To the Mom Who Referred to My Child as “Those Children”

photo by Randalyn Hill

“The kids who are going further in life aren’t the special ed kids sorry to say but it’s the truth.”

This statement was said by a woman on the internet who feels that it is unfair that the special ed children in her district get to attend school five days a week, when her non-disabled child is only allowed to attend twice. If that wasn’t awful enough to read, she then takes it one step further and says—“Also, when I say special, I mean head banging, screaming, throwing fits, special. My child is going a lot further in life than those children, and should be the one going five days a week, not two. And if you don’t like that truth, I don’t know what to tell you.”

Okay thanks for that atrocious opinion. Now you can hear my truth.

Dear _______,

Hi. It’s crazy that I don’t actually know you since you so freely chose to attack and address something that effects my daily life on a deeply personal level. First and foremost I would like to address the last statement of yours that I mentioned—“head banging, screaming, throwing fits, special”.

You successfully described my autistic son who is 7 years old.

He has flipped desks over, ran out of school buildings, punched kids, hit and spit at teachers, thrown uncontrollable fits, and ripped up all his school work in his teachers face… to name a few. And this is just school behavior. At home he will break things, threaten me, physically harm his sister, slam doors, destroy property, and scream at everything… to name a few.

Here’s the thing though—underneath all of that is a child who is extremely smart and in the highest reading and math level of his class. He has already “published” a book and has written five more stories as a series to follow it. He loves to learn and quite honestly is smarter than all the “non-disabled” children that I personally know. So… I’m not sure who you THINK you are describing when you say “head banging, screaming, throwing fits, special” because my child is all of that and then some; and I can tell you he IS going places. Good places. Successful places. He’ll very likely go pretty “far in life”.

However…

Other special ed children are maybe not on that same journey, and the reality is that many of them do struggle academically and will have those same struggles their entire life. So you actually are right that your daughter may be “going further in life” than some of these children. All I really have to say to that though, is that you have to be either completely selfish or just uneducated on it to not understand why “those children” (who are steps behind yours in many ways) would need the extra help and attention during a pandemic.

I’m sorry that you find it unfair that other children get special services especially during this time, but let me give you a better understanding as to why. My son has an IEP. You know what an IEP is like? It’s like a ramp for a person who is in a wheelchair. Someone who can’t walk is still capable of getting around as long as they have the special accommodations that they need. Without ramps people in wheelchairs would not be able to go into all the same places as someone who can walk. So it would be crazy to think that A. all people deserve or need ramps, and B. that it doesn’t even really matter since they aren’t capable of physically accomplishing as much as non wheelchair people—so why even bother trying to accommodate them. That would be crazy to say right?

Except that’s literally what you are saying but in regards to special needs children and the services they need.

I understand your frustration as a parent who is having to potentially rearrange your weekly schedule due to this very inconvenient reality that we are all in. I hear you on that. If you are a working mom I truly am sorry that this entire thing puts you in a difficult position. COVID-19 has effected so many families financially. Schools opening in the fall with these restrictions and crazy schedules is a hard reality to face. I understand that seeing other children being able to attend school more regularly may feel very frustrating to you, but I’m going to challenge you to really stop and think about why it’s important that these children receive their in class services over your child on a daily basis. If you haven’t already, consider even just reading up on ASD (autism spectrum disorder) so you can better understand how an inconsistent school schedule can be extremely hard for them; more so than a non autistic child. Without a DAILY consistent school schedule my autistic son will struggle in ways that you may never understand. Again… that would be his “wheelchair ramp”; something that your daughter does not need in the same way my child does.

You also stated that “all kids should be going five days a week”. I may agree with that statement to some degree, but saying that doesn’t change the fact that not ALL children’s lives are effected the same by the schools closing. I understand that the argument there is that you simply think schools should be fully open for all children in an equal manner. Cool. Then maybe next time just say that. Specifically targeting special needs children made it about much more than that. You took a valid argument about the virus and how you think schools should look, and you made it about how normal children are going further in life therefore why give the disabled ones the special attention.

It was hurtful, inappropriate, ignorant, and careless.

I truly hope that as a result of all this you can educate yourself on special needs children, and what it looks like for them to struggle. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming that maybe you just had no clue why giving special needs children different services during this time was important. As an autism parent there is no judgment there, but if I can help educate you then I will do so.

However…

If you already ARE educated on everything I’m speaking on for some reason or another, and this is just your educated opinion… then I guess you really are selfish and there’s no way I can change your perspective.

As you yourself said—“sorry to say but it’s the truth… if you don’t like that truth, I don’t know what to tell you”.

Sincerely,
Olivia

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