Saturday, October 4, 2008

Enquiring minds...

This kindergarten/real world business is hard for me. Last night bubs' school had something called 'Family fun night', it was like a mini carnival for the kids and it was held in the gym and the cafeteria. Me being in need of control of my surroundings volunteered to work it. It was my first 'pta event'. I feel like I need to get a handle on this school and maybe make some friends. But I find that we are straddling two worlds here, not entirely comfortable in each. We left the autism world in which we were immersed to join the land of the neurotypicals. Not sure how to toggle both.
First off, I was in the gym manning my bean bag station when a little girl came up to take a turn. Her aunt was with her and I could tell she was in kindy. She had a somewhat unusual name, which I will just abbreviate as 's'. So after hearing her name, I asked 's' if she was in bubs' class. She said yes, and I told her that bubs came home with a picture she made him the first week of school and it was beautiful. She proceeded to tell me how annoying my son was. She actually said 'bubs annoys me'. I asked her just what did he do to bother her so much. You know what her answer was? 'He always is saying 'hello' to me and wants to play with me'. She went on and on and on. Ya know we spent the better part of the last 4 or so years trying to get my son to say the word 'hello' and navigate the maze of social interactions involved in getting someone to play with you. It is hard to kind of regulate, and my bubs does need to learn some boundaries and improve his ability to read social cues. I just don't believe he is as horrible as this little princess made him out to be. In all fairness, her aunt was mortified and she did report back to the girls mom who was manning the popcorn station in the cafeteria.
So now I spent the duration of the evening wondering if my son is socially inappropriate. I got transferred out of the gym and moved to a table in the cafeteria. A woman came up to me and asked me if I was bubs' mom and I said yes. It was 's's' mom. She profusely apologized for her daughters remark. I of course told her it was no problem and that she was just voicing her opinion and that my son is super friendly and doesn't always know when to quit.
I must also explain that bubs' is in the inclusion class. Which means that there are 12 'typical' (and I use that term loosely) in the class and 8 classified. I feel like I need an instruction manual on how to deal with this. At some point in the convo with 's's' mom she of course had to ask me where we lived. This is not our neighborhood school. I told her that, and I told her that my son was one of the inclusion kids, because she looked like she already figured it out. Of course another mom close by who has a daughter in bubs' class scooted on over to join in our convo. Look, they were really friendly but I just felt like I was cornered. 'S's' mom proceeded to ask me what was the matter with my son, and why was he in inclusion. She said she noticed that all the inclusion kids seemed fine and that none of them 'had a third arm growing out of their head, or anything'. Gee, think of all the countless hours of therapy I wasted on my child, since he didn't have the requisite third leg growing out of his skull. I think I had a 'look' on my face because she then said I didn't have to answer if I didn't want to. Oh really. I made up some vagueness about speech delays and early intervention just to end the conversation.

I am VERY proud of bubs and under the right circumstances I will share. But this woman should have controlled her curiosity, and I really think that was all it was. She wasn't mean, just overly nosy. But it was the third time that night someone asked me what bus stop I was at/where I lived/ who is my son's teacher. Normal questions I suppose. Nothing outlandish. But it was a real conversation killer when I delivered my answer. You can almost hear the crickets chirping.
I know I am super sensitive. I probably sound like a paranoid nut job. I just don't know how to handle all this.
We were super insulated, super nurtured and I had a really tight (and still have)bond with some of the moms I met at bubs' old school. It was a wonderful support system. I am now in a world where people don't know where we came from. They think that I came from where they came from. I am not ashamed of my son at all. I am just fiercely protective of him. Fiercely. I never want anyone to not want to be his friend because of a label or to gossip about him, or to even look at him with a strange curiosity. I want them to see the goodness in him, to know that he is an individual. I am afraid people will just hear the word autism and think of rain man or headbanging and be frightened. I also feel like the burden should not be on my child to change their mind about it. I don't know where we are headed down this road, and into or out of those proverbial 'woods'. Once you are 'out of the closet' you cannot go back in.
It's different for everyone. I have friends who have cards they hand out in public places, for the very same reason I don't want to tell anyone. So that people will treat their children with kindness and understanding. They don't want anyone judging if their child is stimming, or having a meltdown. It's really all part of the same post traumatic stress disorder we are collectively going through.
I know I am reading way too much into this. I know most people aren't that judgy (or at least I hope not) . I know that 's's' mom was just being nosy and trying to gain an understanding of what makes a child qualify for special ed, although I really did think her daughter was 'one of us' and perhaps had some social issues. I know. I just don't know how to handle it.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bubs has a very long school career ahead of him and you are gonna have to try your best to chill a little bit. It really doesnt get any better, even with kids that arent "inclusion" kids trust me. In a way it might even be harder with neuro typical kids, I have both. With bubs you can have an excuse why he might have social issues. But what about a neuro typical 10 year old girl who is the only one in her class not invited to a glrls sleepover. All parents experience that kind of hurt, so you gotta start working on that thicker skin now-good luck!

bonbon momma said...

I don't have any experience with typical children, I only have bubs. I know I am sensitive, and I do not expect everyone to like him. I think my stress lies in how to handle the whole inclusion thing. I want to be private about it, but that seems impossible.
I also don't think it is any easier for any parent although I don't really use autism as an excuse. It is something that is part of our lives.

Anonymous said...

You handled it perfectly. He is an amazing kid!

Anonymous said...

You should come live in Mineola - everyone goes to their own school no matter what their needs are because each school is able to handle them. So there isnt that pause when you say where you live, because that situation does not exist. And everyone is so used to so many different needs that I really feel like the conversation you just described does not take place too often. Besides I would be able to navigate you away from some of those moms...
ttys, experianced PTA kitten...

Anonymous said...

People can be very rude and thoughtless. They just want gory details to gossip about, It's like there's a competition to see who has the "best" kid and to them, any child who is "different" is out of the running.
Give people like that the briefest, blandest explanation possible and move on to people who are your true friends and who appreciate Bubs for who he is.
-Jill

Marla said...

Woah. WTF? That first comment is bizzare. No wonder it was Anonymous. With Bubs you can have an excuse? What the hell? Sigh. Some people are so ignorant.

"we are straddling two worlds here, not entirely comfortable in each" I totally know what you mean and appreciate your honesty with this struggle. It is hard. Very hard. You are an excellent mother and advocate. You will figure out how to balance it. The trick is knowing who are your true friends when you begin making new ones.

Marla said...

Mineola sounds like a dream. A fairy tale, perhaps. We have lived a lot of places and I certainly never experienced that. A lucky anonymous there.

kristi said...

If somebody asks me, I tell them TC has Autism. But I understand where you are coming from. It sounds as if these two were only trying to "get in your business."

Anonymous said...

Stumbled on your blog, and can so relate to you. My Bubs was also just moved to the "typical" class. I too am feeling the questions, etc... I know I'm sensitive, but it hurts. I'm trying hard too to navigate outside my "bubble."