Joey and the Fat Men from Space

Joey and I had a pretty quiet day today. Grant started his contract this morning, so we didn’t see him at all. He’ll probably come by for dinner this evening after he finishes setting up his office and meeting with people.

In the meantime, Joey and I turned over the rooms, did the laundry, and then spent part of the morning reading a fantastic children’s sci-fi book called Fat Men from Space, by Daniel Manus Pinkwater.

I am so proud of Joey. The book is written at about a fifth- or sixth-grade reading level. Joey can’t figure out all of the words, but he gets about two-thirds of them right on the first try, which I think is amazing, considering the fact that he was reading at maybe a first-grade level when I started working with him less than three months ago. Dr. Scherer came by the other day, and he said Joey is reading at something like a third- or maybe early fourth-grade level.

That both blows my mind and ticks me off. It hasn’t taken a huge amount of time or effort to bring this man up two and a half grade levels in as many months. Joey isn’t stupid. He’s hard to understand sometimes, but he is obviously capable of learning. Where would he be now if his teachers hadn’t written him off when he was young? How many years of his life did they waste by refusing to give him a few minutes of extra attention here and there to help him learn? Why did it take us so long to figure out that “developmentally disabled” does not mean “totally incompetent”?

Grant says I’m looking at it all wrong and that I should quit worrying about a past over which I have no influence and be grateful that the world has changed and that God saw fit to bring Joey and me together and provide us with the resources we needed to backfill the gaps in his education. I guess he’s right, but it still makes me mad. How many Joeys have we wasted over the years?

— Sierra


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