by Cheryl Swope, M.Ed.with Simply Classical Curriculum
Have you ever listed all of the medical, educational, and other diagnoses your child has been given or the diagnoses you suspect? Lined up in a row, the terms appear as heavy as artillery ready to overtake your child and you. As their parent, sometimes you may feel as if you stand alone in your child’s defense.
Your child’s diagnoses, given or suspected, may sometimes ring in your ears or haunt you day and night. Surrounding you with a clinical grimness, words such as disorder, impairment, syndrome, and disability may threaten to rob you of the God-given love, respect, and persevering care for your child. When you homeschool a child whose medical conditions, daily care, or puzzling diagnoses seem overwhelming, formidable pressure can seem to push from all sides. What are you to do?
Cast care aside, lean on your guide;
His boundless mercy will provide.
Trust, and enduring faith shall prove
Christ is your life and Christ your love.
In my homeschool, our boy/girl twins’ list of medical conditions and diagnostic terms fill more than a single spaced page. The pages of terms continue to grow, as if more troops march forth to assail my children and myself. My role as my defender, advocate, and counter-assailant can only grow to meet them if the Lord equips me with His love, His mercy, His wisdom, and His armor for each day.
Fight the good fight with all your might;
Christ is your strength, and Christ your right.
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Your joy and crown eternally.
With the help of God, in our homeschool when conditions and diagnoses began mounting in my children’s early years, we found ourselves becoming resourceful. When doctor appointments, hospital stays, and therapy visits filled our days, “portable education,” became clever tools for academic progress. This also modeled making the most of the time. I describe in greater detail within the pages of Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child and sometimes marvel that we listened to poetry, cradle songs, and silly songs set to music when traveling to and from appointments. As caregivers, you do such things too. We played memory games or I Spy to pass the time in waiting rooms and kept the children’s minds relaxed and light-hearted. We found parks or made a trip to the zoo for taking long, relaxing walks after evaluations. When home for extended periods due to illness or recovery, we created artistic history notebooks that became keepsakes still on our shelves.
To this day, my son finds discussions with the doctors “fascinating” as we often tied medical terminology to etymology (oto-scope = Greek ear/look). Recently my daughter occupied herself in an exam room by calculating the total number of floor tile squares, as we once did while learning multiplication and area years ago. She finds art or photography on the walls and asks me the questions I asked long ago, “Which is your favorite? Why?” and then shares hers. Not long ago in a gastroenterologist’s office she shuddered with dismay at the many posters of intestines. “They really need some beautiful artwork in here!”
When mood disorders and mental illness were added to the daunting legion, I did not know what we would do. I recall crying out to a Christian friend. “I feel as if I’m barely holding on by a thread.” She reassured me with words I still remember, “Do not worry about your ability to hold on. The Lord is holding on to YOU!”
Faint not nor fear, His arms are near;
He changes not who holds you dear;
Only believe, and you will see
That Christ is all eternally.
Today as medical conditions continue to assail my children, “faint not” remains sufficient because He remains sufficient. The Lord strengthens us, upholds us, and fights for us. Sometimes medical conditions become too powerful or urgent to allow the teaching of etymology, math, or art; but we can teach our children this: Jesus is with us.
If you are in the throes of this battle, hold on. Hold on to your children. Hold on to your family. Hold on to your friends. Most of all, hold on to the One who holds on to you. “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13). Yes, He will.
*Hymn stanzas from “Fight the Good Fight,” written by John S. B. Monsell, 1811-1875.
Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., is the author of Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child (Memoria Press, 2nd edition, 2019). With Memoria Press, Cheryl has created award-winning homeschooling resources for all ages of children with autism, adhd, dyslexia, Down syndrome, medical conditions, and other learning challenges, SimplyClassical.com.
Cheryl has a master’s degree in special education. She and her husband of 31 years homeschooled adopted boy/girl twins with autism, mental illness, and learning disabilities. They homeschooled through high school graduation. The family lives in a quiet lake community in southeast Missouri.