I haven't posted much since October 10th because in between homeschooling and my usual job of family CEO, I have been attending repeated meetings that never seem to have an agenda (not one we've been privy to, anyway), assembling resources for educators, and trying desperately to keep myself and my family from having a collective break down from the stress of it all.
Bug had his first day back at school Friday, 37 days after we were told to remove him from school because of his vocal tics. It's been a long time away and he was anxious and reluctant to return. However, he rose above his fears and misgivings and went to school. After returning his supplies to his cubby, it was a quick goodbye and he was off to begin his day.
I stopped by during after-lunch recess, as I had promised him. When I drove up, was playing dodge ball with the boys in the class and didn't acknowledge my arrival. I took this as a good sign that he wasn't anxiously waiting for me. They were picking teams when I got to the playground. I noticed that Bug was one of the first kids chosen for his team. To think that a year ago he was ostracized on this same playground by some of the same children...what a testament to their abilities, Bug's and his peers. He has come so far socially in this environment. I think many parents of children with Asperger's would have paid a million dollars to see their children interacting so seamlessly with their peers. He looked like just another kid in the class. That's the up side of invisible disabilities; sometimes you don't even notice them. After watching for a bit and chatting with a couple of his teachers about his morning, I left to do my work. (A full week without a working dryer was getting old.)
When I picked the kids up after school, Bug was excited to tell me how 'good' his classmates had been all day and that he had tried twice to thank them (at circle time before lunch and at the end of the day), but was not permitted to do so. It was heartbreaking to know that his peers did not get to hear his appreciation. They were the bright spot in his day. It was also heartbreaking to hear that a class of 4th and 5th graders was better at dealing with his disabilities than the adults. The kids got it right. Two days after watching the fabulous DVD "I Have Tourette's, But Tourette's Doesn't Have Me," the children were able to master the art of ignoring Bug's vocal tics. They didn't ask him to stop, quit it, be quieter, or stare at him. Much like every other routine distraction, they took it in stride and accepted it as part of their day. I wish more of the adults had done the same. Instead, Bug spent his day under the microscope of adult observation. An already stressful day was amped up by the presence of administrators, specialists and inexcusable ignorance.
There's a reason why we have anti-discrimination laws in this country. Diversity makes our world more interesting, helps us grow, understand, develop empathy, challenge our preconceived ideas of ability, open our world views and generally just make life worth living. Diversity is the crowbar that pries our heads out of our butts and enables us to see the light. The process of having your head extricated from your ass can be a bit uncomfortable, but the fresh air and sunshine make it worthwhile.