So we’re homeschooling over here. It’s going really well, I’d say. We have great people, Jax’s anxiety is at an all-time low, he’s happy, he’s inquisitive, and importantly, he’s learning things that are relevant to his 14 year-old-life and skills he’ll use for his future. Yay homeschool.
The one weak spot is that he needs more social interaction during the day. He needs “school” friends.
I think that a typical afterschool program might be a great option for Jax and I contacted a really big one. I said, “Hey Heyyyyyy! I have this great kiddo and we’d love to join your program. A few developmental delays over here, he’s younger than his chronological age suggests, but don’t you worry, my son comes with an aide. Yay us!”
I hit send and waited for it.
“Thanks so much. And no.”
Ok, I’m paraphrasing. Obviously. But the answer was no. No aides, no we can’t put him with the kids two years younger, just no. And the perfunctory last line, “please let me know if you are still interested.” If you are still interested considering I just made it impossible for your child to join.
I mean, sigh. Listen, I’ve got this. I don’t need to call on my fellow members of the Special Needs Mom Army. I know what to do, I know it will get resolved, I know someone at a higher pay grade will ultimately reply to the rote email I just sent about autism and intellectual impairment and disability accommodations with an “Oh, eeek, sorry, clearly we misunderstood.”
How do I know? Because I have done this one hundred million times for Jax.
Let’s sigh again, shall we? SIGH.
A few years ago, I would have been all hold my beer, y’all, but look, I’m tired. I’ve been at this for many years now and the fight has turned to “yep, knew that was coming.” I’m just going to write this little blog and do what I need to do for my kid.
But you know what would be nice? It would be nice – so, so freaking nice – if just one person on just one occasion said, “You know, that’s not our normal procedure, but tell me more about your son so we can try to include him.”
Can you even imagine? The Special Needs Mom Army is laughing because that’s fantasy world right there, people. I’ll get an email like that the same day I get my acceptance letter into Hogwarts.
My son is met with no. All the kids with disabilities who are more than just a little bit “quirky” are met with no. The knee-jerk reaction by any sort of anything that is not specifically geared for special needs kids is always no – before I even have a chance to explain the village of resources I bring to make it safe and successful and, frankly, a learning opportunity for everyone in room.
Here’s my request, people of the internet. If you’re in the position of replying to emails like mine, can you pause before you send? Can you put aside the “this is how we do it so no, no, no” for a minute and remember that there is a kid on the other end? In my case, a kid who just wants to make the same stupid popsicle birdhouses the other kids are making.
I’ll handle this. But my God, it would be nice to not have to.
* * *Rebecca Masterson is a writer, speaker, and an advocate for children. For more from Rebecca, follow her on Instagram.