This is my first ever blog!! Why did I decide to do this? This letter is why: Dear Parent: About THAT kid…
If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s incredible. It made me cry.
My son is THAT kid.
My little boy didn’t talk until he was four. By some miracle he went from less than twenty words in June to experiencing an absolute explosion of vocabulary and suddenly being able to speak in September when he began school.
My little boy watched his father assault me when I was pregnant with his twin sisters. He’d spoken normally until then. He was one and a half. His father has since walked out of his life and has had no contact with them for over a year and a half.
My little boy went through speech therapy until I was forced into having him assessed at the Child Development Center by a pediatrician and her team on his third birthday. I went from being told there was absolutely nothing wrong with him, to being told by the same person that he was “probably autistic, but we don’t really know.”
My little boy was given absolutely no speech therapy during this time. He was given absolutely no speech therapy for over a year. The CDC speech therapist even decided to tell me that it wasn’t her job to give my child speech therapy, it was mine, after I complained about it.
I had to fire off complaints left, right, and center to get him back under the speech therapy umbrella with less than four months until he was due to start school.
My little boy had the MOST INCREDIBLE pre-school leader who supported him and was the only person to stand by my side and fight for him. She was adamant that the recommendations were inappropriate as his speech was his only issue. This lady had spent her entire career as a special needs teacher.
I had to fight the pediatrician and her team when they went from telling me they’d support my son’s transition into mainstream school to only six weeks later (and no contact with me, him or pre-school during that time), telling me that they wanted him to enroll in a special needs school. I refused point blank. I wasn’t prepared to accept a dodgy diagnosis – his speech was the absolute only “symptom” of autism that he had. I told them if he couldn’t cope at mainstream school then fine, but I was not going to put him in a special needs school if he didn’t absolutely need to be – I have nothing against special schools or children attending them, however as wonderful as they are: they are not wonderful for children who do not need to be there.
My little boy started school. I was terrified on the night of the first parent/teacher meeting. She was surprised how well he’d settled. A couple of months later, I was called in where he was formally released from having any involvement from the CDC.
His issues were (unsurprisingly) communication. He was too physical with other children and there were some complaints. My little boy had his first ever birthday party. Eleven children didn’t show up. He knew from the empty table places that there were lots of kids missing. It broke my heart for him.
In a class of 24, he had two friends. He was only invited to less than five parties that year. One of those two friends moved away. The other made a new friend.
The next year of school, again – he’s too physical and there have been complaints. He struggles with literacy and reading so receives extra help. Again, he’s hardly invited to any parties: the only ones he was invited to are the ones where the kid invited the entire class. For his birthday, I desperately tried to dissuade him from a party but his heart was set. I resorted to partnering up with another parent and having a joint party for both our sons. I figured if kids didn’t want to come for my son, they’d come for hers and my son would never know.
He didn’t seem to get any of his friends in his year two class, so I wrote an angry letter to his teacher. I got called in: she was very offended and upset. Turned out my son had been lying to me. The friends he told me he had, hadn’t played with him in months and actually, he has no friends. No one plays with him, he spends his play-times wondering around alone. I sat in her classroom, apologising and in floods of tears.
Fast forward to year two, this year. Still literacy issues and he continues to get special help but now from two different sources. He still has no friends, still no one plays with him. He thankfully develops such a bond with his teacher, that he still loves school regardless of this. I’ve stopped asking him if he’s played with anyone (on the advice of the teacher). He doesn’t like partnering up with anyone in the class and asks to sit alone. He’ll partner with the teacher. I wanted to cry when she told me that. My six year old son has given up and resorted to isolating himself.
I signed him up for rugby in the hope it would assist him socially. This week at rugby, he was allocated to a team. One of the children was visibly disappointed he had my son in his. He commented to another kid and then glanced at me, clearly worried I’d overheard. I was glad that I hadn’t.
To other parents, my little boy is an annoyance: he makes noises in class. He pushes and hits their children. To other children, he’s weird and/or a loner, and probably stupid as they see him receiving extra/different help. They don’t want to play with him.
I wish they could understand. I wish they could see how loving, sweet and caring he is and just how incredible he is. But they don’t, because he’s just THAT kid.