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special education

Dear Special Ed. Teacher

Dear Special Education Teacher,

First, know that I appreciate you very much. I respect your strength and patience. I respect your commitment. I could not do your job, so I appreciate that you can do it, and that you want to do it.

But please, no matter how horrible my child is, DO NOT CALL ME TO VENT ABOUT HIM. Call your therapist. Use your professional support system. Use YOUR resources.

My son is 14, and he was diagnosed with a developmental disability when he was 12. His diagnosis was a result of a complete breakdown due to unrealistic expectations from society, family, and especially from his schools. Do you realize how many teachers and school staff come into contact with a child by the time he's 12 years old? Do you realize how many people have complained to me about my child, how many criticized my parenting, how many blamed me for his behavioral problems before, during and even after his diagnosis process?

Believe me, there were a lot of them. So many I've lost count of them, and of the emotional scars their condemnation left on me and on my son.

Also believe me that I know how challenging my son can sometimes be. I've been hit. I've been screamed at. I've been threatened. I've been called names. For every rough day my son has had in your classroom, he and I both have already survived the dozens if not hundreds that have passed.

So, let me share something really important with you:

When I stopped focusing on controlling his badness and started trying to figure out what makes him tick, both our lives changed for the better. Even though he couldn't tell when he was headed for a meltdown, I started identifying the triggers and signs and talking to him about them. He's a thinker. He's introspective. He absorbed the information and started tracking his own reactions. I learned when to back off, and found out that my son, once he has had time to sort things out, will come back to me and will hold himself accountable for his bad behavior.

What I'm saying is that instead of calling me to vent, you should try talking to my son. If you learn what makes him tick, you might just find that he's not that hard to work with after all.

And when you do need to call me to "get on the same page" (which I expect will happen given my son's particular issues) have a proactive attitude. Obviously something isn't working, and it may be something you're doing. If you want to be on the same page, you're going to have to be willing to consider you've been on the wrong one.

And one last thing:

Don't ever expect that by complaining about my son I will be shamed into doing things your way.

the day of judgment is upon us

I've had so much to write about lately, but a great deal of fear over committing it to writing and sharing it publicly, mostly because my life, and the lives of my children, have been upended and shaken during the last few months and saying anything during the court-ordered family evaluation seemed unwise at best. I was also in the process of getting myself assessed for an autistic spectrum disorder. I am one of those individuals that falls into the part of the spectrum called Asperger's Syndrome. as it turns out, my son is one, too. more on that another day; back to the subject at hand...

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