my sister Chase is two years younger than me at 27. i’m spending the week with her so that my parents can spend some time together. they do this trip every year around their anniversary. Chase lives at home with my parents still because she was born with mental disabilities. from my understanding, there were complications during her birth. there may have been people to blame for it, but we don’t really talk about that much. she is who she is. God made her that way for a reason.
from the beginning, we knew something was wrong but we didn’t know what. at first, my parents thought she might be deaf. we taught her sign language (which she still uses on a rare occasion but doesn’t even realize it) and had her tested by lots of doctors. she didn’t speak until she was about two or three. even now her vocabulary is kind of limited. in school, she got to about a 2nd to 4th grade level. her handwriting looks like a kid in 1st grade. she had ear infections ALL the time when she was a kid and had to have procedures to help her.
speaking of school, we ran into a lot of hurdles on that front. the first school she attended (and me too) was an elementary school in a small town. she was sent to a small self-contained special ed room in a different building from her peers. my parents fought and won for her to have more time in the regular classroom. she thrived with other kids. but as time went on, the school district fought my parents more and more. they did some really terrible things to my parents and me. we had to leave our church because the school’s administrators and school board members went there. we eventually moved out of town when my dad got another job in his hometown, a larger city farther south.
chase had the most amazing teachers in this city. elementary school was a pretty great experience for her. she repeated two grades through school and eventually graduated when she was twenty-two. by high school, she had capped out in her skills and education. they focused more on life skills. she’ll most likely always live with my parents. we (meaning my parents and me) haven’t discussed what will happen when they can no longer do so.
chase was never treated differently from my youngest sister and me. we all had responsibilities and chores. chase’s were just a little more simple. she came everywhere with us. she learned to swim as a toddler, just like we all did. she’s still a total fish. she was never excluded from anything. because of this, she is really well adjusted. there are problems, of course. she was put on a strict birth control when she was younger because having a “monthly visit” was too traumatic. she throws fits…a lot. she can act spoiled because she’s basically an only child now. she’s really attached to my parents and has anxiety when she is not with them. she has some problems with her fine motor skills. she needs a little help bathing and getting ready.
but we are so lucky to have her. she could be in a wheelchair, have to use a feeding tube, or be constantly ill. she’s healthy for the most part. she’s one of the reasons i became a teacher. because of my experience (especially in that small school), i’m an advocate for special education students.
some things i love about Chase:
- she will always be a kid and see the world through a kid’s eyes
- she laughs at my corny jokes
- she likes all kinds of foods and almost always compliments me when i cook
- she has obsessions (#1 is always Wizard of Oz, but Hello Kitty is a close 2nd right now)
- we can go see kid movies together
- she drives a shopping cart like a bat out of hell
- she loves shopping, especially at Target
- she’s never met a baby or pet that she didn’t want to talk to
- she’s up for anything
- she is fun to shop for (hello, Toys R US!)
- her laugh is contagious
- she has the largest novelty sock collection i’ve ever seen.