Monday, September 27, 2010

My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities

And the Skies Opened up and the Sun Shone Down and There Was a Heavenly Chorus Singing Hallelujah!

That's how it felt when our younger son told me "I miss school. I have so much fun there" on the first day of his four days home sick last week. Like a miracle. Like words we'd waited for. Like hope.

The kid is complicated, and those moments of positivity are like sparkling diamonds, rays of light, discovered treasure, the similes could go on and on. I've had to share this story a lot, the "I miss school" story, because there are a lot of other stories. Ones that begin "my baby would ride the short bus if I could be sure he wouldn't take out the driver in a fit of pique" or describe how I leaned in and put my arm around our son's new autism classroom teacher and told him, "We're going to get to know each other really well this year."

I'm thinking about this because I just got back from an hour-long meeting with the school psychologist. It's Special Ed eligibility time, and this involves filling out many checklists about behavior and habits, and comparing them to the three year-old eligibility he was originally given. How has he changed? Do you still see this? Or that? Or the other?

It means pulling together diagnoses and observations and profiles and testing and trying to figure out how to make a rhombus fit into a circular system. The school psychologist used the term "complicated" several times about our son. Tell me about it.

But for the first time recently I thought that it could be all right. That he could end up happy and connected and with a life he enjoys, whether that is a streamlined life or an overwhelmingly complex one like we all seem to have these days. He learned to ride a bike this summer! He learned to swim! He thinks of himself as an active kid! He can read just about anything! He wants to do the right thing. He accepts that he is loved, most of the time.

He's even trying new foods, and that's something for a seven year-old.

But the psychologist did bring up some scary things, too. Middle school for instance. She shuddered at the thought. And the kinds of specialized class rooms available after fifth grade--not much for someone with high intellect but a need for social support. And heaven help he actually sock someone and get sent to a behavioral classroom, not suited for kids with autism.

Deep breath.

So, back to that earlier thought. The one that he's going to be okay. That his brains, his smarts, his good heart, will be able to get him to a good place, a happy place, and that we'll get to see that happen. Him grow up, move on, have a life. Love. I believe he can make it happen. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of course he can! He is part of an extremely loving family; two wonderful moms, and two older siblings. And don't forget pets; their role in your son succeeding in the mainstream of day-to-day is also importlant. There is an overabundance of friends who want nothing more for you Mom, than to find contentment in raising your child. "One day at a time", is quite cliche, but that's the timetable for raising such an interesting young man. And don't allow any one to lead you to believe that you don't know what's best for him.