My Special Needs Son

To The Reader’s Forum:

My son on the autism spectrum is learning. Learning that having a developmental disability is code for “invisible” disability, and the world is not going to help with, see or even believe his challenges. He is learning that working harder than everyone else to fight impulses and conform to expectations of neurotypical (non-autistic) behavior is not good enough. When he fails, he will be asked not to participate. Already so isolated from his peers – he will be set aside – too much trouble to deal with. Not autistic enough to receive extra help in the classroom, too autistic to call someone a best friend. “He’s normal, we can handle him,” they reassure a worried parent. “Three strikes and you’re out,” they chastise a hopeful child. At school the books teach him to be tolerant and patient. People, on the other hand, teach him that he doesn’t belong. Tolerance and patience are gifts given to people who don’t cause problems. How I wish the world were kinder to my special needs son.

Unfortunately, my son is one in a growing number of children on the spectrum. Faced with issues like these everyday, our schools need to make sure these kids are learning. Learning they are perfect just the way they are and that they are accepted.

Kerri Atkins