Sending special needs children back to school is always both a joy and a terror.
Many parents worry about whether or not their child will be able to keep up with the schoolwork or if they will make friends. I worry about whether my child will be bullied because he’s different, if he will continue to learn or backpedal because of the change in routine, and how many times I will be called to the school during the first few weeks as he re-adjusts to the new schedule.
Last year, my autistic son started kindergarten. He has a mainstream homeroom teacher, but he was almost never in the classroom, and never unattended. He requires an escort at all times and it hasn’t escaped the notice of other students, though bullying has not yet become an issue. I used to walk him to class every day, until that became disruptive because he didn’t want me to leave.
Despite all the speedbumps on his educational journey, watching him blossom under the tutelage of the special education teachers was one of the most amazing feelings of my life. Every bad day was worth the few that would come along where my son was perfectly happy and excited over some achievement he’d made. Every moment of hardship is forgotten, if only for a while, when he reaches a new milestone. There is a pure, simple joy in watching my son learn something new. His excitement is untainted by the everyday worries of the world because there is no room for that on his wavelength and his happiness is contagious.
So many people never stop to think of how difficult even the simple things are for a child with special needs. How much they just want to fit in and play with the other kids. How much it hurts them when they can’t. But parents of those children see it. We suffer as we watch our beloved little ones struggle and fail to be “normal”.