Emotions when your child with special needs goes to school

When LJ was a baby (he STILL is my baby) it was easy to overlook his special needs.  It was hard to tell how much his hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (brain damage) would affect  him. 

Even as he got older, since he was our first, it wasn’t difficult for us to turn a blind eye.  We simply avoided others with children similar to his age.  I stopped reading baby milestone books and removed myself from milestone websites.  I created a faux shelter for us.

Today, I dropped off some things at LJ’s school and sat in for an hour, just to observe.  I had to leave as I realized I was getting upset.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s in great hands.  I am confident, despite my pushy-mom attitude, in the teacher, paras, and therapists.

As I choked back tears on the drive home, I tried to figure out why I was so upset.  I went home and had a good cry, but I still couldn’t quite articulate why I was crying.

And then it hit me.  This was a scene I have been avoiding LJ’s entire life.  In the beginning, I had an excuse because he didn’t like crowd.  But now that he doesn’t mind so much, I realize it’s just me. 

I don’t mind that he’s different.  I was never part of the “in” crowd.   But I know how hard life is going to be for him.  I know he is going to have to struggle everyday.  I worry that he won’t have any friends (although he does have one in his class).  I worry that I’m not pushing him hard enough.  That maybe, if we do that hardest work now, it will be easier later. 

Today, during story time, they brought LJ to the circle in his stander.  He was a part of the group.  Yet, a part of me was thinking, why?  He has no interest in stories.  Couldn’t they be working on something more relevant to him at the same time?  But then I thought, well, I really like how they’re including him.  I was torn.

I’m really glad I don’t have to make those decisions every day.

It comforts me to know that the staff loves him.  That they see him and not just his disabilities.  That he has a cute little friend in a walker that adores him. 

But it really sunk in today.  I’ve known for a long time now that I would have to fight for LJ to have the best.  I would have to put a lot of work into finding out what works for him and to make sure he is getting the care he deserves (I’m not just talking school here).  I’ve known, watching him in therapy, with the other kids around, that life for him would be a struggle.  That life in general wouldn’t be easy.

Seeing it, though, made it hit home with me.  Seeing him, alongside his “typical” peers, really showed how different he is. 

It’s not that I feel sorry for him.  It’s not that I hate his disabilities or wish he was “normal”.  It just hurts.  It hurts to know that nothing will be easy for him.  It hurts to know that he’ll probably be excluded from many things because he just won’t be able to do it.  But it really, really hurts to know that one day, he might understand that he doesn’t get to do certain things because his body won’t let him.  Or that he might be excluded because he’s different.

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3 Responses

  1. I wish I could be there to give you a hug Christy. LJ is very lucky to have you as his Mommy.

  2. Aw, don’t get so down! As he grows, he will find ways to enjoy the things he wants to do but may not be able to. With a positive attitude and look-out on life, he will feel great and make many friends! 🙂 Personality says a lot.
    Coffee sometime chica! We must!

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