Young boy Justin in wheelchair, with mom and younger brother, lake
Accessibility (#A11y)

Thank you, mom

This is a Q&A with my mom, Kris Schulze, in honor of Mother’s Day and Teacher Appreciation Week. As some of you might know, one of my teachers was my mom who homeschooled me half days from 3rd to 6th grade. I know there are a lot of parents who are helping their kids learn at home right now. Hope it’s going well!

When would you work on lesson plans?

Mom: I’d work on lesson plans and pull together curriculum while you were at school in the morning and then after you were in bed. You were going to school in the mornings for language arts, phy ed, OT, PT, Speech therapy, art and music. You’d come home after lunch and recess. You loved playing with your classmates at recess!

What did you teach me? Why?

Mom: I taught you math, social studies and science at home. At the beginning of 3rd grade, you were struggling at school. You were so worn out after a day at school. Your dad and I thought that if you went to school half days, then came home to rest, I could teach you the other subjects at home – kind of the best of both worlds.

How did you make sure that everything was accessible?

Mom: Accessibility was definitely a work in progress. The computer and online curriculum was key. I’d scour sites trying to find what would work best for you. We also did a lot of figuring out assistive technology so you could independently use a computer – this is when we figured out the adaptive keyboard and joystick mouse, large monitors, and Bookshare.

You were a smart kid and I needed to figure out ways for you to show what you knew. I’d use a variety of learning methods and created a lot of content so that it would be more accessible for you to start building the skills to be a more independent learner. I found a lot of great online resources like Usborne, BBC, CBC, PBS, and more. We also had a lot of field trips to history, science, and art museums which was super fun.

As a mom with someone with a disability, how do you deal with it?

Mom: When you were about 2 or 3 years old, we were at another therapy evaluation. The therapist asked you to remove the rings from the stacking ring toy and showed how to take them off one at a time. When it was your turn, you proceeded to tip the ring toy on its side and batted the rings off. Actually, a much more brilliant and efficient way to remove the rings.

As a first-time mom and facing a lot of unknowns, all of these evals and the endless round of specialists and therapist appointments tended to be a bit disheartening and emotionally draining. Except when things like this would happen. You and that ring toy was one of those moments, where it struck me, that I needed to rethink and reframe goals to focus on the possibilities. It wasn’t about clearly speaking. It was about communicating your thoughts and ideas – whether through a smile, selecting one of my hands to tell me yes or no, and eventually through typing on a computer or communication devices – whatever worked. It was also realizing that the dreams I have for you and your brother are universal – I want you to be happy, resilient, loved, show kindness and compassion to others, and do what you can to make the world a better place.

Back to your question, I’d reframe it from one of being a mom of someone who has a disability to one of simply being a mom. Sometimes it’s hard, confusing and heartbreaking. Other times filled with joy, amazement, and wonder. And all the time filled with love and the feeling that I’d do anything in the world for you.  I love you so much and am constantly blown away by the light you bring to this world.

Back to Justin

Thank you, Mom, and Happy Mom’s Day! Thank you to the teachers and we all appreciate everything that you do.


3 thoughts on “Thank you, mom”

  1. What a nice story of love and appreciation for each other on this Mother’s Day weekend! Justin, your mother was amazingly adept at knowing what you needed, and finding out how to help you learn the best. It’s not surprising that you are already doing so much to make people aware of accessibility issues. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for interviewing your Mom! In following your blog, I often wondered about your parents. I can tell, just be reading a few of her comments, your Mom is strong, passionate and loving with a ‘get it done attitude’. I should have known that by your tremendous ability to see things in the world so brilliantly.


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