Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Growing with Sam

It is devastating to any parent to discover that their child isn't "normal."  And by "normal" I mean meeting all the milestones when they are supposed to "normal."  Admitting your child is anything but perfect and seeking help is only the first hard step to take.  After that, life is challenging every single day to give your child everything they need and lots of attention to help them grow and develop in every way they can.  When they are small, it's hard... potty training, speech skills, and motor skills all come a little slowly for children with special needs.  Behavioral problems are always tough because there is a lot of frustration on both sides trying to understand the other and to be understood.  Every day is long...

And then they reach kindergarten age, and life gains a whole new level of trials.

The kids that used to play with Sam are ready to go to school and Sam missed the deadline (thank goodness) and still has another year of special preschool.  But "normal" kids that are kindergarten age have now discovered that Sam isn't as chatty as the rest of them.  That he doesn't do what they tell him to do, and goes and does whatever HE wants to do.  Sam is also a lot smaller than the other kids his age... which sadly makes him prime for the picking... to be bullied.

I know I have mentioned bullying before.  I hate it!  I don't think it is funny.  I don't think it is okay.  And if a child is bullying my Sam and I see it, I WILL say something.  It's one thing to pick on kids their own age, size, and mental level,  but to pick on and bully a "special needs" child is lower than low.

Last night Ben took the kids out to play on the playground outside our back door so I could clean the house.  He came in a little later, fuming, seeing-red angry!  I don't think I have ever, EVER seen Ben so mad!  Apparently, Sam had been the object of name calling... he was the "stupid boy" on the playground.

I cried.

I hurt for my little Sam like only a mother can hurt for her son.

I thought about it all night.  Ran scenarios through my head.  What should I do?  Do I talk to the parents? Do I sit back and wait for "next time" and then confront it then?  Do I keep my boys in the house when other kids are out?  I really didn't want to cause problems.  I like everyone to be happy and friendly... and this was not a happy and friendly subject.  My heart was troubled!  And I hate that!

This morning when I woke up, I decided to write this post.  Not bashing on the kids or their parents, I am just not that way.  But writing a plea.  For those of you out there who have a child who is "special needs" or even just bullied because they are different, know what I am saying here:  Parents, please, please, PLEASE teach your children that some kids are born with different kinds of struggles and trials in life.  That because of health and other issues all children don't talk the same, they don't walk the same, and they don't look the same.  But that does not mean they are stupid.  NEVER stupid.

I ache for my little Sam and his struggles every single day.  Not only is he picked on where there are other kids, but when it comes to adults he is ignored.  There are lots of people out there who don't know how to interact with kids.  Oh, you know what I mean.... the kissing couple on the picnic blanket at the park that quickly packs up and runs away when they see you coming with 5 kids...  Or maybe you have a friendly kid like I do and loves to say "hi" to everyone we see.  They only say it back and acknowledge him maybe 40% of the time and that's pushing it.  Then enter in the equation that he is speech and language impaired and that adds a whole new dimension of how grown adults deal with him.  Basically, he is ignored... a lot.  Good thing he has a loving family, right?

Now, I didn't write this post to bash or put down anyone.  I'm not challenging anyone's parenting skills, because heaven knows I have a lot to learn myself!  I just want to raise a little awareness out there.  There are literally millions of children like my Sammy in one way or another.  And I admit that I used to be one of those adults who didn't know how to deal with children with special needs.  BUT I always loved them, and I showed it in any way I knew how.  I guess you could say that Sam changed me.  I grew with Sam.

Adults out there, don't sell these special children short.  Give them a chance and you will be amazed at what they know and what they can do!!  Sammy is a brilliant little guy!  You should see him on the computer, doing a puzzle or calculating math -- it's amazing!

Please, just love them... special kids like my Sam, and the rest comes easy.

And teach your children to love them too.



Andrea said...

I agree, Catherine, I physically and emotionally ache when I see (or hear of) people being mean to my kids-especially my special needs child! I truly hate it when kids pick on my son and bullying is totally unacceptable. It's almost worse, though, when adults are rude to him. My son understands when I tell him some kids just don't understand him and haven't been taught very well how to behave, but he just doesn't understand adults who can be so rude and inconsiderate. It really drives me nuts and I want to just scream in their faces sometimes-but, I don't. I also like to keep things happy and calm and I don't like confrontation-but, I will stand up for my children and if I'm there, the bullying and rudeness will be stopped!!! Thanks for writing this post, I think people need to be reminded. I think you and Sam (and your entire family) are great and I'm glad I know you. I can see Sam is brilliant!

Maranda said...

I agree. Bullying and picking on others is horrible. I don't know who decided it was okay to behave that way. Children need to be taught to have compassion for others and it's our jobs as parents to teach them those things. I'm so sorry Sam had a rough day. It is really good that he has the support of such a wonderful family!

Jill said...

You and I have talked a lot about this already. And you know about my son's autism. It has been very difficult to hear someone call him dummy or say "you can't play with us." It breaks my heart. He is starting kindergarten this fall and I think the anxiety is about to eat me inside out. I have educated my older daughter (so that when she is around during those situations you mentioned) that she can help. It is actually really tricky to explain my son's needs without making it sound like he isn't stupid. Which he isn't. He is super smart. But it takes a bit to see that and help others to as well. Thanks for your post. It is just as important for other families to teach their children about kids like ours as it is for us to teach our non-special-needs children to be kind not only to their siblings but others out there that may have other issues.

Ruth said...

I feel for you and for Sam. My Meghan will be going off to Kindergarten and it frightens me to no end. I have no idea what will come of her going to a bigger classroom with less adults to supervise/love the kids. She is smart as a whip, but lacks the ability to really play with other kids. She has gotten better, but she does not like loud noises/spaces. I pray for her daily, as I do for other kids who struggle. As for what to do, I never say things to the parents, because I do not see it ending well. Once in a while, I will say something to other kids, when my kids are out playing. But not often.

Carrie and Karl said...

I agree with this entire post. My oldest son in on the Autism Spectrum, and it can be really hard. I have struggled constantly to make sure he gets the same opportunities everyone else gets, and I love it when I see others work for him too. It is great when I can get other moms to teach their kids how accept everyone.
Good luck!

Amy said...

Bullying sucks. I feel bad for the kids who get bullied... and for the bullies themselves. I have to wonder what causes the bullying? Why does one child feel the need to pick on another child? What validation are they looking for? or what attention (even if only negative) are they getting or not getting at home. It is just sad to see children hurting others. Period.

Evan Black said...

I hope I'm not being insensitive by asking what- if anything- Sam has been diagnosed with? My differentiated instruction class talked about needs or disorders potential students may be dealing with, and your son's behavior looks like some of the stuff we talked about.