An Open Letter to the Parents in my Child’s Class

I can’t believe it is time for Kindergarten already. It seems like just yesterday that our babies were born, rocked and held.

It probably feels like forever since you held and rocked your babies.

Or forever since you carried them surfboard style out of a public place.

And forever since they had a toddler tantrum in front of everyone.

They can probably sit in restaurants and enjoy new adventures out in the world with you.

Like family vacations, movies, sports arenas.

Many of you probably spend your time out in the world living your best life.

I’m not sure what you are going to hear about my child but I am sure you will hear something.

I hope they remember to tell you about the good stuff.

Like how she made your child laugh when they were crying.

Or how she colored a portrait just for them.

But they might only remember to tell you that she cried or screamed today.

That she did something out of the ordinary.

That she threw her crayons.

Or that she has a special seat where she gets to take breaks.

You may question why she is in the same class as your child instead of in a special ed classroom.

Why does your typical child have to put up with my child on the autism spectrum who sometimes screams and swipes her work off of her desk?

You may even take this question to the school.

She is there because she is brilliant. That is a fact, not my opinion as a mom.

She is there because she needs peer role models to help her continue to learn and improve her social skills and behavior.

She is also there because she is a person. A person equal to your child and she has the right to be included with her typical peers; you probably have no idea what we have been through so I won’t judge your initial concerns. 

You should know that our worlds are probably very different and that my daughter is beautiful, funny, and kind despite what you might hear or despite what she might say.

While it probably feels like an eternity ago for you, I still have to hold and rock my child when she has a bad day. When she can’t calm down or stop crying.

We still have to carry her surfboard-style, screaming, from public places without warning. While it is not as often as it was when she was younger, it still happens.

She still has what appear to be toddler-type tantrums. But actually, it only looks that way because she has an “invisible disability”—they are actually sensory meltdowns.

While you are watching fireworks with your children, mine is covering her ears and asking to go home.

When your child is swimming in their pool, mine is hiding in the house from lawnmowers and motorcycles. I also have to cover her ears in public bathrooms with hand dryers and sometimes she won’t even go inside.

And your child is probably going to come home and tell you about things like this that happen at school.

While your kids play soccer and little league, my daughter gets several hours of behavior therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and visits doctors.

And we’re trying. After failing at dance, gymnastics and soccer shots, karate finally stuck. So we’re getting closer.  

My child just requires a different approach. An approach that should not isolate her. I think all of our children should be looked at as individuals.  

You may push your child to write better, faster, or more often while I sit with mine, building her up and redirecting her from tearing the paper to shreds when she doesn’t complete the task perfectly the first time.

And she is finally starting to get it.

Her typical peers in this class lead by example showing her patience and modeling behavior. And in return, she teaches them about differences and tolerance.

She is also the funniest kid they will ever meet and her giggle could melt a zillion hearts.

We do everything possible to make her experiences at school positive. At home, we work on social stories, scenarios, and practice appropriate behaviors. We have to correct our child more than typical parents and overcorrect behaviors with constant prompting and it is exhausting.

I also have to remember to give my child medication twice a day, and water her like a plant every few hours so she doesn’t get dehydrated from it.

We spend our nights and weekends in therapy.

I do all of this so that she could be here, in this class with your child and other children. All I ask you for is to be kind. To be patient. To be understanding.

Sincerely,

Exhausted Autism Mom

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