The words I dread to hear were to spoken to me by P’s principal. “You know P is not the only kid in his class. Mrs. S has to work with other kids too.” I was trying to detect if this was obviously stated out of frustration, end of the year fatigue, or something else. With the time I have spent at school and the 700+ kids in the school, I am well aware P is not the only kid. Physically and literally I know he’s not the only kid wandering the halls at his middle school.
Here is why I dread when someone thinks they are telling me something new by saying, “Your kid is not the only one.” It is obvious 99.999% of the time there are other kids around. Secondly, you are preaching to the choir when you tell his mother he’s not the only child. You think a special needs parent doesn’t fully understand the endless possibilities that could happen when their child goes to school? Finally, it boils down to trying nicely to say that your kid is taking up the time, attention, and energy of the teachers, coaches, or leaders. etc. And, yes with the ups and downs of autism, ADHD, and anxiety diagnoses I am attuned to the fact my child needs extra guidance, extra time, and extra patience.
I am no fool. I know my kids will struggle. I know they will make mistakes while at school. I know they will not always choose to make the best choices. Because of that, I am aware that there will be consequences for their actions. I expect them to serve out their consequences. I will never be the parent complaining about how unfair it is for them to have detention, Saturday school, community service, etc. On the other side; however, I expect the consequences will be fair and just. I expect that my children will be given the opportunity to correct their actions. I hope and pray that my children will never be isolated alone as a consequence.
That is what I fear happened to my child when I found him alone in the principal’s office. Isolated and alone. The principal nonchalantly told me my child was left alone for two hours. Did anyone talk to him? Did anyone help him process his feelings? Mood, sleep, and anxiety all play huge factors in how each and every day will play out. Plus the insistence on the sameness and repetitive behaviors made it nearly impossible for P to complete his work. All because he was stuck in the same pattern of thought. It should not have come to losing a whole day of being a part of the classroom environment. But that’s what happened, seven hours secluded in the principal’s office.
Despite the struggles of multiple diagnoses plus loss of sleep along with affected moods, my child will still be around fighting to make sense of the world going on around him. He will reach out to be a part of it or be involved he will make his connections. Through the laughter, jokes, and some tears, I know he will persevere on his terms and in his own way. Maybe not the conventional path, but without doubt I know he will achieve. The next time I hear, “Your child is not the only child here” I will respond. “Yes, I am aware of that. But he is one of them.”
All my best to you,