I had a new one happen today…the nurse at Little Man’s school called (that’s not the new part – I have his the nurse at our old elementary school on speed dial to this day). Seems he’d gone to her office, a bit shaky. It was mid-morning, with two hours to go until lunch time. Considering he’s an 11 year old boy, growing, and in that fun pre-puberty stage, she was fairly sure he was hungry and had a drop in blood sugar level. Someone was dispatched to the kitchen to get him some watermelon and oranges, both of which he refused, and then asked to go back to class without eating a thing. I wasn’t surprised at him not eating what was offered. We are dealing with a typical – is there such a thing? – ASD kid. His food choices are minimal at best. Lately, when suggestions are given at the point of meltdown or just before meltdown, he’s refusing everything.
Maybe it would be easier to homeschool. Then it wouldn’t take a team of eight or so people to get him through the day. Then I wouldn’t have to walk around with my cell phone in my hand, waiting for the phone call. Then I wouldn’t have to feel my heart jump into my throat every time my email notification pings during the school day. Then I wouldn’t have to see his face every morning as I drop him off, gearing up for the day ahead, nor see his crumpling face when I pick him up in the afternoon, after yet another bad day full of stress, anxiety, tears, meltdowns, fears that his classmates will reject him for his differences. Then I wouldn’t have to wrack my brain trying to figure out what will work in any given situation at school. Then I wouldn’t have to send a comfort box to school, full of graph paper, noise-cancelling headphones, tangle therapy, and a small stuffed animal. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about what other kids think of him, nor how they might be treating him. Then I wouldn’t have to make sure they have plans how to manage him during assemblies, when there’s a substitute, or schedule changes. Then I wouldn’t have to sit through IEP meetings talking about all the help my beautiful boy needs. Then I would know how he was at any given moment of any given day.
Here’s why I won’t homeschool him no matter how hard this is….it would be the worst thing ever, for both of us. Yes, this is stressful and full of anxiety. But it’s also awesome. He has amazing people in his life he wouldn’t know but for going to traditional school. He has so many people who care about him and spend hours each day helping him become the best young man he can be. He has teachers, principals, and staff who know so much more than I, who encourage that side of him I’d have no clue how to manage. He’s learning to manage in a world that maybe isn’t designed for him, but one he must be able to function in at some level the rest of his life. He has friends we would never have met as he isn’t in any outside activities, mostly for safety reasons at this age/level. On top of all that, he’s somewhat codependent upon me. And, being the primary caregiver, I likely obsess over helping him and getting him through each day. We both need the break from each other. I don’t have it in me to teach him. Am I horrible for saying that? Am I selfish? Maybe. I just consider it being honest about my abilities and his needs.
Maybe it would be easier. But it isn’t right for him, nor is it right for me. So we battle on, knowing the good days are out there, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and one day, when he’s a successful adult on his own terms, we will look back on this knowing we made the right choices for all of us.