Somehow we maintain hope that putting our child with hidden disabilities in school equates to getting a break. In our exhaustion, we look forward to late August/early September while at the same time grieving the inequities and social rejections we anticipate await our child there. The illusion of a break doesn’t last long. I think my daughter’s school had my cell phone number on speed dial!
One semester my daughter started a new science class, and I braced myself for the barrage of calls as she had never taken a class from this instructor previously. After a week of silence, I was convinced my daughter was hiding out in the bathroom! Finally, I dropped into the classroom after school to chat, and her teacher had plenty to say. My daughter was brilliant, engaged, and quite knowledgeable, a delight. “Of course, sometimes she...” I discovered this teacher’s son was also on the spectrum. She could see my daughter for her wonderful self, while handling beautifully her troubling behaviors.
Of course, more often the calls increased in frequency like a speed train barreling towards a hairpin turn ahead on the tracks as the fall progressed. The illusion of a “break” vanished like vapor, as I found myself rescuing, advocating, trying to figure out “what really happened”, and holding my child accountable for both behaviors and expectations placed upon her. A helpful strategy during Autumn was to change my own expectations of what a break looked like.
There is more than one way to take a break. When I’m preparing my yard to endure the prolonged Colorado winter, raking leaves and clearing raised beds, my muscles tire. I don’t sit to rest, rather, I switch jobs employing a different muscle group. Raking turns to sitting and weeding, or bagging. The variety allows me to continue progressing towards my goal, giving parts of my body a rest while using other parts, all the while continuing to work.
Perhaps you had hoped starting the school year would provide some relief from the endless battles. In a way, it has, because you get to use a different skill set now than when your child was home all summer, interacting with siblings, and avoiding chores like the plague. Presently you are listening, negotiating, brainstorming for success, dreaming up clever ways to enforce accountability, and advocating. The weight of the imponderables is being spread across a greater audience, which lessons the likelihood of any given collaborator collapsing.
Recognizing the reality that your child is still challenged in this different environment and requires your near constant “re-thinking” of strategies to address those challenges can shift the blunt force of the brutal calls you receive from school into a forward thrust that ensures progress.
Over time, you will indeed see the headway that allows your baby to weather the winter in time.