A Humbling Experience

photoLast Friday Jamie and I visited Cooper’s new school. During the first portion we met as usual, in a tiny room, with Cooper’s psychologist and the Intake Coordinator. It went well. We talked about goals and expectations. Every kiddo that starts at Fraser begins with the same goals. They range from eye contact to stopping and when asked and playing with toys.

My two concerns with Cooper starting school are:

  • I need to know that they are going to challenge him. When Cooper is even the tiniest bit challenged he MELTS down in epic proportions. I know that if he goes to a public school he WILL NOT be challenged. They don’t have the time or resources. This school specializes in Autism and I want them to challenge him or otherwise we are going to get nowhere.
  • My other concern is that Cooper will not be loved. When he gets upset he wants hugs. When you get in front of his face and ask him to say something he usually tries to kiss you. It’s kinda his thing. And it’s adorable. I came right out and asked the lady if they give hugs here and she said absolutely. Cooper is extremely emotional lately. They need to get that.

I felt really great during this meeting.

They are the experts. And I no longer need to be. I almost felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Cooper lasted an hour during this part. Not bad. Towards the end he was throwing and getting a little rowdy. In a way it was nice though…they got to see the real Cooper. I would say about 5% of me was hopeful that they would be like…”oh no! This isn’t autism. You don’t need to be here.”

No go though.

The second part was a tour of the classrooms. Jamie and Cooper went to the car to wait while I went with the intake coordinator.

We went through locked doors into a long hallway. The first thing I noticed was how dim the lighting was. Then I noticed that everything was white or grey. Absolutely zero color. And then I saw a bunch of adorable kids. The coordinator showed me Cooper’s room through two way glass. I stared. The only thing on the wall was a PECS board specific for each child.

It didn’t look fun at all. It looked sad. And dark. And I started to freak the F out. What were we doing here? Cooper is fun. He loves music and color and books.

And then a little boy started crawling by me. He was probably 4 or so. He could walk he just chose to crawl. His aide was crawling right along side of him. The coordinator told me how each child had their own personal aide with them the whole time.

I kept watching. Every few seconds the aide would say the words, “Ready, Set…” and the little boy would say ‘GO!’ They were moving slowly and I just stared. Gawked more like it. For a long time. I had a million thoughts.

Boy that kid is messed up. This place is sad. Why are we here? I don’t want to be here? I don’t like it here? We don’t belong here. Cooper doesn’t belong here. But that little boy can say GO. Cooper can’t say GO. Cooper can’t say anything. And I started crying. I sorta hid it…but I’m pretty sure it was obvious.

I looked around for the closest exit. I wanted out of this place. And then another boy melted down and ran down the hallway and pushed another kid.

And it hit me. We are here because we need to be here. Cooper is no better than these kids. They all are on the spectrum. They all need help. And they all have parents that are just like me. Terrified.

What a humbling experience.

I wish I was sending Cooper to a typical preschool. I want to take him school shopping and have him understand what we are doing. That ship has sailed though.

So. He starts October 6th. We are going to bring him ‘to and from’ the first week and then start transportation the second week. I can’t wrap my brain around putting my nonverbal baby on a bus. Nope. Not yet. But I also can’t keep up at this pace. I need to trust the system. This place is one of the best in the nation. I need to have faith.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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When my son was first diagnosed with autism no one was talking about it. Autism was hidden. I vow to change that.
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