I posted a picture the other day….
We have an appointment on Wednesday to go and talk with someone at the School Board about this most recent incident with Jeremy.
I haven’t overshared about this situation for a number of reasons.
- I’m utterly exhausted and traumatized by it all.
- It requires immense energy to barely hold together a sweet boy who has been traumatized by it all.
- I alternate between anger, apathy and anguish on an hourly basis.
- It’s almost surreal to me except that it altogether , too real.
- This is a culmination of years of educationally based trauma for Jeremy and us.
My brain keeps hurling words, thoughts and feelings at me and this is my attempt to capture some of those words and make sense of them all so that we can share consisely on Wednesday.
At the very Center of all of this is Jeremy.
My sweet boy. He struggles immensely as a young boy and that was the one thing that he ALWAYS had going for him. He was SO sweet and charming. Couldn’t focus if his life depended on it. Couldn’t read or write. Couldn’t decode social situations…..but he was absolutely darling. That was probably his biggest saving grace.
For all of his struggles, Jeremy has been desperate to connect…..desperate for relationship. He hasn’t been very good at it and when he was finally diagnosed at 13 years old, during his second attempt at an assessment, with Autism…..so many things made sense.
I find it interesting and so very incredibly frustrating that the older he gets, the less patience, support and care, people seem willing to offer. It’s like they expect him to have “gotten” it (whatever “it” is) and are more likely to judge that he’s just not trying hard enough.
Let’s break it down extremely succinctly:
On a daily basis, with NO RELIEF, Jeremy deals with:
- Social/emotional deficits (Autism)
- Severe Executive Function disorder (ADHD)
- Faulty sensory perception (sensory processing disorder)
- Constant worry and stress (Anxiety)
- A huge discrepancy between his academic abilities and his output (Learning Disabilities)
That’s a HUGE load to be carrying…..and he’s been carrying it for 16 years. Its an incredible testament to his resiliency that he keeps trying every day. That he gets up and in spite of his worries, in spite of inaccurate and hurtful judgments, in spite of constant internal and external pressures…he gets dressed, packs his bag, says “bye mom, I love you!” and heads off to school.
On an aside, Jeremy has been looking for a job. He’s handed out a lot of resumes, but between a “special needs label” and a service dog….his job hunt hasn’t been very successful. We’ve heard SO many positive comments about how Polite and Courteous he is. How he is SO respectful and seems incredibly keen to work…..but nothing has translated to actual employment.
This past week, in the middle of this chaos, Jeremy got a job. He got a job because someone gave him an opportunity to show them what he is capable of. The feedback we got, was that he is probably the hardest working person they’ve had.
THAT……….THAT is who my son is. He IS hardworking. He IS responsible. He IS respectful. He is DESPERATE to please and to succeed. He WANTS to do his best……not just for you, but because working hard, being respectful, and doing your best are characteristics that we have consistently and tirelessly impressed upon him as critically important to his very being.
Down to his very soul, to the core of who he is…….Jeremy is desperate for connection….for relationship.
If you were to ask me what he wants most in this world…I would say that relationship trumps everything.
If you were to ask me what he struggles the most with….I would also say relationships.
This is where his disability comes into play…..
Would you get angry or frustrated if a person who was missing a limb couldn’t climb a ladder as fast or as nimbly as someone with complete functioning limbs?
Would you be short tempered with someone who had a cleft palate or was in a wheelchair?
Now I realize that every disability has people who are cruel/uncaring and judgmental…..but that’s not what I’m referencing here.
How about someone who is blind…….but you didn’t realize they were blind? You may be frustrated that they weren’t as fast and nimble at everything but as soon as you realize they are “differently abled”……more often than not, we have an “AHA!” moment and our compassion increases.
How often do we see a child having a temper tantrum in a public place and judge?
Or is our first thought, “oh I wonder what’s stressed that sweet little one to their breaking point?”
How often do we hear that a child in our child’s classroom “freaked out” and they had to clear the room; and judge that that kid is spoiled and gets away with too much?
Or is our first thought, “what perfect storm of physical/mental or emotional triggers overwhelmed him till all of his energy and ability to “hold himself together” was depleted?
Do we judge the behaviours or see the behaviours as communication?
It doesn’t matter who you read, Stuart Shanker, Ross Greene, Gordon Neufeld, Gabor Mate, Brene Brown or countless others……..CONNECTION is CRITICAL!
We crave connection and acceptance on a very deep level. Disconnection and rejection have a HUGE impact on humankind. Without connection, we are more easily succumbed to addiction, depression, self harm, etc. It’s hard to find the strength to carry on when we are alone. But when we know that we have the love and acceptance of those who care for us……..amazing things happen. We can shine and grow. We can reach and exceed our expected potential.
How many inspirational stories do you hear and read about where “someone believed in me so I believed in myself and accomplished great things? What’s at the core of those stories????? Connection. We are hard wired for connection.
Will you look for moments to connect, this week? Especially with someone who is struggling to connect. Reframe “behaviours” from “a terrible child” to a struggling child and ask Why they are feeling and acting this way and what is instigating the behaviours.
To see our children as struggling and not as defiant or problematic is the start of an incredible journey towards connection that will benefit you and I and the world..