It seemed so cool to you to say these things to him in front of your friends. They all laughed.
Yesterday, you asked a group of children to pummel him with balls during recess. They all joined in while my son tried to laugh it off. Yes, you are on a sports team and my son is one of the kids who studies his video games. He is weak physically compared to you because while you were learning how to toss a ball in your backyard, my son was learning how to speak. You see Bully, my son was born with autism. Speech, coordination, social skills, and processing everyday things didn’t come easily for him. He went to speech therapy two times a week. He worked in occupational therapy to learn how to eat and chew his food without vomiting. You were eating all kinds of foods never realizing how much work someone else did to learn to use a fork and spoon. He spent three months with casts on his feet because his sensory processing issues caused him to walk on his toes and get tight heel cords. Therapists became his friends because they were who he spent most of his time with. You were out playing on the playground while my son was sitting on the bench, not knowing the words to say to get other children to play with him. You were climbing on the monkey bars while my son was conquering his fear of stepping onto the first rung. His body has trouble processing all of the laughter you and your friends were making. It sounded painful to him, Bully. He tried and tried to be like you and when he finally came close and opened up, you said hurtful words to him. He didn’t expect that. He expected kindness yet got cruelty. You looked at him as being weaker than you…….
BUT Bully, I know the truth. I know how hard my son worked to be “typical” like you. I know how many dollars were spent on therapy, equipment, weighted blankets, visual aids. I sat with him as he learned what emotions are. He watched countless videos on how to make friends. He practiced over and over and over again with anyone who we could find to play with him….there weren’t many…..He worked to learn to carry on a conversation with you. He fought through his fear of sounds, sights, and feelings to get into this school with you. You have NO IDEA what he’s been through. What his father, sister, brother, and I have been through. It has not been an easy road.
What you don’t yet see Bully, is that autism is beautiful. My son is beautiful. He has qualities that will propel him into wonderful things in his life. He is bright, sensitive, kind, generous, and a good friend. He is good at lots of cool things that most kids don’t think about. His life is a blessing to all of us. Every baby step he takes is celebrated in our home. We see him for the unique person he is.
Bully, you think you’re on top now. I wish you would open your eyes to see differences in everyone. I wish no harm on you, Bully because someday you may have a child with special needs. You may have to fight and advocate for your baby like I did- and only then will you truly understand. I can only pray that your child does not meet a bully like you.
By- Cara Koscinki MOT, OTR/L
Author of The Pocket Occupational Therapist– a handbook for caregivers of children with special needs. Questions and answers most frequently asked to OTs with easy to understand answers and fun activities you can do with your child. Order anywhere books are sold. www.pocketot.com