Monday, April 19, 2010

Walking the Plank

This morning, when J took our boy onto the school yard for morning lineup, he noticed the other kindergartners pointing. He heard them talking about the Rooster as they entered campus. "He is not normal," they said. J held Roo's hand and approached the group, who continued to point and talk animatedly about our boy. "He is not a normal human being," a little girl said, "he spits." Another boy in the throng didn't like my husband telling the kids to back down, telling them to not say that any more. "He is not normal," the boy said, turning his back on my husband and my Roo.

Around 1:15, J called me. He told me what happened, how my son began his Monday morning after our first decent weekend in months. He told me my son did not even react, he simply held firmly to J's hand. "Why did you wait so long to tell me this?" I shouted, looking at the clock, torn between listening further and racing to call the principal before the school day ended. "That was 5 hours ago!" And then my resilient husband's voice broke.

I'm the kind of girl who compulsively asks people, "Are you okay?" I have asked J about a dozen times a day for a decade. It's a reflex; he gives the same honest answer every time except for today. Today he said, "No."

The teachers tell us this: It does not begin with the children. It comes from the parents. Parents who worry that No Child Left Behind means All Kids Left Behind, and think my son will keep their kids from a good education. Parents who know little or nothing about autism. Parents who think inclusion is like a tax they don't want to pay, a charity they don't wish to bestow. Parents who think "those kids" like mine should be in "other" places.

I have to end this post now even though I have so much more to say. I have 20 pirate birthday party invitations to fill out, address, and stuff with treasure maps to our house. I have 20 children to kill with kindness. I have almost 40 parents to think about, long and hard, so I can remember my empathy, my compassion. I have toy eye patches and other booty to buy for a six-year-old Matey who is very much a normal human being, a normal human being who has what is becoming an all too normal challenge: intolerance and discrimination because of his autism.

81 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, G, my heart is broken. Broken. Big hugs to your whole family. There is nothing else I can say.

(Darcy here. For some reason I can't log in with my wordpress acct.)

Niksmom said...

I am torn between wanting to cry and wanting to fly to CA and go punch every single one of those kids' PARENTS in the nose.

Since I can't do the latter, apparently, I've defaulted to the former.

Sending love and hugs to you, sweetie. Give your gorgeous boy some extra loving from me & Nik. xoxo

goodfountain said...

I'm so sorry this is happening. Wish I had something to offer to help. just know that it is not fair and Rooster is awesomely normal.

Christine said...

I'm so sorry. Really, that doesn't even convey how I feel. You are doing the right thing though -- carrying on, hoping to make a difference. And you will. Hugs to you, Matey!

Joeymom said...

I'm with Darcy on this one. Absolutely in tears. This is utterly ridiculous. Utterly. Without reserve.

We are sending hugs, and will be working extra hard for awareness here. One person at a time, we change the world. Slow but steady. Slow but steady.

Amanda said...

My heart breaks for you. I hope the party goes well. Only two of my Aspie son's classmates showed up for his birthday party-- when the whole class was invited. Luckily we had non-school friends come, and we held it at a public playground and welcomed any children who wanted to be a part of the cake-and-water-gun festivities. But I know he noticed.
Sometimes I wonder if the world will be divided, eventually, between the generous and loving people and the ones whose parents taught them to walk on other people. If that's the way it will be, I'll take the first group any day, even if it means walking the lines with Rooster and Joey and Mordecai every day.

jess said...

We are with you - walking the schoolyard, holding your hand, holding our heads high.

I'm so so sorry.

sonidoinquieto said...

I am not sure what to say....heartbreaking...I don't know how I would even begin to deal with this. My prayers and hugs are with you and your entire fsmily

DQ said...

Hello
I have come here via a diary of a mom. I have visited before but not commented.
I know it is only words, but for what it is worth, I am so sorry. This is heartbreaking. Thank you for being honest and brave by sharing such a vulnerable time for all of you. Your words filter out and will make a difference, you might be surprised how many hearts you touch, and perhaps even minds you shift, if not change.

Jenn E said...

That is horrid. Where were the teachers?

Sending hugs.

Niksmom said...

Not sure what happened to the comment I posted yesterday morning. :-( Just said it makes me mad and sad. And that I wanted to come punch parents in the nose. Since I'm 3000 miles away, I'll just send you love instead. xoxo

Kim said...

It does begin with the parents, it is so, so frustrating. My heart hurts for you all.

Time to talk to some school administrators about inclusion and what it REALLY means. Time for some sensitivity training for parents and their children alike. It shouldn't be something that we have to do, with all we already do on a daily basis, but they will never change unless we try.

Big hugs to you. It hurts more than they will ever understand.

Anonymous said...

I too am planning a birthday party for my little guy. hoping and praying that his classmates will come. Sometimes they don't come--to parties, to playdates. yet another situation that has become all too 'normal' for us.

Anonymous said...

G, I have also walked this journey. I can remember my heart breaking so many times in Kindergarten. One thing I did was to go into the class while my R was not there and read a book entitled All Cats Have Aspergers by Kathy Hoopmann. It doesn't really matter the diagnosis, reading the book to the kids helped them understand a little better who R is. It also opened the door to the kids feeling okay to ask questions. R is now 5th grade. I have read this book and answered questions to every class she has been in. All the kids know who R is now, why she is "different" and it is no big deal. I still get heartaches, but the thing is, it is my heart that breaks, not hers, because her world is okay. Hang in there, this is a roller coaster ride we are on.

tiredmama said...

Tears are in my eyes. I will stand with you my friend. I haven't heard words like this from other children at my son's school, but you can see it in the looks (and who knows what happens when the Mama is not there to keep watch). Hugs to you. I hope that today goes better.

Anonymous said...

I will start my comment by letting you know that I am a recently retired middle school principal in three schools, for 45 years, on Long Island N.Y.
While I agree that many parents are not at all tolerant and seem to add to the abuse of some children, both "special" and average, as well, children are still malleable when they enter the school and it is the school's responsibility to develop an atmosphere where such abuse is not tolerated or part of the culture of the school. The leadership starts at the top with the principal, and works through the teachers, and all workers in the school.
You must insist on such leadership. After all the fish stinks from the head back, or it doesn't.

KM said...

Hi
I've also come via a diary of a mom. My heart is with you - and is breaking for you. I'm so sorry that your son and your family have to endure this and it is truly shameful that we haven't made more progress towards acceptance. It's difficult, but please know you're not alone and don't give up - we can make a difference.

kim mccafferty said...

I came to this post via "diary of a mom". As a parent of two autistic children, a therapist, and a former educator, I was deeply saddened to read this post. It sounds as if the teachers and principal of those children have some work to do. We had a zero tolerance policy for "cruelty" at the public school in which I taught in VA, and it really worked. You may not change the parents, but try making the school an advocate for change. If you make waves, you might be pleasantly surprised (in all of your free time, of course). It's a different climate in the public schools now, I hope someone will be receptive to you. I generally found that the parents of the kids who did the teasing were mortified when it was brought to their attention. I hope you have the same result.

Excellent writing. Please let us know how it goes!

Kim

Jacquie said...

I hate your post. It's my every nightmare.
My thought tends to head toward the teacher though. I don't know her, but I find it hard to believe that all the parents are sooo tuned in to a different child in the class, that they are discussing it with their children. Maybe in high school, but kindergarten? Most parents are concerned with their own children. How's he doing, can he write like the others, read like the others... like their children, pretty self-centered. That's not bad, it's just their first experience, and their interest is their children.
If the teacher knows there's a problem... where is she? To sit there and blame the parents? Doesn't that take some of the pressure off of her to provide your son with the experience he deserves also?
I'm seriously not into blaming the school system, but... There are so many ways to explain kids are different, and I remember the teacher carrying far more weight then I did with my kids in the early years. How often have you heard "Well my teacher says...." and that is law.
Tell her to start talking!!!!

Anonymous said...

Heartbreaking. That is why I only believe in private schools for autism. Inclusion really is a "delusion" not because our kids can't fit in, but because the ignorance of all the "typical" kids and their parents will never end. We can talk to them and lecture them until we are blue in the face but inclusion does not work in 99% of the cases.

Russ said...

Hi, another visitor from A Diary of a Mom here. This is just heartbreaking. We have yet to encounter this level of teasing with out child on the spectrum but it's the fear of such an event the keeps me up at night. Awareness has such a long way to go, but every story like yours that gets told can only help understanding and tolerance grow. Thank you for sharing.

drama mama said...

This is wrenching. I am so, so sorry.

Your boy is a wonderful, beautiful human being with a beautiful soul.

That's the only "difference" I see between him and the other kids here.

Been there. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say but ignorance is everywhere! My son is an autistic 16 year old & was missed diagnosed for years! Are struggles have been painful just as yours are now! My heart is breaking for your family because I know how hard acceptance can be. You stand strong & find the courage to stand up to anyone & everyone & tell them MY SON HAS AUTISM WHATS WRONG WITH YOURS?

Martha Williams Jordan said...

I am so sorry to hear this. As a mom of an autistic daughter my heart breaks. I have had issues with a student but not a whole class so I can't imagine what that must be like.

Sending lots of love and hugs to you and your family.

Lisa said...

My heart is distressed for you... you are strong I can tell. But I seriously want to smack every single one of those parents who said an acted that way... they obviously don't have "awareness"... and really need some humility in life...

Anonymous said...

i found your blog through autism speaks' facebook page. the thing i keep thinking after reading this (other than how much my husband and i can relate to your journey) is what i repeat to myself and to my son. it's Biblically based, so my apologies if that's not a part of your journey, but it gives me comfort. "every good and perfect gift comes from above." i tell my little boy, who is on the autism spectrum, that he is good and perfect, just the way he is. no matter what comments may come from kids, who can be so mean, or even adults, who can be just as mean.

big hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

Having a son with a mild cae of autism...I am speechless....I am so sorry such a thing happened....the school shoukld become more involved in educating the children and the parents....this should not be happeneing in the 21st century

maltliqra said...

SHAME ON YOU!! You are wrong on so many levels!!
My two older children (ages 13 and 9) are considered academically gifted, and we have for 10 years now advocated for inclusion classrooms and volunteered our time and services to those who would have us. Grouping parents of "typical" children into a heartless class is as unacceptable as them grouping non-typicals into a excluded class. UNIVERSAL ACCEPTANCE from both sides is what is called for- advocate on behalf of your son. Get down on your knees and explain as nicely as you can to the children who taunt him, tell their parents what autism is and how it impacts your child. You may be surprised at the results, don't encourage hate or disrespect by showing them the same treatment. Don't fake being nice for a birthday party when there is obviously so much to say! Oh, and by the way I also have a 4 year old with autism, so I have the rare insight as a parent from both sides.
Good luck to you!
Jennifer

Anonymous said...

I also came via A Diary of a Mom. You are not alone. And it's not just the parents, it's the adults in the school from the top down. There are schools that have an atmosphere of respect for all differences. I hope that you can find one or help to change yours.

Paula said...

Im deeply sadden by this story. I fear this my my son Carson who is 3. I fear that people with not understand (even more parents). I hope and pray that your school will help you with this problem. I am the type of preson who does not back down. I would not tolerate this, but parents need to educate there children that just because SOMEONE is diffirent does not make it okay. That the world is made up of a kinds of important people. That just because they may struggle does not mean they are not entilied to the same things "normal children" are.

with all my love
Paula Smail

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kim Mc that the school needs to do something about this! My son school has talked to the kids so that they understand that D is different and allows them to ask questions if they want to know why he is doing something! I am so sorry about your experience shame on everyone involved and I would be having a long talk with the school!!!

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to u guys..I can't imagine going thru that. Is there anyway you can put him in a school with kids who have Autism? My nephew is in one and its the best thing ever we r in NY so not sure if you have any over there.. I wish u guys all the best i'll keep u in my prayers..

Anonymous said...

Very disturbing and sad. I am so choked up to hear the cruelty these small children can inflict. My heart goes out to you and your son...

Dawndannysmom said...

Oh my heart goes out to you. I wish I could numb the sting from their looks, their comments & their ignorance. Better yet I wish they could see what we see, the sweet eyes we try to teach to fit into our world an how unbelievably hard this is. My son Danny is 8 and has PDD-NOS and as if that wasn't enough he is 95% non verbal. So he yells/screams out a lot when frustrated or even having fun. Up until this year he was never a constant aggressor(just every good once in a while) but now he is "that kid that hits" in his class and the looks are killer. They just do not understand and I'm not sure they fully ever will unless they run in our shoes(when your a parent of child with autism their is NO walking only running, in 10 different directions it seems like and I'd like to see them all keep up). Try to dust off their comments and do the best you can to help your son understand(that this isn't they way people should treat others) and build him up and teach him to be the man you want him to be, understanding & respectful of others(all others). Then I would go talk to the school principal on this(like the other principal poster suggested)matter b/c that is the way it should be handled. The school should do it's part to make this right. I believe this type of behavior can lead to bullying in schools. Making fun of someones disability is a cowards way of dealing with fear and you can quote me on this b/c it's true.

My heart goes out to you hun, I know we do not know each other from a hill of beans but you are a GREAT mom an AMAZING mom and I do not think mom/dads that have children with any form of special needs hears this often enough.*hugs*

Anonymous said...

Wow. How very sad. Sounds like some sensitivity training would be good in that school. That just breaks my heart to hear how cruel kids can be. Good for you for having the strength to move forward as you are..... sending lots of love your way. :)

Anonymous said...

as a mother who has been witness to the same preconceived misconceptions, I completely understand your heartache. My autistic son, who is 8, has never been publicly ridiculed for his disability, but from what his mainstreaming partner told me, special education children are often talked about by other nondisabled students about being creepy or weird.

I can't change someone's mind but I can try to educate. My next goal is to persuade the school into letting talk in the traditional classrooms and answer questions about autism to these same student who don't know how to respond other than to say hurtful comments.

you are so lucky to have the opportunity to have birthday parties. I stopped a couple of years ago after years of sending out birthday invitations and having no one come or even call....and these were other special ed students. Now we go to disneyland once a month and my son takes his mainstreaming partner who is just a gem, his only friend.

best of luck to you,

rochelle

IslandMomof2 said...

Wow, reading this brought tears to my eyes. It shows the cruelty in the world...and it angers me that parents do not teach their children to respect ALL human kind...regardless of race, background, OR disabilities. It is so hard since I am a mom of an amazing autistic boy, and a sister to a kind, gentle 28 year old "woman" who is on the level of a 7 or 8 yr. old. I fought the battles for her for all my life, and the fear is doing the same for my son. But what angers me is the complete lack of COMPASSION in our world...not to mention the COMPLETE IGNORANCE so many children and adult portray in or society. My heart goes out to you and your family, and your precious little boy. As unfortunate as it is, we (as parents of children w/disabilities) must realize that this is only the beginning. Unfortunately it is a challenge raising a child w/disabilities in a world of hate, ignorance and cruelty. We cannot prevent the hate our child will face (which happens with even what ignorant people call "normal" children)...aside from switching schools. What we can do is give extra love to our children and help them realize that unfortunately the world is filled w/cruel people that will try to hurt them only to make themselves feel better...but the reality is, those cruel children are the ones that will have the biggest battle in life because they have no kindness or compassion and usually no self-esteem and come from parents that could care less to teach their children the fundamentals of morals, values and loving one another regardless of differences. I will keep your family in my prayers and just remember to spend the energy on loving your child even extra instead of getting swept up in the anger of the injustices and cruelty that our children must face. God bless you and your family, and your amazing son!!!!

missingastring said...

Wow. This... I'm speechless. I know what you're going through. Praying for you and your family.

Sue said...

I am so sorry. People are cruel big and small, being the kids in the playground or their parents in a store. The looks the whispers the whats wrong with that kid? snickers. Thankfully you come across some loving people who do understand and give you that smile who know and understand the struggles we face daily. Remember we are all in this together and we must stand strong so that our children no longer have to deal with the stupidity and abuse of some of our so called "normal" population.

JackieMacD said...

While my son has had early intervention since 18 mos, we are just now heading down the diagnosis path. Your courage and honesty made me feel less alone today. Thank you for this post.

Anonymous said...

As an educator, an educator of educators, a parent, and a speech therapist, I am appalled and ashamed. As in instructor for college education, I teach that inclusion is a community. If inclusion is done correctly, those children will take a child with Autism under their wings and be his friend, helper, mentor, partner, defender and protector instead of someone who taunts and jeers. As a parent, I teach my child that every person is to be loved, respected, and valued for their uniqueness. As a teacher, I would not blame the parents of those children - I would blame myself and take care of it. As a speech therapist, I would teach the words to use with the other students. I cannot understand how you or your husband feel, but I will say a prayer about it and I will do my best in my little part of the world to teach acceptance and tolerance and KINDNESS.

From Kellie in Arkansas

Sara said...

my heart breaks each and every time i hear a story like this...i'm a home aba therapist and every year at our local community college i host an autism awareness program-the main thing i stress is educating the "typical" children, adolescents and adults in the community to be supportive and not as close minded as they tend to be. unfortunately ignorance is still out there and there is nothing we can do about it but pray.
when i am shadowing in an inclusion setting, I often sit back and think- what is typical or normal behavior? it is a very difficult situation and i hope that you find a medium to guide you and your child into some peace.

xo

Crazymamaof2 said...

I feel for you. My daughter is in special K and she is fine at school, but at daycare sometimes its a huge struggle. She doesn't really understand the things kids say, but she acts out because she starting to see a pattern. Some days are ok, and others . . . the medications, the doctors, the ABA . . . I'm a single parent as well with a 6 year old and a 15 month old that can NEVER be together because the older sibling will hurt the younger one. I try to hold on to the good days and let the bad days go. Sometimes it works . . .

playdoughintheparsonage said...

I am so sorry and my heart breaks for you. It is frustrating when our children are not accepted for the special kids they are. My 9 year old son, Caleb, has Autism and is non-verbal and just this year has been mainstreamed into a regular classroom with an aide.

My husband and I went into the 3rd grade classroom on the first day and talked to the kids about Autism. We educated them on what Autism was (in terms that they could understand) and why Caleb might do things that they didn't understand(like make shreiking noises, flap hands, etc). We also explained that he is sensitive to others touching him (especially on the head) and some of his sensory issues. We not only pointed out Caleb's differences, but also told them that our he enjoyed swimming, pizza and Spongebob just like many of them. We explained that Autism was not something you could catch (some kids expressed fear that it was contagious like the flu). We answered all the questions and told the class that our son was special just as each of them was special.

The teacher has been wonderful to help integrate Caleb into the classroom and it has really helped his social skills and the kids have been pretty accepting of him for the most part. Caleb is in the 3rd grade classroom in the morning and in the special ed classroom in the afternoon for one-on-one help. This has been a difficult year for Caleb because of the social and academic challenges and it has been a fight for us as parents to stay on top of things (we even had weekly meetings for the first 3 months of school with the 3rd grade teacher, special ed teacher, and others on the IEP team to monitor how things were going and make changes as needed)

It was an answer to prayer in our case conference earlier this month that the 3rd grade teacher said whenever one the kids in the 3rd grade class had a birthday and brought cupcakes, etc. in to celebrate they would always say things like "where's Caleb?" "We need to go and get Caleb" - they wanted him to be a part of the celebration.

I would strongly suggest going to the principal and /or the teacher and making sure this is addressed so it does not continue. I think that the school is as much or more at fault than the parents of those children. I am sure that most if not all of the parents of those children would be appalled to hear that their children were acting like that. However, if the principal or teacher does not talk to the parents they will never know and won't be able to help put a stop to the problem.

I will definately keep you in my prayers !

Hip Momma said...

well said. I can relate.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry this happened to him to you to your family. I am sorry that those kids have not yet learned the important lessons of kindness, empathy, compassion and love. You will invite them to the pirate party and you will educate them. A job that is not yours, but one you will do with kindness, empathy, compassion and love. Good luck.

Emily

mom2015 said...

Oh my god. I got this from a friend on Facebook. I don't even know what to say. Your paragraph about other parents hits so close to home I think I'm going to start crying here at my desk at work. Thank you for writing this.

R. Hoover said...

I am so sorry that your family has been hurt by other peoples ignorance. Unfortunately, this happens all to often with any child who is different. It's especially sad when a child is ostracized for having a disability.

Would those same people treat a cancer patient the same way? I think not. It seems as though Autism is the only disability that society will not tolerate.

These behaviors are learned at home. Both of my kids have Aspergers. We deal with bullying, rejection, ignorance and misunderstandings on a daily basis. Sadly,adults are the worst offenders.

My daughter will be 16 next year. I want to give her a sweet sixteen party with a DJ, balloons and all of her friends. However, she only has one friend. How do we explain it to our children when no one, including half of their family doesn't show up for their birthday party?

We need to advocate for our kids by educating people about Autism and why our kids act the way they do. Our children should be told everyday how special they really are.

When someone makes fun of my kids, I remind them that kids who are bullies often have poor home lives. I teach them to be tolerant of bullies. At the same time tough, I advise them to walk away and tell an adult. If the adult is doing the bullying,or won't stop the bullying, I step in.

The best advice I can give anyone dealing with this is to educate yourself and your child. Learn federal and state special education laws. A great place to state is www.wrightslaw.com Knowledge is a powerful weapon.

Pie Maker said...

My hear goes out to you and your family. I stand beside you in solidarity.

Kim said...

My nephew was also born in May 2004 and holds a spot on the spectrum. Zachary has been fairly lucky in the respect that the students at his school, for the most part, have been accommodating of his differences. I'm not sure why this is, but I do know that at the beginning of the school year, my sister purchased a coloring book for the class called "My Friend with Autism". She asked the teacher to allow each student to take it home for one night and have their parents read it with them and color one page from it. This allowed both the students and their parents to get at least a rudimentary understanding about Zachary and his needs. I know it's not a panacea and it may not change the hearts of those who refuse to accept differences, but perhaps it might be helpful for some and might give your beloved Rooster a voice and a presence in his school beyond "not normal". Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/My-Friend-Autism-Coloring-Siblings/dp/1885477899/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271871397&sr=1-4
Hugs and support to you and your family!

Anonymous said...

I am so happy to see all the support you have recieved by reaching out. I believe that if the school takes on the role of educating children about people that are "different" and even teaching kids about children that have autism it can go a long way. Kids don't intrinsically understand why another child is "different" or spits at others only that they do and they don't like it. But if someone were to explain to them why that child does the things they do it can make a world of difference. If you are open to your child's classmates knowing about his diagnosis I would start there, you will probably be amazed at what a difference it can make! Best of luck to you and all the other parents out there fighting the same battle! Amy

pixiemama said...

It isn't fair. Plain and simple. To know that little Roo is to love him.

I'm spitting nails right now. Hurry up and get the eye patches, before my nails start putting out eyes.

xo

Anonymous said...

I can feel for your pain. My son recently had a similar experience at a local playground. He has autism but loves to play with other kids. He said hi to a couple of kids who came on to the playground and they wouldn't talk to him. The older boy (about 8) said to my husband "is there something wrong inside him?" and the younger boy (about 5) said "I don't talk to people who talk like that." My husband explained that Josh had autism but that didn't mean they couldn't play with him. Fortunately, the older boy had a cousin with autism so he had some understanding and in the end all of the boys were playing. Yet it still makes me wonder why the older boy asked if there was something wrong inside my son. Is that how his cousin's autism was explained to him?

Kayla said...

G, I've come via "adiaryofamom" but plan to frequent your blog, now. I can't explain with words the emotion I want to express to you. Just know, that some of us out here, we get it. We walk with you, we hurt with you, we rejoice with you and we love with you-everyday, matey. Get that booty fixed up and gear up for the par-tay! I hope it's all Rooster wants and more. :)
((hugs))

Greta B said...

I came to your blog via an acquaintance's Facebook page. My heart aches to hear of this schools lack of responsibility in educating it's students and parents. I'm a Teacher's Aide in NB, Canada. I have the wonderful opportunity to work with children with Autism as well as children with other exceptionalities. All of the children are very supportive and helpful with the children I work with. They invite them into play groups and help them with their daily tasks.
This kind of behavior even from kindergarten children is unacceptable. Very disrespectful. But then I see an increase in lack of respect in all school age children. It also sounds like the teacher has just as much as a problem as the fearful parents she speaks of.

I'm so sorry and I sincerely hope the party goes well.

R. Bennett

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. While my son isn't "autistic" he defintely has some characteristics as well as many, many other issues. I've seen the looks and heard the comments. They are hurtful and wrong. I have friends with Autistic kids as well and I know they've seen/heard it too. Try to keep your chin up. You are doing what you need to for your son. As Temple Grandin's mother told her "you are different, not less", I firmly believe this and am raising my son with this in mind.

The Lesters said...

=( I just came across your blog today. I guess the thing that stuns me the most is these kids were so young. I guess I thought kids that young would be more accepting.

My son was just diagnosed with autism a month ago and this post hit very close to home. I will be praying for your family.

Joy said...

I'm so sorry. Have you been able to reach the principle/teacher and talk about it? What a horrible experience for your little one. Makes me so sad.

gail said...

My heart hurts for you and your boy and your husband. Bless you as you try to teach those who would hurt.

A pair and a spare said...

So sorry for your struggles....
The parents need to be educated and then the chain of education will continue on to their kids.
Easier said than done, huh?
One thing that I've learned with my daughter is that I, as her mom, am her #1 advocate. It is my job to stand up for her, no one else is going to do it.
It sounds like you handled the situation perfectly! Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Your better than me I have just decided that its better for us to just celebrate my sons B-Day with family only,we go to a indoor waterpark that he loves I can't deal with kids and parents that think a child that is different means they can be rude.Hang in there.

Anna said...

I am another mom who was with your family today on that playground. I hope the principal is going to take action. Perhaps it is time to send the school counselor to that classroom for some empathy training for the students?

Valerie Foley said...

We Australian ASD parents are enraged on your behalf.

It is never OK to let words like these become acceptable.

And if the kids don't understand that, it's time for us grown ups to step in and help.

CippaLippa said...

I want to comment by telling a different anecdote, one about sexual orientation and kids' perceptions. My daughter is growing in a very liberal family; her aunt is happily gay, and I have raised both of my children making sure to mention that they will someday fall in love with a boy, or with a girl, whoever they'll choose.
Well, even in our enlightened household, we have already had a couple of incidents in which my now 8-yo daughter has come up saying that being gay is not normal. In one instance, she taunted a boy in her (Berkeley) school because he has two moms.
I am writing this because I am not entirely sure the blame should be put on parents only; kids have an inner need for conformity that will make them say awful things at times. This might not relieve your pain, and it should not diminish your anger at what happened. But "normalcy" is a concept that kids struggle with as much as adults do, and I think that talking to them (the kids in your son's school - and maybe their parents) could help a lot. And then talking about it again. And again. And again. I hope my daughter will grow open-minded and accepting of all kinds of lives and of "normalcies", because we help her being so. But it will happen only if someone around her keeps talking about difference, and only by constantly exposing her to it.

As for birthday parties: my daughter (the same one) is very popular in school. Yet only two people from her class showed up at her birthday party last year. I think that's just the way it goes. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

oh dear u r the lukiest parents that GOD blessed u with such children as he knows that u r the one who can look after his speacial children.Dont be sad one day who are saying they are not normal will say they are speacialAnd ur lucky as u can show your talents through these children.Love and to your family.

Anonymous said...

While it must have been absolutely awful for you and your husband to have heard this, you now know that many of us have been in a similar position. You spoke up and now you know you are not alone. We currently have a parent that is trying very hard to get my son kicked out of the mainstream classroom and has "instructed" her son to treat my son like his is some evil being who never does anything good. I wish there were answers to get loony parents to treat people with humanity. The good think is that there are many parents of typical kids who are open to hearing about your story and provide encouragement and support without judgement. You just have to find them....they are out there.

Gwyneth said...

Oh Gayle, your post made me cry. I love you guys and I love Rooster too.

Pete said...

We've not felt the blatant sting which you and your husband have experienced, but we know it is there, unspoken, in the shadows and whispers which we can't see nor hear. My wife and I have turned that hurt, rejection and discrimination into advocacy (might I dare say anger) and we are unrlenting with the schools, government, neighbors, friends, families in our efforts to ensure our Olivia is accepted for who she is - a beautiful 7 y/o with a heart as big as Mt. Washington. Figuratively speaking, we'll punch anyone in the nose who even dares to question her inclusion or acceptance....Hang in there, stay tough and by all means, don't let the bastards get you down!

One Mom said...

This is what I fear each and every day for my daughter. We haven't encountered it yet, but I'm sure our day will come.

Hugs and love and lots of prayers for you and your family.

Beth RD said...

I am so, so sorry this happened to your son and to your husband.

However, I agree with CippaLippa that it's not necessarily true that these kids are learning this attitude directly from their parents. It's kind of like the recent work that indicates that racial prejudice is 'natural' to some extent (I got this from the recent book _Nurture Shock_). Even little kids, even kids from liberal non-prejudiced families, form their own opinions about who is like them and who is not, who is okay and who is not. Apparently it's not enough for liberal parents to read books featuring characters of different races, send their child to a multi-racial school, etc.; they have to EXPLICITLY say that people of different colors are just as good, that people with different behaviors and ways of seeing the world are just as good.

It's entirely possible that some of the parents of the children there would be horrified at their behavior. I certainly hope so. It's 'natural', after all, for little kids to hit each other when they're angry, but just because it's natural doesn't mean it's OK in a civilized society. I'm going to go over this again tonight with my son; it's never OK to treat another person badly like that.

Sharon said...

Those type people are not worth even associating with anyway. You are doing the right thing by killing them with kindness. Children learn to isolate others who are different at all from their parents. Just keep your heart open for people who love you and your child the way he is and make sure he knows this too! My son was just diagnosed a few months ago in the autism spectrum so I look forward to reading your blog. Thank you for sharing. It will help you and others.
Best wishes,
Sharon and Happy Birthday to your beautiful special child!!

M said...

i remember being at the receiving end of this...a little one, not fitting in, receiving lots of bruises, some scars, mostly on the playground. what was strange: eventually they sent me to school counselor. i kept running into bully problems, so they had me talk with a counselor.

it didn't occur to me until years later to ask: why was i the one being sent for counseling? the bullies did their thing...the school perpetuated their violence by indicating i was the one in need of help. school, it was a strange place. that was the early 80's, i hope it's better now. kids are clearly just as cruel, but i'm hoping schools are getting better at managing this. i don't know.

Sharon said...

Those type people are not worth even associating with anyway. You are doing the right thing by killing them with kindness. Children learn to isolate others who are different at all from their parents. Just keep your heart open for people who love you and your child the way he is and make sure he knows this too! My son was just diagnosed a few months ago in the autism spectrum so I look forward to reading your blog. Thank you for sharing. It will help you and others.
Best wishes,
Sharon and Happy Birthday to your beautiful special child!!

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

I'm so sorry. I know this pain all too well. I found out - too late in the "game" - that you can write sensitivity training or disability awareness (for his peers) into his IEP, and then the school is obligated to make that happen. It just burns me that we have to do these things, when everyone should be respected, regardless of their differences, in the first place. Sending you a big ASD-mom hug.

Stimey said...

Oh, God. I wish I had words for you. I'm so sorry. I am so saddened by those children and their treatment of your family. That's so not okay.

Kat said...

Just wanted you to know I read and I care.

Kathryn said...

Im late in reading this, sorry!

Keep your chin up, we all know what you are going through and we are sending love your way.

Im so sorry this happened.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there.. hugs... I agree start with the school!

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you. I have a 12 year old son and we take this walk almost every day. He has to remind me that he is normal and every one else is different.

luvuroland said...

My son was recently diagnosed and right now he is only 2 years old. I see people stare at us sometimes watching how Joseph behaves. I worry that as he grow older, his behaviors will be noticed even more. Then when he attends school, I wonder how he will be treated by his peers. My heart goes out to you...as you experience what I worry about the most. :(

KAL said...

This is so not okay. I'm sorry I'm just now reading this. You've gotten tons of supportive comments, I hope things have improved. Thank god for this community.