I lost count of how many parent conferences I attended in the five years my son was enrolled in public school. By the end of each year I was on a first name basis with his teachers and often had their personal phone numbers stored in my cell.
As the beginning of each new year rolled around, I would encourage him and assure him this year would be the best year yet! This year was going to be different. It would only take a few short weeks to remind me that the year would be like all the others.
More phone calls.
More people that don’t get my kid.
Every morning we’d pull up to the drop-off, and he’d look out the window at the building that awaited him. I never knew what was going through his mind.
He would open the door, twist on his back pack, and begin to walk away without shutting the door or grabbing his lunch, just like he did everyday.
I’d call him back to the present, and he’d realize. It’s just another day that will be like yesterday.
He’d grab his lunch. I love you, mom. Shut his door. Then I’d watch him walk off with his shoulders slumped and head down. Defeated already in a world that doesn’t understand him.
I would watch him walk past the safety guards, a bright orange reminder that my son was different.
I hated those damn safety guards. I was a safety guard when I was in 5th grade. I wore my belt with pride, and enjoyed that special treatment that came with the position. I always thought my son would be the same kind of student that I was, but he wasn’t.
I’d watch other kids get out of their cars and migrate towards friends. Like magnets.
He didn’t do that though.
No one was attracted to him.
He was different, and I was struggling to understand him just like everybody else.
One of the hardest things about parenting a child with Asperger’s is that your child looks like all the other kids. He just doesn’t’ act like them. Most of the time my son was misunderstood as being a bad kid, disruptive, or disrespectful. No one ever knew what to do with him. So they’d call me.
Having a child with a special need that doesn’t look like they have a special need can be tricky. It never helped that his grades were always straight A’s and all of his test scores were off the charts. How can this child have a special need?
People are so quick to judge you as a parent. She’s in denial. Her kid is just a menace.
Have you considered ADHD medication?
He often interrupts during lessons.
He wouldn’t even play on the playground!
He doesn’t do well in group activities.
He’s very emotional today and getting very upset about the smallest of things. Could you speak to him?
Another day, another conference.
I’ve been struggling with the “if I only knew then what I know now” syndrome lately.
Awareness is key!