This has taken me a month to write down, and even now I don’t know if I want to be here. There are two people screaming in my head. There’s a beast of a mother that is waving matches and screeching curses and wanting to take everyone down with me. Then there’s this other girl. The one that, to be honest, embarrasses me a bit, but for the sake of honesty I’ll talk about
her too. She’s scared and she wants to hide and pretend everything away. She’s desperate for this thing gnawing inside of her to stop taking so much. She’s sad, and she scared and I don’t know how to make it better for either of them.
One month ago I got a call from my son’s school. I was told that allegations had been made that he’d been hurt. By his teacher.
When you get a call like this it creates a chasm. There was you before, and now here you are after. There are words that chip away at this new broken void. Words like allegations and hearing that the boy you put in someone’s arms today is now sitting in a nurses office being checked for abrasions.
Because the allegation was that he’d been pulled up by his arm, and dropped. That he’d been yelled at and had ran to his safe place. That he’d hid under a desk and been dragged out.
These will forever be marks on my soul. People say that, but if you were to cut me open you would see them clear as day. This I know. This I will take with me always. Despite what those close to me have said and have reassured me with, I am his mother. I was the one who dressed my autistic child and told him the magic of school and I took him to a place where he was
mistreated. Where he was scared. Where he had to hide.
When we first arrived to the school there were deputies, there was HR and there was DCF. And there was my son eating his lunch excited to see his parents. Because that’s the thing about my boy. He loves and he trusts and everyone is a potential friend. And grudges aren’t things to be kept. Immediately we were asked if we wanted to press charges. At this point I only knew there had been allegations of something. What? Where was his teacher? What had happened? I’d had a good relationship with the teacher. I had received texts about my son’s good days. We were preparing for his Pre-K graduation. He had earned that celebration. This was when I was taken aside by a deputy and told that according to statements made by the person who witnessed the act and brought it to the attention of the assistant principal this was not the first instance.
This was not the first instance.
This was not the first.
This was not.
This was when I fell apart in a stranger’s office. This is when I gave birth to the beast inside me and she wailed. I swelled with tears and rage and I wanted to grab my child and run as far as I could take us. I wanted to ask him, this baby child of mine, this one I carried and birthed and whose tiny hand I had held in a NICU, and this boy who had charmed my entire heart and taught me his hyper language of love, repetition and laughter, and I wanted to ask him what had been done to him.
But he can’t tell me. My child is not nonverbal, but his language is firmly rooted in his Echolalia. It’s repetition, and it’s phrases he’s cemented because he’s come to learn what happens when he says them. But there is no reciprocal conversation. There is only the patterns of speech that have become our language. “Hey, bud! Did you have a good day?” “Good day!” “Did
you have fun at school?” “Fun at school!”
He trusts and he smiles and every day I picked up a happy boy. And I believed in this step we’d taken. We sang songs and I cheered him on and lavished him with the praise that was filling me. He was a warrior, this boy who’d never been outside my home, who was a foreigner in this world of social cues and rules, and he was learning the customs as best he could. But there I sat in someone’s blurry office being told by a police officer that according to the statement, the teacher had gotten other children to hit and kick my child when he’d misbehaved.
I crumpled into myself. My tears were hot, clogged in my chest. I wanted to rage, I wanted to set fires, I feared I was not enough. I would fail my son. I already had. When you bring a child into the world and the child grows and enters the world beyond your cave of diapers and first steps you fear things like bullies. But it’s never supposed to be the teacher. The person you gave your stupid, worthless trust to. This is any parent’s fear, but for the parent of a child with autism? When you can’t ask and hear it from their own voice? It doesn’t break you. It shatters. You cease being one person and become another. When we hand our children over we do it with a shaky faith, but when you hand over your special needs child that faith is forced to be a blind one.
Please, take care of him. Please, teach him. Please, be patient.
We pressed charges. It’s been given to the state’s attorney, so now we wait. We’ve contacted local news media, and we’ve offered statements and given the first police report, but we’ve yet to get any attention for the story. I check daily. The girl in me wants to hide, push it away. The beast wants to yell and scream until her throat breaks. I’ve done what I thought was right,
but life threw another curve ball at me as a mother. Another situation where there was no book to consult.
So I’m here, finding the words, to tell my son’s story to the best of my ability. To do as right by him as I can. Because what happened to him was unforgivably wrong, and should not fade into silence. Maybe it’s not news enough for some, but for those of us wearing these shoes, it should be told, and it should be known. I am his mother, and for now I will be his voice. The words may come out shaky, through hot, angry tears, but I will tell the story of a boy who was hurt, in a place and by a person that should never have raised a hand to him. His name is Phoenix Elijah and he is this beast’s firstborn son and he is made of magic and songs and he rains fire from the sky.
And he did not break.
* The above post was submitted for publication via email by one of our readers.
This teacher should be stripped of her right to teach everywhere!
IMO, special needs education can't be successful if a district only treats the child. Parents carry a heavy burden and need support AND education as well, as is evident by this email. More to come.
Thanks for the comment. I just wanted to point out that Carl writes in the Carl Cricket section and this post was made by KSIB who received the original post in a direct email. Our believe is that the person who emailed it to us could not, or did not know they could post it themselves in the Your Voice section.
if that makes me insensitive to some, it is what it is. but look, having dealt with special needs folk(and i am a strong advocate for the cause) i have observed that the caregivers (parents, teachers, etc) face extreme challenges and need our support.
so, this mother needs help - for her own emotional/psychological issues. even she would agree. i would bet that she has done to her child way worse than the teacher she is accusing. and yes, teacher needs training and support so that she may continue her good work.
Better late then never I suppose...
There is good to come out of the KSIB, if only they weren't so Republican about it.
The story is a little embellished hear but the mother was telling it to the news.