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The Bully & The Brat… And One Mama That Is Fighting Back.

As some know, my son has a lot of problems mentally and behaviorally (which stem from the mentally disabling aspects). And for YEARS he has been bullied. But only primarily by one particular boy.

Now another boy is in the mix. As is a girl as of late, and where this morning’s call to come down and intercede is rooted. Because my son completely shut down on his teacher and the student teacher (or whatever his area is).

So we got myself, the teacher, my son and the other person who was TRYING to handle things together and got the complete story. We (as in my son and I) talked about what he should have done (again), versus what he didn’t do. And what he wouldn’t let the adults do to rectify the situation.

Yes, my boy will be punished (at home) for how he mishandled all this and not cooperating with his authority figures, and for not coming to the phone to talk to me as requested, resulting in my having to go down there.

But the girl is also in trouble for starting crap and calling my kid names and making fun of him.

Hell, I’m so classy and I’m so awesome, I have the balls to not be ashamed of leaving the room and crying in front of the teacher. Again. I’m just sick of this BS. Add in embarrassment and the fact that once more, I felt like I failed him, and it’s a mess of reasons behind why I broke down.

And people are wondering WHY our youth are offing themselves?

Gee! Let’s take a look at how them bully kids are being raised in a home of intolerance and no teaching of respecting those that are different from themselves in terms of disability (of ANY nature). It’s not just the teen and pre-teen GLBT group.

Then, opportunity knocked on my imaginary door… Have (one of the few of them) bullys in room, take a chance. That’s how good I am. I don’t have to talk TO you, for you to know I am referring to you.

Let’s hope my conversation with the brat being present sinks in. It was dealing with the one boy that has picked on my son for YEARS in this school. And now, they are BOTH going to the same Middle School next year.

I even made certain the little demon heard about MY OWN problems with being made fun of as a kid.

I KNOW he listened because if I turned to glance at him, he turned his eyes from me like he wasn’t paying attention. And he now knows I will NOT tolerate it, am utterly sick of it, and this is DAMAGING my child.

Believe me, bullying today is on an entirely different level than it was in my days as a kid with physical differences. I would NOT want to be a kid in today’s society.

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Judgment

Those of you that have a child with Special Needs knows exactly what I speak of.

It can be judgment from a stranger (most usual form). Or from a friend. Judgment can happen even with families.

Judgment is defined as… (via dictionaryreference.com)

noun

1.

an act or instance of judging.
2.

the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion: a man of sound judgment.
3.

the demonstration or exercise of such ability or capacity: The major was decorated for the judgment he showed under fire.
4.

the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, as from circumstances presented to the mind: Our judgment as to the cause of his failure must rest on the evidence.
5.

the opinion formed: He regretted his hasty judgment.
    The type of judgment that we are talking about today is within the definition of choice numbers ONE, and of FOUR.
    Although, the basis of judgment more often than not, is primarily upon choice number ONE.
    Because most “outsiders” will not know (even within the family circle) TRULY what life is like for our children, or for us as their parents and their caregivers.
    My son, even at almost eleven years old, is a “safety risk”. He has no “I better be certain it is safe” button. He has a “‘wow, that’s cool and I want to go to it’ button”. He can only see what he wants. Not what it takes to get it. Including safety. I worry every time he wants to walk to school (which is not even five minutes from my home). Mainly because the section of road we live on is high-traffic early in the morning. But I have to let him be independent. If I see him crossing the street in the wrong manner, then after school, when he gets home (via the bus), we have (yet another) talk about safety when crossing the street.
    I have had him walking with us in the mall, and he suddenly is far back behind, because something caught his eye and he ran off to check it out.
    Because of things like that, and because of an incident at a huge Theme Park, over in the water area, I for a good while used harnesses on my child. I never have had to do so with the two girls. But then again, they don’t have the problems that he does, and they are really good about listening, staying close and asking to check something out or to go somewhere.
     The times that I have used the harness, be it a wrist one, or one that straps around the chest and over the head, I have gotten “the look” of disgust and judgment. And I say, KEEP ON JUDGING! You have no idea about my child. You don’t know the dangers he can get in to. You have no clue as to how fast he can honestly be.
      To judge ANY parent, based solely on what you see, and nothing on what is known (which in most cases you don’t due to not knowing the people at all), to me is demeaning and rude. And it’s something that sadly, millions of us mothers and fathers must endure every single day. Because people just don’t understand. Some don’t WANT to understand. Some cannot begin to. Not until they sadly have a situation like I have had. And we aren’t talking about a grocery store or a neighbor’s house.
      My son ran off from us at a Theme Park that has a Water Park built in. We were in the section of the Water Park for the younger kids, playing laughing. Back then, my youngest was a baby. About eight months old at the time. In one moment, when both my husband and I turned for a brief second, he was gone. We called and called for him, only to find him nowhere. That’s when panic set in. Next thing I know, we have Park Security, ourselves and a couple of strangers helping us to look for my son.
       Thankfully, he was found (by Dad) not too far off, in the other section, waiting for the huge bucket to dump water on them (Dad took him there a bit before and played with him and had the bucket splash them). He wanted to go back to the bucket area, but told no one, and just took off. He just got it in his head that he wanted to go back, but forgot the step to get his wish. Instead, he (literally) ran with the thought and took off.
        Hence why the next year, we placed him in a strap harness. It helped us, and it kept him safe. Back then, if it were on the wrist, he surely would have been slick and removed it, only to jet off to God knows where. It was a safety tool. Not an abusive parenting tactic. Abuse would be to NOT do it, and let him run off to anywhere he felt led. With no worry of what COULD happen to him. That’s abusive.
         These days, we are no longer using the harnesses. But I tell you what… IF there EVER came a time to need one, you can safely bet that I WILL indeed use one on him. It’s better than him being kidnapped and have unimaginable speaks of horror possibly done to him. My child is TOO trusting and has no boundaries where his social interactions and self are concerned. So, he is an easy target. Personally, I refuse to take that chance. Even at his age.

At almost eleven years old, even a wrist harness may be embarrassing for him to wear, and for us to have to use it. We will I’m sure get nasty stares and a few finger points and snickers. But it’s worth it when I KNOW my son is safe.

Lessons From A Grocery Checkout Line

I have a friend, if not more-so an acquaintance. We both belong to and participate actively in a group on FaceBook that caters to parents of Special Needs children from around our general area of living. Some things, our kids share, but mostly don’t, in the terms of having diagnoses. In the end though, we love our kids with a passion, and are more widely accepting of children that “act out” and of their parents than most people in the general consensus of society.

Yesterday, this dear lady, who’s a mother of three, with two of them being Special Needs, told the group of a great story. Of courage. Of self-preservation. And of compassion.

My husband works for the Kroger Food & Drug grocery store. I had also been employed with them for a few years, up until my youngest, who is now seven years old was born. And his (now transferred) Grocery Manager, and he have a common bond.

They both have Special Needs kids. We only have our son, really. But the Grocery Manager has twin boys. And they are BOTH (severely) Autistic, and one is non-verbal. Both, like my son, have behavior issues, as well. ADHD, too. Both of our families have come under scrutiny out in the community. Mainly because of the aforementioned behavior issues. We have dealt with the stares, the head shakes, the whispers. And yes, even with the unwanted “advice”.

But what this one mother and her children went through, really speaks of all of us in one way or another. And of our children. When I grow up, I want to be JUST like her, I think.

Here, in HER own words (with names left out to protect her privacy, and that of her family), is a recount of what had transpired at her local Kroger store.

“We were in Krogers this evening checking out on a unplanned but unfortunately necessary grocery run, a disturbing event for all of my boys because of their sensory issues. My oldest son was turning over each of the boxes of chewing gum one by one so that the labels were all facing the same way. My 8 year old was clicking and rocking, and my 5 year old was pushing meltdown because of his discomfort being around so many people. My 17 month old daughter was beginning to overheat in the store, because the heater was turned up so high to overcome the cold outside. As I went to try to cool her off a bit by unzipping her jacket she began to fuss because she was becoming uncomfortable.

A woman in line in front of us who was already checking out said to the cashier “I hate it when mothers don’t take the initiative to discipline their children… Its so sad to see someone have so many kids.” The cashier knows our family, and looked at her in a bit of shock.

She said “The boys are autistic, and they’re pretty amazing kids.” The woman shook her head and started to say something under her breath about what a waste, and my 9 year old Aspie son turned sharply and snapped,….

“**I am not a disorder, I am a person.** Just because I appear not to be listening to you does not mean that I cannot hear what you say and do not understand it.”

She looked at me and said “Well, aren’t you going to say something to him?!” I looked at my son, I looked at the woman, and then I looked back to him. I was so proud, it was the first time that I’ve ever heard him speak up for himself, and he certainly doesn’t speak his mind or feelings often.

I paused and looked at him and said “You’re absolutely right bug… you’re an amazing kid.” And then I looked at her and shook my head, smiling. I said to her “Yes, its such a waste when people don’t try to understand what someone else might be going through.” She huffed, paid her bill, and then left the store.

The cashier smiled at me and said “He’s having a good day today, huh?” For everything these kids have been through this week, it wasn’t just a good day… it was freaking amazing.”

WOW! What an amazing testimony. And to me, not only did the mother and the son stand up for themselves, but they also stood up for ALL of us. Parents and afflicted kids alike! They said outright what so many of us want to say, but can’t. Maybe out of fear of retaliation. Maybe out of utter embarrassment of the situation (though not due to OUR actions/reactions). But they had the courage to do it. And I HIGHLY commend them for it.

So, for those of you reading this, and don’t really understand “our world”, please take note. Do not EVER judge a person or a situation solely by what you are seeing, or even hearing. If a child is doing something quirky (like moving/situating a space bar at the grocery checkout counter) but is in NO way harming you, then leave the person alone. If they are mumbling to themselves, don’t stand there and stare. When you think that someone cannot hear you, that’s when they can hear you the most. When our children are acting out, don’t just auto-assume that it’s a “bad seed” with parents that are just not willing to “parent” our child.

It’s people like you, that when you are THAT mean spirited to be as the lady in the checkout, that we hope, wish and pray that you too will end up having a child or a grandchild JUST like ours, to show you the ways of OUR life. Sometimes, lessons are learned the hard way.

Our children never asked to be the way that they are. For some, their minds are their own personal prisons or hells. They can be locked up inside. With barely being able to speak, think straight or communicate their needs and desires.

We as their parents and caregivers, struggle EVERY single day to make life as “normal” as we can for our children. Sure, we have to do SOME things differently with interaction and behavior management. But we take it on as a labor of love. Unconditional love. We see what you REFUSE to see.

So, the next time you see a child in the grocery store being “strange”, know that they CAN hear you. They DO see you. And they indeed HAVE feelings that can and DO get hurt because of oggling eyes and opened mouths, that seem to go right along with CLOSED minds. And us as parents WILL find you to be the DISABLED one.

NT Parents vs. SN Parents

I am a mother.

I am a mother to three children.

I am a mother to three kids, where one of them has “problems”.

I am a mother to three kids, where one of them has “problems”, but that I love all equally.

You say that there is NO way you could do what I do, put up with what I put up with, and defend what I have to defend.

You say we are a strong, but rare breed. But there are more parents like me than you most likely even know. Because we don’t look to be recognized or placed on a pedestal.

We do what we have to do, when we have to do it, as to ensure that our “special” kids are getting everything in life that they deserve.

That includes being as close to “normal” as we can get them. And to obtain the specialized services, that though are supposed to be rendered by Federally mandated Laws, are not always put in to place.

We rejoice at what most people take for granted. Especially when they are “late bloomers”. We cry from the frustration. Not just our own, but the frustrations that our children display.

We want what ALL (okay, MOST) parents want for their kids. A better and fulfilling life.

You and I aren’t THAT different in the world of Parenting. We, like our children, just do things a little bit different from the rest of you. And we see things (like first words, first steps and the other norms of growing up) a tad bit differently as well.

Other than that, I’m not much different from you. And yes, you CAN do what I do on a daily basis. Because when push comes to shove, when it comes to your child, you would do most ANYTHING and move every mountain and boulder to help your child achieve their very best potential.

Do I want to just throw my hands up and quit? YES! Sometimes, the fight to help your child achieve can really tire you emotionally and mentally. As can their daily struggles and fights of will. But in the end, no matter how much you want to just turn around and walk away, you CAN’T. You know for a fact that you have invested WAY too much time, energy, and most important, love in to helping your children succeed to the best of their ability.

So, the next time you think to yourself that you could “never do my job as a parent”, or think I must be a lot stronger than you, take a step back and think, and know that when it all comes down to that fine line in the sand, there is really no line at all.

Changes

On Tuesday, I had to work the Volunteer table at registration. After getting there, I registered the two kids that still will be attending (third is going to Middle School).

The School Nurse was seated in the Library and I was in the cafeteria. But this nurse was NOT the same nurse as from the previous school years. And knowing how busy she is, sometimes (due to health) she needs a sub nurse. Which is what I had thought of as I had seen the lady sitting at the desk.

Come to find out, that this woman IS the School Nurse, and is replacing the one that I have come to value as a friend, and whom my son was EXTREMELY attached to.

As I am sitting in my spot at Registration, another friend comes up, who’s child is going to Second grade, and is a Title 1 Reading Aide to say hi. We haven’t talked all summer. Well, then SHE to drops a bombshell. She is leaving at the end of the month to work in a Dentist’s office, in the same building as her twin sister.

Needless to say, telling B was no picnic. And he wasn’t all too happy. But also, where the School Nurse is concerned, I can ALREADY see it coming. That is, unless his Homeroom Teacher (and my oldest’s former teacher, and she also taught my husband in third grade, many moons ago) catches on to the tricks first and thwarts his idea.

B can be highly manipulative. And if you don’t know his subtle ways, his mannerisms and his voice changes, he can EASILY pull a fast one on you. And it usually happens when he doesn’t want to do something, trying to get out of classwork or a test or is in an environment he doesn’t care to be in at the moment.

The former school’s nurse knew ALL of his tricks. She knew when she needed to call me. She knew when she just needed to shoo him off back to class. She even knew when he HONESTLY did not get his Vyvanse that particular morning, and instead of calling, knowing B NEVER, EVER lies about it, just would give him his pill and then send him on his merry little way.

This year, I can see A LOT of phone calls from the nurse in my future. Then again, knowing the teacher, she will be able to catch him in his little cat/mouse game and thwart his ruse. Because she is just that covered and smothered in Awesome Sauce!.. I at least hope.

Schoolward Bound. Fifth Grade, Here He Comes!!

This past week we are about to leave, and the one that is coming upon us has been and will be fairly busy. It’s back to school time. And I think that ALL of us are ready. For the most part, anyways.

This week was filled with filling out paperwork, taking in paperwork to be filled out by Medical Professionals, a doctor appointment and school supply shopping.

Geez! Just thinking of what I just listed, I’m tired all over again! *hehe* (=

This coming week, it’s REGISTRATION time! And this means now, TWO different schools for three different kids. My oldest is moving on to Middle School.

B is in fifth grade this year. And thankfully, I was able to place him in with my oldest’s former homeroom teacher, who is the ONLY one of the three in their grade to be Special Education certified.

It also helps that she taught my HUSBAND when he was a kid at another school, for the third grade. And she started LAST school year to acclimate him by saying good morning to him, giving him his “morning hug” (their classrooms were next to one another at the time between the two grades). And she already has gotten an idea of what his needs will be with classroom placement and what will possibly work best to get the best ability out of his potential.

She runs a pretty tight ship. You do as expected, she is your BFF. You decide to make her life hell and not do as instructed, then your ass is grass. And he needs that kind of firm structure. And she is already on to his manipulations. BONUS!

Do I worry? Yep! But not as much as I have with the teachers of the past in regards to B. This lady is one of the best in her field. And one of the most patient and kind. But also one of the most strict and not able to be bamboozled, too.

I’ll more so worry NEXT year, then I will THIS year. Because there is a VERY good chance that B and his older sister will NOT be in the same Middle School, being she was accepted in to a school across town that takes those that are highly advanced/gifted. If she is able to remain there next school year (2012-2013), then he will be in our Zone School for Middle School all on his own.

Yes, he too is advanced in most areas of study. But he doesn’t have the work ethic and focus for a Gifted Program. Thanks to his emotional instability, lack of maturity, and his severe ADHD it takes him out of the running for advancement such as what his sister is in. And it hurts me. But at the same time, I can safely say that a setting such as that is clearly not for him.

Should I compare? No. But it is extremely hard to NOT see the difference versus the similarities.

You sometimes, I feel, HAVE TO compare the “odd one out” to the others because it forces you to see just how different the one with the problems truly is from most of society. It makes you step back and think a little more and be more compassionate, understanding and willing to have more patience. Not just with YOUR child with Silent Disabilities, but other children (and adults) with the same afflictions as well.

So, here is to (hopefully) smooth sailing for this school year. In just over a week, and then all three are off on another school-year adventure of learning and fun. But this year, it will be minus their big sister. And I think they will do just fine.

Case Manager Mismanagement

Yesterday, I had to drag my family out in to the unseasonably hot Summer heat to take B to his yearly check up. All went well, though he cried like Hoover Dam when he got two shots in his bony arm.

Then, it was off to brunch at a Biscutville in the area where the doctor is (next town over from us)being that only one of us five ate any breakfast. No, it wasn’t the boy, the mom, the dad or even the big sister. You got it. Littlest one was smart enough to eat BEFORE we were to leave.

Then, it was off to Child and Family Services, where B has his Case Management and his Psychiatric appointments. I stopped in to drop off the Medication Dispersal sheet for school, being he has to have backup of Vyvanse there, just in case. And while there, I was able to meet up with the CM to sign the needed papers for the next six months to a year (depending on the information).

At one point, she got to talking to B about his not eating and how even skinnier he looks from the last time she had seen him (about a month ago).

This is where the trouble began. And where my “Mama Bear” came out, claws ready.

At one point of the “eating” conversation, I”stepped in” and noted that now, I am seeing troubling signs of his (non)eating habits starting to spill over to his LITTLE sister. She is EXTREMELY picky, just like him. She “bird pecks” most of her meals, just like him. And she is not willing to try foods, just like him.

Needless to say, I got the “you shouldn’t compare B to S, and you need to concentrate on B. And I am ONLY going to concentrate on B”…Excuse me? PART OF YOUR JOB is to oversee the needs of the FAMILY, not JUST the client him/herself. And I have LEGITIMATE concerns that ultimately affect my ENTIRE family.

Mind you, I was signing papers that she was LATE getting to the proper areas, but was “hunting” me down to get them signed. Some were back from APRIL. The others were CURRENT paperwork. I even back-dated the older ones (to save her from getting in to trouble).

If what she said about one of my kids being more important over the other was said BEFORE I started placing my “John Hancock”, I would have dated the OLD forms for YESTERDAYS date, just to be a bitch.

And I have seriously considered contacting B’s former CM who is now HER boss and ask if what she said was correct and/or acceptable. I addressed concerns for BOTH “her client” and for HIS little sister. It wasn’t until I said anything, that HE finally got it and is now seeing how HIS habits are affecting others in the home.