Saturday, September 17, 2011

Part 2

Well, today was Simon's next music class. I spent most of this week working up a good mad, starting on Monday. Yes, Simon had a meltdown. But it was a mild one. And there was a cause. He had gotten hurt. He was in pain. Any 4.5 year old reacts when they feel pain. Some have learned to express themselves appropriately, others are still working on that skill. Simon is definitely in that latter group. With a lot of effort, we have been able to teach him how to tell us when he's hungry, thirsty, feeling discomfort.....but pain and illness are difficult for him. When we pair this with all the other things that were happening in his music class last week, who could blame him, autism or not, for coming apart?

Apparently, parents in his music class can blame him. Well, at least 2 parents -- as far as I know everyone else was all right with his behavior in class last week. But I spent all week thinking about what I was going to do when I walked into that room this afternoon. How I was going to "show them" how wonderful my very talented and gifted child really is (and I KNOW he is musically gifted -- that's not just "Mom" talking). I knew I had to explain Simon without being too demeaning. I knew I had to recognize that many people in this world are completely ignorant when it comes to dealing with disabilities. Heck, I was just 2.5 years ago before I was finding myself directly coping with this day in and day out. But I was still furious. I WANTED those parents to pay for what they put me through this week. I WANTED to make them feel small and petty. I WANTED them to squirm in their seats when I walked proudly into the class with my beautiful son!

All week I thought about what I was going to say. This morning, I took my mental script and did my checkdown making sure that all the high points were included. I went to the Facebook page that I am the administrator for (We Care About Someone With Autism) and made my question of the day reflect what I was about to face, making sure there were no areas that I had forgotten about. I knew I was only going to have 2-3 minutes at most to make this impression and I wanted to be the best possible advocate for my son.

So, shortly before 3:00, I walk into Simon's music classroom proud and ready to go. I know what I'm going to say. I go to the back of the room to set us up at a piano back there and Simon selects his preferred seat. We pull out the books and I continue to practice the homework assignments, making sure others can see how gifted he really is. We are singing the songs. He is clapping the rhythms. He's laughing his contagious laugh because he is having FUN. And he is proving that THIS is where he belongs. Then the teacher comes in. I stand up and ask her if I can have the floor for a moment, and she allows me to have my say.

Then I revert from a confident Mom defending her child, to a woman begging others for her son's acceptance.

All the facts and stories I had prepared to say.....gone. All I could do was introduce us, and say Simon has autism. Instead of advocating for him, I spend my time defending him. A part of me spent those 2 minutes I was talking just scolding me -- YOU KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO SAY!!! But I didn't know who had called to complain. I didn't know if that parent was in the room. I didn't want to make things worse for him or for myself. I just chickened out.

Class went on and Simon did well. He did everything that was asked of him and excelled. He listened to the teacher and proved once again his aptitude for music. He was one of the better behaved children in the class. I spoke to his teacher at the end of class and she pointed out that she also recognized the difference between this week and last week. He made me a VERY proud Momma and proved to me that he deserves better than I gave him today.



  1. Not a coward! I think you did what we all do as mothers - love my child because I do. Trust me - s/he is worth it! Your appeal may have goneto those two parents' hearts instead of their egos/heads. And maybethis will be the impetus for them to learn more about autism and its myriad manifestations.
    ~ Ghazala Long

  2. I agree with Ghazala Long. When Anne read me this post yesterday, my first thought was "the better part of valor." Looking at it objectively, if you were reading this post & someone else had written it, I'm betting you would say "you did what was best for your son."

    Reading the riot act may have been a defining moment for you, but I have to to imagine that it would have distracted Simon from his experience in class and might have scared him.

    On a more personal level, we all want to be more, (or less) confrontational, agressive, etc... but we change ourselves little by little, and parents, especially, as you know, often have to put these things on a back burner.

    How do you know it wasn't paretnal instinct,and not "cowardice" which slowed your roll?

    Jason Klein