Friday 9 March 2012

Head and Heart

Alex’s school has been having difficulty with him for some time now.  It’s not for lack of trying or lack of willingness.  They’ve been wonderful and willing to deal with a lot of stuff, more than I honestly think they should have had to.

A slot has come up in a specialized program and they’ve recommended that Alex take it.  Intellectually, I know it’s the right thing to do.  He can’t stay where he is and any chance of improvement is better than the no chance he’s got right now.

Heart-wise, it’s a little more difficult.  Alex is seven, almost eight.  Most of his peers are beginning to discover themselves as independent individuals.  They’re exploring their worlds and seeing their horizons expand.  Sometimes it seems as if Alex’s horizons are collapsing around him.  It’s a hard thing to see.

The program looks good.  There’s some one on one teaching and each of the children has an individualized program.  We’ll have to see how Alex adapts.

I think that’s one of the harder things about having a child with special needs.  Sometimes you end up with a conflict between what you would like your child to have and what your child actually needs.  It’s easy to get caught up in some kind of rosy idealized vision and forget that your child will have a very different experience.

One family I know left their autistic child behind when they went to Disneyworld for the weekend.  Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?  To deprive a child of a trip to the happiest place on earth.  But this child is highly ritualistic, has strong reactions to crowds and noise and has a low tolerance for new places.  To him, Disneyland would have been a forty-eight hour nightmare.  They could have tried to force him into submitting to their idea of what a family vacation should be.  But instead they were compassionate and looked at it from his point of view.

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