‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ 

An autism story by ‘Heather’

My first-born child is autistic, but it took many years to learn this.  I didn’t know he was different until he was four years old.  Now, at the age of twelve, life is just so hard for him – not that it has ever been great for him.  The other kids are so mean to him.

In February, he tried to kill himself.  We now have a team of really helpful people, which is great.  But school is still a big problem.  He just got punished for hitting a kid who was hitting hurting someone.  My son thought he was doing the right thing; he thought he was saving the kid who was getting hurt.  It’s something he has wished so many times for himself when harm was being done to him.

The Vice Principal has given him two days of out-of-school suspension.  I’m not saying my son was right in what he did – but he does not understand why he is being treated this way when the kid he hit did not get in trouble for hitting the person my son thought he was helping.  Now, because of this, he cannot go on the school field trip to Gillett Stadium, and I can never afford to get him there myself.  I am very upset with his school and the way they have taken care of this matter.

A Note from the Editor:

I am very sorry to hear about this.  Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common occurrence.  Children are forever being misunderstood by their schools, even in this day and age.  My son was suspended just as yours has been, but when he was only five, and it was purely because of his anger outbursts as a result of what they now think is either autism or ADHD, combined with OCD / anxiety.  I can’t tell you how hard I had to fight to get everyone involved to understand that our son is not a bad or naughty child, and that he doesn’t even know what he’s doing when he has those fits.  We have been trying to get support for him for three years.

READ MORE  Asperger's and Mania - A Worried Mother's Story

I also personally recall how hard it was for me in school due to my own diagnoses (which were not, in fact, diagnosed until adulthood, so I had no defensive ammunition against the way I was sometimes treated).  All I can say is: thank you for sharing your story, because the only way anything will ever change is if we keep bringing these things to the public’s attention, and work toward educating people about the challenges our children face.

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  1. April says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Heather and same to the editor as I have had numerous struggles similar to those expressed in your writings. The only differences are that I am still trying to get doctors to finish RE-Evaluation appts for autism and/or additional nero/psychological issues that continue with one of my 12 yr old twin boys. He has multiple conditions however they have been reluctant to (in their words) Label him and have also refused to do ANY sort of brain imaging or scans despite many clear indicators that if it isn’t autism with co conditions then there is something going on with his brain due to circumstances that would warrant brain damage. Anyway this is a continuing struggle and the teachers and kids have nearly destroyed my sons spirit. I am now homeschooling him and hoping for the best.

  2. Vrinda Pendred says:

    Thank you for sharing, as well, April! The thing is: I understand about not wanting to label children. We haven’t told our son about any potential diagnosis. We’ve simply told him that all people find different things difficult or easy and there are LOTS of other kids out there who find the same things difficult that he does, just as there are lots of kids who can’t do the things he finds easy – and for the things he finds harder, we can find ways to make them easier for him. No labels necessary. BUT…I think you probably need those labels for the school, for the teachers. Because sadly, while some teachers are amazing and treat all children as individuals with their unique strengths and challenges, many others brand your child as ‘difficult’ or ‘naughty’ unless you hand them a medically sealed piece of paper giving an explanation for why your child has those challenges.

    So I don’t believe in labeling our kids…but I do think when you are faced with that sort of teacher, the doctors need to consider that and give those labels, where relevant, even if you never choose to share them with your child until he’s old enough to handle it. Some day, when our son is old enough, we will tell him he probably has ADHD, but we are going to say that it’s only a fancy label for the things he’s found difficult growing up and it doesn’t change anything about who he is; he can use it to explain to people who demand such explanations, but he shouldn’t think it reflects on anything about him as a human being, because he is still the great person he always has been.

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