Ever have one of those days when you swallow so much water and just want to sink to the bottom instead of kick to the top? Yeah, me neither.
In the autism world, you don’t have a choice. You kick and thrash to the top just to catch your breath long enough before the other wave crashes down over you.
It’s back to school time.
We’ve had a rough summer. Sure Fortnite was to blame for all of my boys’ brain drain. But the big heavy was where to send our son to high school. I am now an official expert on all things school, having spent nearly two years researching and interviewing and seeking the right environment for our boy.
The thing is, everyone loves him. The thing is, no place is perfect. The thing is, every child with autism is so different, there is no one solution.
The thing is, this mama knows her boy better than anyone in the world. And this mama alone holds out hope for only the very best. Because his future is bright.
Yet it’s been traumatic. Transitions are a challenge for most neurotypical kids, but for the Aspie, transitions can reach catastrophic levels. A transition not knowing where you are transitioning to, well, that’s rough.
For the mama of the Aspie, the load is heavy:
You call educational experts and seek their recommendations, hoping they have the panacea somewhere for you. You meet with school psychologists. You meet with your private psychologist. You meet with support teams. You call the college counselor in the hopes that she will tell you great things.
You research California schools and neighborhoods in Key West because your friends out here just don’t have room for you anymore. You research schools and rental properties in Colorado because the fresh mountain air does the soul right. You seek boarding schools and private schools because someone can do it right and its just not me. You find the most supportive public school yet the environment is just so fast and chaotic that just the thought involves panic from the boy.
You call all the principals. You call teachers who don’t even know you. You talk to the Dean.
Do you push him? Do you protect him? Do you enable him? Will you make it all worse?
Then, the last minute decision is made. Cringing, we enroll. We hope and we dream. The boy feels relief – and mama bear panics.
The next wave swells and new wave of calls begin.
You call the drum teacher. You call the pediatrician. You call the psychologist. And the nurse. And the coach. You find tutors. You call a few more teachers. You introduce yourself to the new teaching team. You call the principal again. You ask for schedules and routines and quiet places.
You research accommodations and write up a manifesto of support and knowledge, praying you will say all the write things that will make this year magical because Lord knows he needs it.
You talk with the academic registrar and the headmaster and the lunch lady in the hopes that they will craft the picture perfect high school landscape where your son will somehow manage an incredibly difficult social world along with ridiculous academic pressure, be competitive for the right colleges – and yet still find the time to pursue his dreams.
But in order to pursue a dream, you have to have the capacity to dream. And in order to dream, you need to live and breathe and rest and relax. All things counter to the struggle to live a life as a square in a round world.
So you pull up your big girl britches and gear up.
It’s back to school we go.