A few years ago, I got a chance to talk with one of the other moms in my son’s second grade class. Her daughter had been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.
As a result of her challenges – namely, always being overwhelmed by noise, activity, you name it – she had a great deal of difficulty concentrating, and acted out at times. Multiple meltdowns, odd behavior, and so forth.
But I’m not writing today about the daugher, or about a disorder I’m not all that familiar with.
I wanted to share what the mother went through, because it so closely resembles what we, the parents of children with Asperger’s Syndrome, can experience. Or what any parent of a special needs child can live through, for that matter.
This lady told me horror stories of people shunning her. Because, naturally, if the child wasn’t perfect, it was her fault. She’d been hissed at, argued with, confronted and then threatened in public places about her daughter’s ‘misbehavior.’ Being ignored, she said, was almost a blessing.
I was floored. She was petite and beautiful – usually a sore spot with me, because I’m not – and I’d always assumed her stand-offish attitude came from this. But no. She lived in fear of the other parents, their reactions, and of her daughter noticing – because we all know one day they do notice these things – how she was being treated.
Never again will I ever blame the parents. People generally do the best they can with what they have, whether it be finances, time, ability or knowledge.
Once, and only for a few weeks, did I go through a time of being shunned. It was incredibly painful. One doesn’t even realize what a casual glance or hello means until everyone turns away when you approach. But never did I go through what this woman had.
By the way, last I heard from the family, the daughter in question had been held back a year and was doing very well. The mom looked like a totally different person, relaxed, happy, and at peace with herself and the world. She was actually laughing and completely delighted to tell me of her daughter’s current success.
And if anyone out there deserves some success, they do. They’ve earned it.