By Patricia Kormendy
To be honest we always think ten times before contacting you. We know that our son’s needs are high, so we will pick our battles and only address the most serious concerns we have.
We understand and know that your time as a teacher is finite and you have a class full of other students you have to teach. We are fully aware that our son is a handful sometimes and that he does annoy the other students. The other students annoy him too, but he also really wants to make friends – he just doesn’t know how to.
Please know that if our son seems irritated, sleepy, quiet, withdrawn or angry towards the end of a school day there is a good reason behind the behaviour. You see, our son has been “masking” all day as well as he can. Peer pressure is extremely difficult – fitting in and being accepted is a daily challenge for him. Having to hide his stims and sit most of the day is another hardship for him.
We are sometimes just as puzzled as you are by so many of our son’s behaviours. He is with us for more hours than he is with you, so we get it. Please don’t see us as the enemies. We want to help you. We are your best ally, so when we make a suggestion, please remember that we are not trying to be difficult or make your life harder.
It is so important for our son to feel that he is a valuable member of the classroom and the school. We all crave a sense of belonging, to feel like we fit in. Please don’t overlook him. Include him, give him a role in the classroom and try to help him feel that he belongs. The other students will follow your lead, please remember how powerful your example is.
Please also know that our family has put in an extraordinary amount of effort to help our son get to this point. He has come such a long way, and we are so proud of him. Sometimes, my husband and I sit by ourselves and we discuss how far our son has come, especially with the continued doctor appointments, the diagnosis, the therapies, the sleepless nights, the meltdowns, the picky eating, the judgemental stares from strangers, the laughs, the tears…and we smile at each other and know that it is worth every second of our time and sacrifices. We have lovingly invested so much time and resources into various therapies and interventions; we are tired but we will never give up on him; he has so much potential, please try to see what we see.
Please know that it is HOPE which fuels us. It is hope which gives us the strength to keep going, to keep researching and persisting in helping our son to achieve his full potential in life.
One of the biggest fears we special needs parents have is the challenge of waking up every morning knowing that our child/children are going to get judged for who they are. Seeing the struggles our children face with day to day life is a horrible feeling as a parent and only those who accept someone with Autism will understand. Please don’t give up on our son. Please try to see what we see in him.