Owen wandered away outside of church today. One minute he was outside with his dad, but when Greg came inside Owen wasn't behind him. I ran outside and saw Owen ready to cross the street with a complete stranger. Simply terrifying. The ironic thing is that, just last night, I applied for a full time job- my first in nine years- in my field. I figured that it was time, that Noah and Owen were doing very well, and I could return to the classroom as more than a day to day substitute teacher. Sigh. Now I'm not so sure. Today was like a punch, reminding me that I cannot let down my guard. Owen is doing so well in so many ways, but this sort of thing has happened four times in the past two years. That may not sound like a lot, but I just keep thinking that if very small variables had been different, I could have lost my son any one of those times.
It's hard...but I'm avoiding some negative people who have been important to me for years. In the back of my mind, there's always been an awareness that some of my friends would drift away once our children (theirs neuro-typical, mine not) developed at different rates, despite being the same age. One friend recently made fun of someone she knows, also on the spectrum, and blissfully prattled on about how she wouldn't socialize with him because he consistently did things that were textbook behaviors for people with autism. I don't know what hurt more. That she would cruelly ridicule someone who was, in fact, trying to be social and kind to her, or that she had the gall to say to me, as a preface to the story, "Make sure your boys don't do this." So, even though I am sure that I will feel the loss of that one friendship for a long time, I will distance myself. There's no where to go from here for us. So, you see? Sometimes an act of lagniappe can be getting rid of a little something extra that is cluttering up your life!
Too often, people think "special" means less. What they need to understand is that special needs children are CHILDREN. They are cute, funny, intelligent, curious, just like every child. They are also sensitive and can be hurt. A non-verbal child can still understand and a child who doesn't make eye contact can still see how you look at him. I had the opportunity to watch an intern at one of my son's therapy centers recently. My son had just finished his session, but he was having a hard time unlocking a gate. The intern simply stood there and did not interact with him at all. I walked over and said, "Let me give you a free lesson, okay? Don't treat children like they're invisible." So, please, help when you can, encourage always, and never underestimate any child.