So, school started back up for The Monster Man yesterday. Hopefully this means my sabbatical from writing a few times a week is over – since I no longer have to separate the boys every ten seconds.
On that note, I was going to write today about Kaleb’s first (adventurous) day of school, as well as a few other things surrounding it. Then, I read a letter. A horrid, despicable, heart sickening letter, and my focus changed for today. For those of you who have not yet read this piece of trash, here it is:
The family of a 13 year old boy on the Autism Spectrum discovered this shoved under their front door. Go ahead, read it again.
I had to read it more than four times before I could make my mind believe what my eyes were seeing. Of course, it didn’t help that each and every time I read it I got more and more upset.
Some of you have probably already seen it – considering I saw it for the first time yesterday afternoon, and have then seen it reposted on facebook more than 12 times. If so, sorry for dragging a little bit of darkness into your day, but I have a few things to say about this.
First of all, to the vile excuse for a human being that wrote this garbage:
Way to go – you just pissed off half the modern world. Well done. I’d like to think if I met you on the street I would walk right up, stick my finger in your face and say “Look Lady…” but I can’t go any further than that, seeing as how you clearly are not a “lady” by even the most vague definition. Of course, even If I changed the word “lady” to any number of the foul things that pop to the forefront of my mind, I still wouldn’t say them. You may wonder why – maybe you’d even be so naive to think me a coward. However, you’d be very, very wrong. I wouldn’t be the coward in this situation – that role has been taken by a spineless woman who hides her name and leaves notes under doors like some petty child who was not raised properly enough to take responsibility for her own actions. Kudos to you, you’ve just won the invertebrate of the year award.
The real reason I would never walk up, finger ready to point and mouth ready to explode? Well, how about being a role model for my children? Instead of showing them that hate spawns hate, and ugly spawns ugly – you’ve just given us all an opportunity to teach our kids first hand that the best revenge in life is to be the better person. Something I wonder if you’ve ever bothered to teach your “Normal” children. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not a saint. I’m perfectly aware of my flaws, they make me human. But I sure as anything wouldn’t want to teach my kids that the best way to fight a wicked witch is to sink to her level – sometimes all you need is a good support system and a bucket of water.
So, allow me to teach you a thing or two, about the children you so harshly condemn.
These children are miracles. They embody everything this world has. The light in the darkness of a civilization that spawns heartless people. The struggles and trials and sacrifices made to lead good, fulfilling lives. They are brilliant, and challenging, and more courageous than most of us could ever dare to be. They face fear each and every moment of their lives and they persevere. They show honor and loyalty with such clarity it is almost heart breaking. When they give love they give it freely – without exception or rules. They love you because they want to love you, and that is that. It is pure, unselfish, and endless. They bring new colors and ideas into the world without ever realizing they are doing it.
They teach everyone around them what it truly means to be brave, selfless, patient, and caring. They are faced with challenges that for many seem minor, but for them are nearly insurmountable. Can you possibly imagine what it would feel like to walk around all day with spiders crawling on your skin? That child across the street may be wearing a tee-shirt that feels just that way. Can you imagine what it would feel like to walk into a room where the volume is so loud you can feel your eardrum vibrating, the light is so bright your eyes hurt even when closed, the people and objects milling around to such a degree it feels as if the world is closing in on you and you can barely catch a breath? Welcome to a trip to the local grocery store for some kids. Can you imagine waking up every night in the middle of the most terrifying nightmare you’ve ever had – and not being able to escape it? Being awake while stuck in your nightmare? Not knowing what is real and what is imagined? Not knowing if that’s really your mom trying to comfort you, or the monster from your dream? Welcome to sleep for some kids.
Everything is different. Sight, sound, taste, texture – all of it is different. No two kids are the same – and that goes double for a kid on the spectrum.
But they do it. They wear uncomfortable clothes because they want to fit in. They go to the grocery store because they don’t have a choice – they need food, and it’s not like mom can leave them alone at home. They suffer through, and they make it. They have parents and family members, and friends who would stop the world from spinning if for just one minute that meant their child on the spectrum could feel safe. We give up everything for these children. We give up friends, and past lives. We give up BBQs and football games. We give up sleep and favorite foods. We read the same social stories over and over and over again, no matter if we could do it from memory, because our children need to see the story. We drive from point A to point Z while listening to the same song or movie we’ve been listening to for a year, so our children can spend twenty minutes with a doctor who might have some insight. WE suffer through heartwrenching IEP meetings, and being called horrible names by strangers when our children get overstimulated in public. We go to school – our own school – where we teach ourselves the difference between ABA and OT. Where we learn which therapy methods work best, and which ones cause our kids to spiral out of control. We buy swings, and weighted vests, all hinging on the hope it might make life better for THEM.
We do not do this because we want praise. We do not do this because we feel superior, or we want sympathy. Those are the last things in the world any of us want. We want our kids to have a real fighting chance – a chance for this world to make a place for them – because they make the world better just by being in it. We didn’t ask for this, and neither did our children – but there isn’t a single part of it I would ever change or take back. We live in fear for our children, not just for the future, but for the present. An 8 hour school day feels like an eternity when you spend it sitting by the phone waiting to be told to come and get your child. When you never know if they’re going to come home happy or sad, or lonely, or confused. We want everything you want for your kids – but we have to fight harder to get it – and believe me, we will.
There is nothing I would not do for my children. I would take on anything and anyone who stands in their way, and I’d do it with a smile on my face – because I am my children’s champion. We are the families of special needs kids – and we are getting stronger. Our voices are getting louder – and it won’t be long before the voices of closed-minded, selfish people like you are drowned out altogether. And the world will be a better place for it. Because our children are gifts. They’re beautiful, chaotic, baffling, unexpected gifts – and you don’t just toss that kind of gift away. You take it and you run, no matter how far you have to go.
I hope with all of my heart that your children have more positive, loving influences in their lives. Because like I said before – hate doesn’t have to spawn hate, and it would be a great shame for someone like you to twist the minds of children to hate. Children weren’t meant to be hateful – they were meant to be loved. To bring new sights and sounds and scents into the world. To bring joy and laughter and love to everyone around them. If I were you, I’d take a good hard look at yourself – ugly isn’t something that shows in the skin – it starts in the soul and turns the heart black. For your sake, I hope it isn’t too late for you to see just how very wrong you are.
Finally – to the family who is stuck dealing with this nightmare:
I don’t know how I would have reacted if I were you. I know it wouldn’t have been pretty, and I give you a huge round of applause for handling such a difficult time with grace. Your son is lucky to have you – and as far as I’m concerned, you’ve got our full support as well. This will pass, and while it may always leave a mark on your heart – try to make that mark a good one. Instead of focusing on how cruelly you were treated by one person – think on how many people have stood up to show support and love for you all. Even when you feel at your most alone – know that you aren’t, not really. We’ve got your back.
“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” ~Walt Disney