I’ve taken a back seat to the autism world lately. It’s been nice. I don’t want to come back. But I am compelled.
You see, I don’t write and advocate just for me. I am fine. My family is fine. Actually, we are great, and I am so thankful. But this little boy I know, he is not fine.
This little boy is just starting his journey in school. And he can’t find a place. You see, most of the independent schools won’t take him. “I think he needs to find somewhere that can better fit his needs,” they say.
What are his needs anyway, mama wonders? He just gets a little over-stimulated at times, she guesses. Sometimes the loud noises and crowds and fast pace of things upsets him and that keeps him from learning.
But he is really smart and would thrive in a small, quieter environment with a little more individual attention. His mama knows that for sure.
Well, we don’t really know what his needs are, they say. But we don’t have supports for kids like him. He’ll struggle. We will struggle.
We don’t have funds for that.
Another school makes zero accommodations for anyone. Most kids learn just fine under our system, they proudly exclaim. That’s your problem, not ours, they say to the struggling student.
We have always done it this way.
Another school says they can take him. And they proceed to isolate him in a room alone all day. Mama pulls the plug on that one fast.
Another school says they have no room. Another has no teacher. Another doesn’t even return the phone call.
Mama dials again.
But the big public school will take him. Absolutely. We will develop a governing document, we will do the evaluations, we will bring in an aid, we will help integrate him with his peers. We can do this. I guess this is one instance where the federal government is a great protector, and thankfully so.
God bless these amazing teachers.
But yes, this school is 30 minutes from mom and dad’s home. It’s 45 minutes from the office. And, even worse, it separates him from his brother.
Separation and isolation.
Is this the best we can do? Do we leave the different learners, the beautiful, talented, precious young minds to governmental care? Does mama pass seven independent schools on the way to his, the one farthest away? Is this their only option? Do we make up excuses as to why this child does not fit in, do we ignore the phone call?
Get it together, world.
God has great plans for the 1 in 40 children today on the autism spectrum. He makes no mistakes. And all of His creation is beautiful, created in His own spectacular image.
They have smart minds, they have intense focus. They are compassionate, deep, creative thinkers who are kind, old souls. They don’t play the popularity game and instead see things for what they are. For who they are. And they are not afraid to walk a different path.
And by the way, this goes for all of the kids out there who learn just a bit differently. Who may feel less-than because they sense the failure. Who struggle to sit still or organize their thoughts. And who work for hours on a project that should take minutes.
You are not a problem. You are not a burden.
Our future needs thinkers like this. Like you.
We should beg for the opportunity to teach them -to teach you- in our schools.