Autism Watch: 2007

Enlightenment

Posted on: October 27, 2008

It’s been one of those weeks — actually, a ten-day span of one crappy incident on top of another, interspersed with fun things and relaxing moments…followed by another crappy incident. Today, it was going outside to pick up ds from school to find that something (someone?) had 100% shattered my driver’s door window, rendering it undriveable. Here I sit, a birthday dinner to attend in two hours, waiting on an auto glass repairman. Ka-ching. Ka-ching. But what’s another $210, right? (It’s got after-market tinting, so of course it costs more. Sigh.)

Anyway, I had one of those autism conversations last week, one where you wonder later if you should have just shut your mouth rather than actually share your opinion and help someone else see the other side. The kind where you wonder why you should have to be the one to cave dare we lest ‘offend’ someone, when in reality, I was really hoping to share something that no one may have shared before.

I’ll back up.

We attended a Halloween party on Saturday. Family-style, with kids running all over. As usual, it was a blast. Lots of activities for the kids, and accommodations for my little guy so he didn’t have any (as many?) meltdowns. While sitting with some other parents, a woman married to teacher was telling me about vaccinations. I (mistakenly? stupidly?) shared that my friend had just experienced a vaccine reaction in her child, quite a severe one. Pretty banal comment actually, as we’d been talking about kids needing help in school. Well, the ‘teacher in the family’ light went on, before I even had a chance to realize it. Apparently this woman’s husband doesn’t believe in the GFCF diet, doesn’t believe in anything biomedical or anything, basically, outside of school- or doctor-provided therapies. Okay, fine, sad, because I have seen it work firsthand, but you don’t have a child on the spectrum, so it’s understandable she’d have no experience because she’s not living it daily. But, here’s where the enlightenment comes in. Turns out, her husband was outright angry at parents who do believe the diet because he doesn’t believe in it, and instead believes that the improvements in the child must be from the work the teacher does; in return, when a parent claims that their child is improving, it somehow takes away from the work the teacher is doing.

Thankfully, the games started so we were interrupted. I had no intention of getting into a heated discussion, so it was a welcome interruption. For me, it was enlightening — I had no idea before why teachers didn’t want to cooperate with the diet. I’d always thought it was the extra work involved. It never crossed my mind it was something as petty as resentment. Aren’t personal feelings supposed to be removed from the equation when it comes to teaching children? I mean, I know they’re not, but wow, the vehemence, the irritation towards the diet or anything biomed that could help the child. But, I don’t feel she was, and hence, he was enlightened. Instead, I think there was just irritation that yet another person felt that the teacher wasn’t the primary reason for improvement in an autistic child. And that’s just sad. It speaks volumes about why the different sections of the autism community can’t get it together and just agree to work together, letting each do their part and cooperating with only the benefit of the child in mind.

There are some great teachers out there, but until they all agree that we parents still know our child best, that they only see the child a small portion of his life and therefore need to listen to us, and that we are entitled to making the decisions about what a child needs and receives, there’s still so much work to do. There’s no place for resentment, irritation or hurt feelings when it comes to doing whatever it takes to improve our children. Even if something only helps one child, who is ANYONE to say it’s not a proven success? Isn’t that one child a success? Does a success have to be 100% of the time to count? 50% of the time? Who determines success? Would teachers be cool with us telling them how to raise their children? They’re there to educate our children, not raise them — vast difference. As long as school is mandatory, we’re a team and any good teacher will acknowledge that.

The more I think about this whole conversation, the more it worries me. We parents are supposed to be openminded and entrust our children to virtual strangers all day, but some teachers don’t trust us in return. It really does work both ways. Unless teachers are willing to truly listen and try to learn, we’re going to be butting heads for years to come. Don’t take it personally if parents don’t thank you for the GFCF diet improving their son’s bowel habits or removing rashes or stopping headaches; those aren’t your realm. A chid that feels better will behave better and may speak. It makes sense. You’re one important part of a big picture — if we can make it a co-op, we’ll all benefit.

If a parent talks with you about something, you don’t have to agree, but at least remember that you’re not dealing with the child 24/7. The parents are. They’re paying the bills. All of them. The diet, the biomed, it does more than help things that you’ll ever even see or hear about. Those hours with our child, it’s just a portion of the day.

I think we’re really, really lucky. We have an excellent teacher for our son right now, and we did the last 1.5 years. She works with us, and the more stories I hear about things friends deal with, or conversations I have like the one explained above, I thank God. Seriously. So to ds’s teacher, thank you. You are a blessing.

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2 Responses to "Enlightenment"

I totally agree 100% that helping a child is a team approach consisting of the parents and the teachers.

I am going to be student teaching next fall and I have worked with kids for some time, and I do not claim to be an expert, but you’re absolutely correct – parents know whats best for their children.

Teachers are not with these children 24-7, but it is the collaboration between parents and teachers that is the best way to gain success for the child.

In regard to teachers listening.. I think you are also right in some ways. Teachers tend to think they know more than the parents and sometimes they do not want to listen.

On the flip side, sometimes teachers TRY to help but parents (not all parents!) can be overbearing and not listen to the teacher either.

Both sides need to be OPEN and WILLING to work together or it just doesn’t work.

The important thing to remember is that the child MUST come first and everything should be done in the best interest of the CHILD. =)

~Megan

I sure could have written this post! In fact, I will touch on this very thing on Monday night after I meet with my son’s teacher. We are not on the same page and that is going to change…on Monday. Another diet non-believer. It is getting tiring to have to prove the benefits of the diet to each teacher that comes along. They all eventually see its benefits (though usually not until they witness what an infraction does). It’d be nice to come across one who believed right from the start though.

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