of being told that Vince is not developing at a normal pace in certain areas, he’ll not be involved in any special education at school. At least not at first.

“So, Vince is not like the other kids, how exactly?”

We’re not talking learning disability. This isn’t a behavioral problem. They’re telling us it’s an emotional and social lag of some kind. Who, you may ask, is telling us this? How much is it going to cost for treatment? Nothing more than we already pay. It’s our tax dollars literally at work. And boy, are they working!

Where do they go? We found out.

Last week my wife and I met with a team of educators from our town’s public school district. Vince is five and will be entering kindergarten in the fall. We were there to hear the results of an evaluation of our boy to see if he qualified for special education. There were six people present from the public school district. Also on hand were the director of the preschool Vince attends and his current teacher. What could have been a scary and intimidating meeting for us turned out to be so positive that we can’t wait for the kid to start in the fall.

We were also assured “IT’S NOT A TUMAH!!!”

There was a team leader, the school psychologist (Yeah, I know. We had no idea they one either!), the guidance counselor, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, and an intern who had spent the day observing Vince at his current school. All of these people work at school district and are paid with our tax dollars. We’re homeowners in the town and the property tax is heavy. People warned us about it and balked, but we were also told the schools were excellent here. You know the old saying, “You get what you pay for.”  Do you ever!

Okay, the taxes are high, but not THAT high.

This group of folks were all supremely professional, but more than that, they were compassionate and understanding. They offered their full range of experience and expertise freely and openly. I sat there dumbfounded as the time went by, over ninety minutes, and realized that these people all seemed to have a genuine investment in this one kid. My kid.

There’s a place in my heart for each of them.

It’s important to note in the current climate of questioning public unions that none of them were wearing designer clothes, none of them seemed put out by having to meet with us, and none of them acted like they knew how to better care for Vince than we did. These people impressed me not because of how well they did their work, but because it didn’t seem to be work to them. They spoke with authority and from the heart at the same time. Not even an Oscar-winning actor can fake that.

Of course our experience is only our own. The evidence is anecdotal, but I can tell you this. I walked out of there convinced that none of those people are overpaid, salary or benefits. I walked out of there feeling like I got a lot of bang for my buck.

From time to time I’ll write about Vince’s progress or anything new we learn about his development. But mostly I’ll keep writing about how he delights us and fills our home up with joy in a way no one else could.

Thanks for reading. Tell you pals.
And maybe thank a teacher.
Chris Zito


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