Restraint

In the weeks since our conversation with Maggie’s teachers, we’ve been visited by a home support person and will meet with one again. Today we’re meeting with the speech therapists at the local children’s center. The wheels are in motion.

There was an event I didn’t mention because at the time I was still too stunned to talk about it. Maggie, captivated by the Olympics, expressed an interest in the events. Despite my hesitation, I signed her up for an introductory toddler gymnastics class anyway. This was after our meeting with the teachers and in the process of scheduling an observation at school.

In short, the class was a disaster. Without boring you with details, my view from the parent waiting area brought everything into razor-sharp focus. We knew from meeting with her teachers that something was off, but the class snowballed out of control. It wasn’t just regular toddler overstimulation; it was beyond her comprehension and ability to process what was going on. We were asked, kindly, to withhold registering her for a full class. It was shocking to behold, and the question that had been building inside of us finally clanged to the forefront, ugly and blunt: “How? How did we miss this? How could we not see?”

She’s fine. She has no idea that the class went, from a safety perspective, went poorly. I was and am still a mess. Maggie is my baby, my heart, and right now my heart is walking around with a big raw “?” over it. Aside from a lovely email conversation with my friends K & G, I had to stop talking about it with people; if I knew how I would close comments on this post. People are just…well. They’re people. They mean well, I suppose, but good intentions aren’t enough to keep stunning insensitivity from hurting.

And then I read this today:

“A Terrifying Way to Discipline Children”

Oh. My. God.

Someone needs to take the internet away from me, or I’m going to build a protective bubble around my house and never let Maggie out. I don’t think I realized the vulnerability of her position until now. How could she tell me if something was wrong without couching in her scripted code? She couldn’t. I physically became ill reading this.

We’re getting help for her. This is going to be okay. I would not choose to “cure” her if she does have a diagnosable condition, save to help her learn to verbally communicate as clearly and effectively as possible. We want to help her enough to be able to advocate for herself and be independent; in that respect, she’s well on her way.

But oh, I need the world to show a little restraint for us right now. Just…please. Don’t send me articles like this. Don’t make jokes about the condition to cheer me up or tell me, like you know my child better than I do, that she’s just a quiet late bloomer. Please.

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4 thoughts on “Restraint

  1. Wow. I read the NYT link. I cannot imagine this happening to my child – it terrifies me to think of sending her to public school next year. One thing I know for certain: if this happened to my child, I would HUNT DOWN the adults responsible for the abuse. Hugs to your family!

  2. That article makes me cringe. It makes me physically ill, too, that crap like that happens. Can I share a positive public elementary story with you that won’t fix what you read but might give you hope that good does exist? The elementary school in which I worked as a cross-categorical special education teacher in Wisconsin was big on sensory integration in the classroom and providing extra sensory breaks for students who needed it. I ran twice a day sensory breaks for students. We had a small room devoted to various apparatuses that helped them grown, not lock them up in it while they decay. These were the same kids describe in that horrid article but we chose to give them what they needed to feel safe and comfortable in school, not lock them away or hold them down. Stuff like that makes me so angry when, clearly, supporting students that are not in the norm isn’t that difficult.

    Maggie is an incredibly lucky girl to have you and Tom as her parents. Love her, protect her, and mama bear her all you need. And know that YOU are supported as well.

    • Nicole, it’s teachers like you, my aunt, and several friends from my younger days who have become teachers that restore my hope for the system. 🙂 There is a galaxy of difference between that article and the positive sensory support you’ve described.

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