The information she passed along was vague: some parents had shared (not to us) that their children were scared by Jack – that he might hurt them. This was a surprise. I had seen Jack lightly push kids at school and struggle not to hit when angry, but we do not see our son as a violent, out-of-control kid. I figured I could see this one of two ways: either the parents (and/or kids) were overreacting, or Jack was so stressed out at school that he was acting uncharacteristically violent. Neither scenario was pleasant. I truly do not want any kid to feel scared by my son. But since the preschool is a coop, I (wrongly) assumed that any issues would be handled in an open way. To be blindsided by parents preferring to complain anonymously, rather than directly addressing issues that we could work on, felt unfair. To compound things, we also learned (for the first time) that the director had been keeping a record of all Jack's infractions in a notebook. Ick.
Our hearts were heavy but we decided to remove Jack from this preschool. I respect and enjoy many of the parents there, but our constant battles with Jack's program director and then this recent news made us feel it was time to find a place where the staff and parents understand (or are willing to learn about) the challenges of Asperger's.
For the summer, Jack will be home with me and his aide C will be providing home intervention. My goal is to lighten Jack's stress load while providing opportunities for social interactions in a controlled setting. Several families asked for play dates and that'll be great. We're also signed up for a language-based social group at our wonderful speech provider. I hope to keep him busy physically with hiking, biking, and playground visits. We'll do loads of fine motor activities and have the freedom to go and do what we want most of the time.
For autumn, we're mildly panicked about finding a preschool. Some possibilities are percolating, but we don't have anything firmed up.
I am grateful to those parents who have shown generosity, kindness, and love to Jack and us. I wonder about those parents who lacked the courage to share their negative feelings about Jack face to face. It's my opinion that those parents are teaching their children to avoid conflict, to undermine relationships, and to fear and avoid others who are different.
In the words of Liane Holliday Willey, an adult woman with Asperger's: “I do not wish for a cure to Asperger's Syndrome. What I wish is for a cure for the common ill that pervades too many lives; the ill that makes people compare themselves to a normal that is measured in terms of perfect and absolute standards, most of which are impossible for anyone to reach.”
(photos: Jack's first day of school on September 4, 2008, and two from his last day)