Honey Badger has been very quiet of late, as we have had some serious health, personal and school related issues crop up over the past month or so. I wont go into the personal or health related stuff, but because of the tragedy in Newton, I will get into the school related things.
I don’t talk much about my son and his struggles here on this blog. I try to find levity and irreverence and post it here, and sometimes the things he does create that levity. My son is Autistic Spectrum. I blew my stack when media began reporting that the shooter (I WILL NOT mention his name) was ASD or had Aspergers. Autism, ASD, Aspergers, etc DO NOT cause this type of behavior. My son does not have a malicious bone in his body, but I cannot help but worry now that since he is in an integrated (inclusion) classroom, that kids like him will become stigmatized because of this maniac. I will say it again, AUTISM, ASD, ASPERGERS, etc DO NOT CAUSE THIS TYPE OF BEHAVIOR.
Now, another reason why I am talking about this. We have had ongoing incidents at school where my son has been put into bad situations during bathroom time. The school he attends used to be a High School, so there are no bathrooms in the classrooms like you would see in a typical elementary school. Students go to a shared bathroom down the hall from their classrooms. In October, my son came to me and told me that there were “kids he didn’t know” misbehaving, pushing and shoving each other, pushing and shoving him, and then according to him, “they yelled at me when I told them to stop because I was going to slip on the wet floor and then they started splashing water on me”. Teachers in neighboring classrooms have had to come out of their class to break up the activity, as it was loud enough to be heard.
I contacted the teachers and told them about it and they assured me that my son was innocent in the whole event (or should I say events – he mentioned multiple times/days) and that they didn’t realize that each teacher was releasing kids at the same time, so there were 12+ kids (ages 5,6, and 7) in there, free to fool around.
I was reassured that a new system was in place and all would be fine. On Election Day, we had our Parent/Teacher conference, and we asked if anything else happened, and all was fine. We were also told about how great our son is doing, how he is getting along with the other kids, the other kids really like him, etc
Fast forward a week or so later. My son comes home and does the “A,B,C,D and E” were splashing water at me in the bathroom again. Here we go again. We start questioning him and discover that not only were they doing this, “the watched me when I was peeing and wouldn’t let me shut the door”. He knew the splashing was inappropriate behavior, but didn’t know the other wasn’t until we told him….needless to say he became upset. This was a Friday and I wrote a note to send in on Monday. I told the teachers I want Jack to go to the nurse during bathroom time from now on, and reinforced it was not their fault, because there is no way to have supervision in the bathroom due to staffing, which has now become a gigantic issue in my/our book. The teachers were not in on that Monday, but I received a call from the aid in the room and was told the teachers will be back the following day and my son will use the nurse’s office. He came home, and forgot at one point to go to the nurse, and it happened again.
We call a meeting with the teachers, the principal and the school psychologist. I will not get into the specifics of the meeting, but will just say that there was an emphasis on how my son “perceived” what happened, versus what “actually happened”. We said “OK, but if there was an adult present, this would be a moot point because you would KNOW what was happening”. Subsequently, our son would come home to us and say “so and so pushed me today, or hit me today, or did xyz to me today (the kids from the bathroom incident). Interesting how everything was fine a month ago. We are now in contact with his teacher every day and she lets us know what happens during the day, and apparently, our son is having “extreme” reactions to things such as “HE PUSHED ME” where as it was just a “bumped into” or “HE YELLED AT ME” and it was not a kid yelling at him, it was just a kid yelling. Add to this he is making up stories at home which are being contradicted by staff in the classroom. Anyway, my husband and I believe our son 100% and know this is a bullying issue and a lack of supervision issue and now that every eye is on interactions our son has and is having, it will be seen. We have discussed with the school psych that our sons “stimming” behavior at home (behaviors that are irregular, but are self soothing and relaxing for him so we let him do it) has increased 10 fold over since the bathroom incident and bullying. The reasoning we are being given is that “it’s the increased stressors of first grade work load, scheduling, demand, etc.” We will go with that and the “its our son’s interpretation”…..until they see it…..then we will have our glorified “I told you so”….
Anyway, the Sandy Hook tragedy has me sick. As a teacher, I have done lock down drills and the coat closet was my place of choice. That could have been me. I now have a 1st grader. That could have been him. Then the pit in my stomach reached an all time low. My child could have been in the unsupervised bathroom if this were his school. Before locking their doors, teachers looked in the hall and grabbed kids in the hallway. What about my son? If my son being violated because of lack of supervision is not spurring action to warrant a course of action to not allow 5,6 and 7 year olds to be unsupervised, THIS event has to.
I have been stigmatized within my school as “a trouble maker” and “complainer” because I have rocked the boat about things that made me say “hey! What is up with this? What if X,Y,Z happens?” I have been pegged as over reactive, and heck, basically a bitch. It has really taken a toll on me, REALLY taken a toll on me. But you know what? It was unfortunately MY kid who had a bad experience in the bathroom, “even after 8 years of having the bathroom unsupervised”. On the flip side, it was MY kid’s experience that illustrated the issue I have been adamant about, and unfortunately, it took 20 innocent lives to prove the point. It took those 20 innocent lives for me to not look like an idiot and my speaking up to be brushed off. It took those 20 innocent lives for me to pull me out of the drudgery of my life I have been experiencing because I think differently than everyone else, react to things differently than everyone else, and see the world differently than everyone else.
I had to deactivate my FB account because I just couldn’t take it anymore. People trying to defend gun rights in this and still not seeing how this could have been me as a teacher, me as your child’s teacher, me as a mother, you as a parent, etc. But again “Im over reactive, Im a complainer, Im narrow minded, etc”. No one will probably see this as I usually cross post on FB, but at least it is out there. We need to have these discussions NOW. Discussions starting with gun control, and then discussions about identifying mental issues, treating mental issues and providing support to loved ones for mental issues, and then discussing Autism and ASD so that my son and others like him will not be stigmatized because of one person’s actions.