My child has Autism. Sailing the seas can be rough at times. There are storms, obstacles and problems navigating. Autism in our world is a lot like piracy. It robs. It hijacks. It leaves you battling for your vessel and your child’s new path. Autism also presents you a world of discovery, hidden treasure, and challenges you realize you’re up for. Life is a balance, and it’s no different with a child on the Spectrum. Autism Pirate is a blog devoted to discussing the good, the bad and the ugly.
Yesterdaywas the first day of summer school. Rye now has a year of middle school under his belt so we didn't have too much worry heading intoyesterday. It’s hard to believe that he started 7thgrade.
Things last year started rough. The transition to middle school was hard. It was exhausting actually.
He struggled a lot. He hated it.
He doesn't hate it anymore.
We advocated for some things and they are working with us. We have built a great relationship with a wonderful teacher. We involved the Autism Specialist for the district and he is really great too.
Rye had to jump in an feel really uncomfortable while his team got to know him better. He went from having a lot of hands on support in elementary school to having a whole new situation in middle school.
He tolerated it. He hung in. We think we have fixed the biggest struggles and he’s doing okay.
At the end of the day yesterday there was some confusion. There always is on the first day of school. When Rye transitioned to middle school we decided it would be best if he took the special trasnsportation bus instead of the big bus that picks up mainly kids who don’t receive special education services. He didn’t care. He was happy all year with what he called the “little bus”.
At the end of the day yesterday he did not get on the little bus, he got on the big bus. I was kind of freaking out. He was running late. I called the school, I called the bus service, I texted the neighbor, I emailed the principal. Obviously I wasn’t “kind of” freaking out…
He got home. He was fine. He told me all about it. Turns out the driver of the other bus is a mom he knows from elementary school and she used to drive his bus. “She knows me mom. It’s fine.”
"Ok Rye, but I don’t think that you will be riding that bus again."
"Why mom? I know what I’m doing. Why do I need to ride the little bus anyway?”
We openly talk with Rye about why he has extra help and why he needs it. I’m very comfortable talking with him about his autism diagnosis. That is not what had me feeling the way I was feeling. I told him that I wanted him to ride the other bus because I worry that there might be and probably are a lot of bullies on the middle school bus. I told him that I couldn’t really think of a worse place for bullying than the middle school bus.
He said, “Mom I know what I’m doing. I know about talking to bullies and I’m going to ride that bus TO school so call the bus lady and tell her.”
He knows what he’s getting into. I called the lady. He woke up an hour earlier and didn’t have a problem doing it. He rode the big bus to school. I have no idea how it went. I probably won't know until he gets home. I have no idea if they will even let him ride the big bus home today.
I'm not going to call. I'm going to let him handle it. He knows what he’s doing.
I've decided I need to make sure I’m not limiting him even when I think I’m doing it to protect him or because it's just easier. He deserves to try. He’s earned it. He knows he might be bullied. He’s aware. He’s made his choice for now and maybe it’s time for me to grow up a little bit too.
We acquire the strength we have overcome. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
That has always been a “favorite” quote of mine. I don’t think I total understood it completely until yesterday.
Rye might not last another day on the big bus. I might ultimately decide not to let him ride it anyway; heck the school might decide not to let him? However, I sure do love that he wanted to try.
He started middle school last year and he struggled.
He hated it.
He figured it out.
He acquired more strength.
I can’t control whether or not there will be a bully on the middle school bus or anywhere else for that matter.
I can hope that there is never a bully anywhere at any time.
But I don’t really need to do that anymore.
He knows what to do. He doesn't have to like it and he won't, he might not handle it great if it does happen, but he will tolerate it. He will keep trying. He will ask for help. He will tell me.
He's learning to trust that he knows what he’s doing.
He's growing up. He's acquired strength and now he's sharing it with me.
So... It's been a while on the blogging front . I apologize to my most likely two fans. Lol. Anyway, I guess I apologize again for the fact that I'm turning a Facebook rant into a blog but I guess that is what blogging is all about.
I also don't really totally understand why all this "gorilla" business has me so enraged. It just does. I've been going through a lot lately. I'm sensitive. I do understand that it is easy to judge when you have absolutely no idea what someone is going through. It's easy to judge when it might make you feel better about your own situation.
I get it. I get all of that on a level that some may never understand.
Below is what began as a Facebook rant that quickly became a long overdo blog about a lot of pinned up anger maybe.
I guess I also want people to understand that I know that I am I'm complaining about people needing to find better things to do with their time then complain all while I am also complaining...
Here is the link from my friend Meredith, that started the thoughts in my brain that actually began
yesterday when my friend Laura posted a similar link from youtube that I can't figure out how to share.
I began my post as:
Thanks for sharing Meredith Hoenes-Buckman. If there is one thing I know it's that there are many parents who try hard and sometimes kids just slip away.
I also know that sometimes kids wander for no reason at all. Rye did. I lost him at the City Museum. He was five. I didn't tell anybody about it for a long time. I didn't even tell Scott how bad it was until later. Days later. At that time in our life it was just better for me to carry the load, the worry, and the embarrassment. In someways it still is I guess.
My experience was so bad that I've never shared the whole story until now. I know I've been an open book. I have a blog about my experiences, my shortcomings and my successes. However in this situation I was so devastated that and I was so embarrassed that I didn't share this story right away. Technically, I haven't shared it for 8 years.
I've told some of you my "city museum" story but if you've heard it you're a good friend and I guarantee I haven't told you all of it until now.
Back to the story.
They (the city museum) locked it down for 30+ minutes. Nobody in. Nobody out. A child is "missing". I'm not complaining in the least. I appreciated then. I appreciate it now.
I will never forget the looks I got and the comments that were made once I asked for help. I finally panicked and asked for help, but not as quickly as most might think. I heard from many other parents as I was talking to the security officers, "What was she doing? How could she lose her kid? I need to leave. I'm late for mommy and me" Etc. etc. etc. The rest of that 30 minutes is a blur and to be honest all I remember is that I found him.
I found him.
"They" didn't. I remember saying how he loved the airplane outside and they assured me he could never make it outside without a parent because that was a rule of the City Museum. No child was allowed to go from inside to outside without parent permission.
"Mrs. Shade we need to take this seriously, if he is not inside then we need to take all of the necessary precautions."
"OK, I understand. Please find my boy. His name is Rye."
I lost him.
We were in the floor, in the caves, on the inside of the City Museum. (If you've been there, you know exactly what I mean.). Wyatt fell. He wasn't quite three and I turned my eyes off of Rye for two seconds.
He was gone.
I didn't panic at first because to be quite honest I'd lost him many times. He wandered. Not because he was mad, because he was sad, not because he was happy, he just wandered away. It was his way. I was used to it.
I called his name. I yelled it out in the way I typically did and he didn't respond in the way that he typically did. He never responded to his name. It was not a big deal for my kid to not answer his name. He never answered his name really. I still didn't panic. I didn't have any reason to.
I was conditioned to not panic.
I found my way to the exit of the underground cave feature dragging my poor toddler by his hand.
I still didn't panic.
I went to his favorite spots on the inside on the main level. My voice and my heart rate continuing to "not panic" because it was a familiar scene to me. A scene in which for a couple of minutes that turned to 10, maybe 15. I had absolutely no idea where my five-year-old boy was in a city that has one of the highest crime rates in the country and it was still okay. I truly wasn't panicked.
I was conditioned. Rye wandered from me at parks, at Walmart, in almost every social setting I had ever taken him to since he was old enough to walk. I'm willing to bet that it was nearly 25 or 30 minutes before I panicked enough to ask for help.
I finally panicked.
They helped. We locked down the City Museum. I finally found him in the one place I thought I would, even though they guaranteed me he wouldn't be there.
There he was, outside, probably 40 feet in the air inside an airplane, perfectly safe and happy in every possible way.
"Rye WHERE have YOU been?"
I wasn't a bad parent that day. I did absolutely everything right. I could second guess it all day, it doesn't matter.
He was safe. He was happy. A gorilla didn't eat him. A gorilla didn't die. But I lost him all the same.
I've had it with folks who judge other parents when in reality they have no idea what people are going through.
I was at the City Museum, eight years ago, with a five-year-old boy and a toddler on my hip.
Yes. My boy happens to have autism but it doesn't really relate to this story in any way. Yes he wanders because of his autism but it has nothing to do with why I took my eyes off him for two seconds.
I wasn't trying to ruin anybody's day, I wasn't trying to take on too much, I wasn't being a bad parent. I had a day off from work and was trying to take two sweet boys to do something fun.
Maybe Gorilla mom was doing the same. Maybe she is a bad mom and has a lot of problems. I don't care. It really doesn't matter. I do feel bad for that gorilla. Clearly lots of folks do, but I just wish anybody who's judging that would take 30 seconds to think about it.
Close your eyes.
Try to envision that day at the zoo. Let's say, just for kicks, you are in the same situation and holding the gun.
You see the gorilla. He's holding a child.
The gorilla looks up. Grabs the child and you see the child's face.
It's YOUR kid.
(Sorry to go all Matthew McConahay in Time to Kill on you, but seriously.)
I don't own a gun. I hate guns. But we both know what I would do.
Maybe we should be talking about and judging the people who wouldn't do the same? Or maybe we should stop supporting zoo experiences and leave the animal kingdom alone. I don't really care either way.
I do know that Gorilla is gone. Lessons have been learned. That mother will probably question her decision-making as a mother for the rest of her life. That makes me very sad.
Nobody's opinion on this matter will change the outcome in any way.
I also wonder how many opinions would change had the child died?
I'm glad he's safe. I'm glad he was small enough not to remember. I hope his parents never tell him the story.
Can we all please stop talking about it and go back to fighting the fights that matter?
Parenting is hard and to be quite honest we all suck at it!