Like I do every morning, I dropped off Jax at school today. They have it down. You enter from the north, pull around to the back doors, school staff meet you at your car, “Bye, Have a Rockstar Day, Love you,” and off you drive out the west entrance. The whole thing is a few minutes tops.
Today, we waited. In front of me was a nice German car (because autism doesn’t discriminate) and a father leaning into the backseat. It was clear after a few minutes that this kid wasn’t going anywhere. A male teacher came out to help, and together, they got the visibly uncooperative student out of the car and headed to the school doors. This was a big kid. He probably wasn’t more than ten years old, but he was the size of an adult.
About halfway there, the student turned to run. The teacher held him, but with the struggle, they ended up on the ground. Another male staff member came right out, and between the two of them, the kiddo got to his feet and walked inside. You could tell these teachers had done this before, weren’t rattled at all, and just chalked it up to another day at school. To an objective observer, this was a perfect demonstration of “what to do with a struggling ASD student.” Textbook.
But I wasn’t an objective observer. I was sitting in my car with my 8 year old son and I felt like I was watching the future unfold. If the kid in front of me hadn’t been at school, hadn’t been in a safe place where everyone understands autism, he would have appeared dangerous. People would have been scared.
This, my friends, is the fear. This is the constant pressure, the race against time that hangs out on my shoulders every second of every day. Jax’s progress is an upward graph, for sure. Eye contact and conversational skills and short-term memory are all on the rise. These are great things.
But we’re not touching his inability to regulate his emotions. We aren’t even close.
The truth? My kid – my cute, sweet, singing, dancing, truck-loving kid who is the first person to run up and hug you if you’re sad or hurt – hits, kicks, swears like a sailor, runs away and fights like a tornado when he’s frustrated or angry. I’m not talking play fighting, you guys. It’s not for show.
Right now, you just pick him up and deposit him elsewhere while he calms down, but this stops being an option a few pounds from now. I need to reach my kid. I need to find a solution or, at the very least, a band-aid for his anxiety and I need to do it yesterday. I’m in a race against time and I am losing.
Dad walked back to his car and looked back at the line of parents waiting to drop off their children. I waved. I don’t know if he saw me and it doesn’t matter because I waved for me, not for him. “It’s ok. It’s all good. Here in this line, we get it. God, do we get it.” I waved to show him that I wasn’t scared of his son.
Because if this is us in a year or two, I’m really going to need someone to wave.
(Published on Scary Mommy)