Onwards and Upwards

My daughter graduated 8th grade last night. Everyone I know is a weepy mess. They keep envisioning their children in their 14-year-old bodies wearing a cap and gown and reflecting on years of pigtails and gingham dresses. They are wondering where the time went and sobbing as their kids have to say good-bye to their beloved classmates and go their separate ways to at least seven different high schools.

 Not me.

 I am angry.

When I am not feeling angry, I am enjoying a great sense of relief that it is over. Thank God. Praise the Lord! Alleluia. Seriously –- THAT relieved.

Middle School has been nothing but a series of miserable events and social rejection for my daughter. You may recognize her. She is the one with inadequate social skills who is often called a “sped” and a “retard” by her peers. She can’t read a social cue to save her life and is inept at knowing how to integrate herself into hallway conversation. Having expressive language skills at the 1st percentile certainly does not help, but in the “dog eat dog” world of middle school it is survivor take all, and the different are quickly left behind.

She had friends once. She had lots of them. That all changed in Middle School, and now I get the joy of watching the same girls who used to spend practically every weekend at my house, celebrate these wonderful milestones together, while my daughter celebrates with me. She has not been invited to ANY graduation parties, but has the pleasure <insert sarcastic tone> of hearing about the parties in school, and seeing pictures of them plastered all over Facebook.

It is so painful that I am considering shutting down my account for the next month so neither of us has to even be aware of the festivities going on around us. My electronic way of putting my fingers in my ears and saying “la la la la, I can’t hear you”.

 

 

What is happening to my daughter is not unique; I wish it were. It speaks to the lack of acceptance and tolerance to differences. As much as I want to shake my finger at these kids and say “shame on you,” it is really the school AND their parents that deserve it. These parents allowed their children to dismiss my daughter because she is different. They did not encourage their children to include and accept. They watched their children climb the popularity ladder as my daughter was left in the dust. Kids are kids, but the parents? They should have known better.

Oh, wait –- they did. They knew everything. They knew of the brain damage my daughter sustained as a result of her birth mother’s drug/alcohol addiction. They knew of the seizures that further attacked her brain. They knew of the extensive developmental delays and significant language deficits. They knew of the tragic losses she faced. Yet, they chose to become just another loss. Shame. On. Them.

Shame on the school, too. Each time my daughter reported the latest cruelty bestowed upon her, I would report it to the school. I never wanted the student who committed the “crime” to get into trouble, but hoped the school would make an effort to educate the student body and teach acceptance. Nine times out of ten I was told that the incident did not happen. All parties were interviewed and all witnesses backed up the other person. Really? What a shock? Okay, school, let me get this straight… She was not called a sped? Then, tell me, where did she come up with that term? I certainly do not call her that at home, so I am pretty sure she picked it up at school. How about the time the kids at her lunch table made her recite the alphabet to prove she was not a retard? Did she make that up too?

Not only did they not support her, and deny to me that any sort of bullying was going on, but they also did everything in their power to make sure she was a social liability. Now, in fairness, I do not think that is what they set out to do, but it sure as hell is what happened. Indulge me as I share a little story with you…

In January, my daughter brought to school a pocket manicure kit that I had put in her Christmas stocking. It was adorable: a zebra-print case filled with zebra-handled manicure tools.

 

 

 

She took it to school to show off in hopes of having something interesting to finally get the attention of her peers. Although I was not aware she took it, I would not have thought anything of her taking in the iPhone-sized kit to school. Well, that would have been a mistake. I received a call that afternoon informing me that my daughter was being suspended from school for having a weapon. Yes, you read that correctly. A weapon. Apparently, the nail file and cuticle scissors contained in the kit are extremely dangerous weapons and you should enter nail salons at your own risk.

This was the beginning of the end. Until this moment I had enjoyed a wonderful relationship with my daughter’s school. Nine and a half years of sheer bliss were over. Not that she was new to difficulties, but that I always felt as if we worked as a team to solve them. She returned from her suspension (which I appealed and lost) to a life of middle school hell. She was no longer permitted in the hallways at the same time as her peers, and, when she was, she was accompanied by an aide (prison guard).

I emailed, I called, and I fought. I was assured that at her IEP meeting — right around the corner — a plan would be put into place and this would be rectified. They lied. For the first time in close to ten years, I refused to sign the IEP and made an appointment with an attorney and an advocate for advice. I COULD NOT believe I had to do this. I write IEPs for a living. I knew what was legal and what was not. What they were doing was most definitely NOT. I requested another meeting armed with good advice. More promises of change. More lies.

I am not going to bore you with the details of the daily struggle that ensued over the next few months. Let me just tell you that it was awful and an experience I would not wish on my worst enemy. I am not a fighter by nature and struggled with having to do so. Part of me was so insulted that I had to go through this. If they did this to ME -– someone who has been in the field for 16 years and knows special education law –- then what were they doing to the parents who blindly trusted them to do the right thing? As the daily fight continued, things got worse and worse for my daughter. Not only did they insist on the prison guard, but their choice of staffing left a bit to be desired. They could not find a consistent person to do the job, so each day my daughter was subjected to someone different who had varied expectations of her. Good idea. Let’s make the special ed kid adjust to us, and penalize her when she cannot. Awesome job!

The aides du jour created an even more difficult social atmosphere for my daughter, and it got to the point where kids would turn their backs on my daughter if she were with certain aides. They made it clear that she was not welcome in their groups during classes or field trips if Ms. “X” was with her. My daughter grew more and more depressed and became school phobic. During this time I would give her a day off from time to time because she just could not handle going to school and facing the pressure. When she was there, I would receive upwards of ten texts a day begging me to pick her up. One day, she simply wrote that she wanted to shoot herself and wished she had a gun. I immediately texted back but did not get an answer. I called school to find out what was going on. You are never going to guess what the schools response was. Go ahead. Guess. I dare ya… Okay, ready? They assigned her detention for using her cell phone during school.

Ummmmmmm… Yo, Asshat school! Did you consider the content of the message? SHE SAID SHE WANTED TO SHOOT HERSELF. In January, when she brought in a manicure kit I had to take her for a crisis evaluation to make sure she was not a danger to herself or others and could return to school. Now that she has stated she wants to shoot herself, you do not so much as ask her if she is okay and issue a detention slip. Again, GREAT JOB!

My daughter survived middle school and so did I. I am angry it went down the way it did. I am angry that her birth mother took away my daughter’s chance for normalcy when she could not control her addictions. I am angry that all but one of her former friends turned their backs on her. I am angry that their parents allowed them to. I am angry that school only fanned the flames. I am angry that, for all of the above reasons, I am not a sappy mess. I should be, but that is just another thing that has been taken away from us. Although I am relieved it is over, and pray I never have to fight like this again in my life, my daughter knows that I will if I have to. It is important for our kids to know they can count on us when the rest of the world turns their backs on them.

‘Onwards and Upwards’ is our new motto. My daughter is lucky because she has the opportunity to go to a high school where she will get a fresh start. No one there knows her as a “sped,” “retard,” or the one with the crazy aide. Although it is a public school, it has a very large percentage of special needs students. She will go from a “bottom feeder” to middle of the road. She will be surrounded by kids LIKE HER.

 

Onwards and Upwards!

 

 

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to my TMR family who has supported me and my girl 100%. They listened to me, encouraged me and gave me strength when I was ready to stop fighting. They validated me and cheered me on. They reached out before each meeting to make sure I remembered to wear my “bitch boots,” and sat anxiously at their computers waiting for the play-by-play when it was over. It may have looked to the naked eye as if I walked in to those meetings outnumbered, but I never did. NEVER. Now I look forward to sharing with them stories of new friendships and successes in high school as my daughter gets to start a new chapter in her beautiful life.

 

Onwards and Upwards.

 

Love, Saint

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55 Responses to Onwards and Upwards

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  4. Robin says:

    Saint, thank you for sharing your story. This year my daughter started middle school. I was so nervous for her and anxiously awaited for the first phone call from the office. Amazingly her school work was perfect. She was on time, enjoyed school and even participated in gym. By the third quarter she had 30 tardies, a dislike for her teachers and her grades had dropped to below passing. When I met with the core teachers for her IEP they were very judgemental, angry, disappointed and very unpleasant with my daughter and her progress. Did they know anything about Asperger’s?? Not really?? Did they know that she was bored in math, had learned the subject matter and was ready to move on?? No, he said her behavior was disruptive and disrespectful. She pulled up her grades at the end except for PE. She was never encouraged to participate and so she never did.
    As for friends, she had none. The one’s from elementary school were nice to her but only for attention. They were always the children who were getting into trouble and who are headed down the wrong path. She had many encounters with students but never saw it as being bullied. As her mom,I was sick over it all. She did step up for herself and had a mtg with the girls and “student mediators.” She felt better but I never did. It is so heartwrenching to watch your daughter not share in these fun filled years. She has never been invited to a birthday party, a sleepover or over to play. As a single mom, I find it so hard to watch and take in. I am upset by the ignorance of educational leaders and parents who only care about their child. I am scared to see how the next two years will play out.

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  6. Lisa J says:

    I am so sorry she has dealt with that. Schools in general seem to be lacking in any kind of sense. In the past year (7th grade), my son has been stabbed with a pencil (purposely and deep enough to leave a large hole), given a concussion (once again, purposely; he missed a block during a football game and the student he was to block for was tackled rough enough to receive a concussion; he and a friend decided my son needed to “know what it felt like” – apparently that was because a coach said maybe he would miss fewer blocks if he knew what it felt like to be injured by a tackle). The school is so rough that his best friend’s social anxiety got to the point where he could no longer attend – he throws up at the possibility of even having to GO to school and spent the first half of the semester tutored. Attempted to return the next semester and got so sick halfway through the first day that his mother gave up, pulled him out and put him in home schooling.

    These kids are sweet, loving and would give anyone the shirt off of their backs. I myself was labeled as “socially retarded” growing up – I assume it would be on the spectrum in the DSM-IV (as a guess, somewhere around Asperger’s), so I have no idea if my son and his friend are “normal” or maybe not. I do know they don’t deserve the treatment they get and are not “stupid” or anything else. I also have a grandson whose mother was a drug addict; he struggles with multiple deficits, most in understanding how other people think, etc., and speech difficulties. He can read and write above grade level, but when speaking sounds like he’s approximately 3-1/2 or 4 years old (age seven).

    My heart breaks – I’ve lived their isolation. I don’t understand why other children can be so evil, but I really definitely know they can. I wish there was a way to “fix” them. It seems like bullying awareness ends up being bullying training, and when you confront teachers and staff about issues they usually assure you that your child made them up, exaggerated them or that they really were just “part of growing up.”

    I don’t remember anyone when I was growing up deliberately getting a concussion, but I do remember being the miserable student in English class who had a student behind her with a large hat pin. When an uncontrolled yelp came out of me the first time I got stabbed with it and I was threatened with detention, the girl behind me giggled and I knew I would just have to endure the repeated pricks until she got bored with it. It took a few days to get to a point where I wouldn’t even flinch when she did it, but I got there…

    Life is just not fair.

  7. Leslie Willsmom says:

    I’m so sorry your daughter had to go through that. School is hard enough for our kids without having the administration clearly working against you. Shame on them! So glad she is getting a chance for a fresh start…

  8. Sugah says:

    Love you Saint! And love your girl too. So so so excited about all the good things ahead of her. Don’t know what high school will be like…but one thing’s fo sho. That girl is being prepared for something bigger than we can imagine. She is strong. She knows love. Love from her brave-hearted momma and all her *aunts and uncle*. You are such an awesome example for her. She is gonna soar……

    MUAH!

  9. KFuller says:

    This was one of the most difficult reads in a long time. Heartbreaking. Is your daughter in as much pain as you are? Parents are the forgotten damage. Watching what our kids go through, the loneliness, rejection etc. Part of me is grateful that our boy is mostly oblivious to it. He remembers the kids he was mainstreamed with, but holds no expectations from them. He doesn’t realize that there are parties he has never been invited to. Maybe we have over protected him from all of it. I don’t know and I don’t care. I hold all of the pain. And will continue to do so as long as I can.

  10. AmyinIdaho says:

    My heart breaks for all of our kids. Not that this is ANYWHERE near as dramatic – but it does illustrate how pervasive bullying is: This week we were visiting family in another part of the state. We visited a local park/splash pad to burn off some energy. Two little mean-girls-in-the-making starting circling my boy like he was prey. (He is 9, they were probably 5). They started taunting him, following him around, trying to get him to react to their words and actions. Thankfully he was in full on bliss mode with the water and didn’t notice.

    After they started to circle him like a pack of wolves, I marched up to them and gave them what I hope was a “life-defining” moment. They claimed that they were just wanting to play with him but I shot that down fast as I watched the entire thing play out. I think I probably made at least one of them sh*t her cute little swim suit. Point being, these kids are growing up with little parental involvement or guidance (as evidenced by the fact that an angry parent didn’t march on up to me to ask me what the hell I was saying to their kid). We all have to make sure that we confront bullying and exclusion when and where it happens – even if it’s not perpetrated against our own kids.

  11. Shiri says:

    I cried after I read this too, I hope that when my son gets to middle school that it won’t be like this, but I know its wishful thinking. My sister just finished high school and her Senior Silver Knight project (an achievement program in FL) was to bring Autism awareness to middle schoolers. She put together a powerpoint presentation and went to different middle schools in the area educating them about what Autism is, and how just smiling or saying hi to an ASD person can make them feel more comfortable to open up. She was shocked to find out that most of these kids had no clue what autism was. They thought these kids are were weird or were antisocial and just didn’t want to have friends, and they were afraid to approach them b/c they really thought they were unfriendly. A lot of these kids were really enlightened and more open to trying to be aware of how to approach special needs peers. I think peer pressure in a positive way, i.e. a cool high schooler telling middle schooler thats its totally uncool to bully special needs kids, can go a long way. She also started a campaign called “Sit With Me”, were highschoolers had to make an attempt to sit next to other highschoolers who were sitting alone at sports games and lunch. When kids group together, it somehow makes it less scary to approach other kids. My hope is that this generations siblings and aunts and cousins of ASD kids will forge the way for better school experiences.

    My son goes to a typical private Montessori school with an aide, he’s just finished Kindergarden. I was so terrified that he would be rejected or made fun of, or the other parents would complain. But the school made it their mission to educate the other children and the parents about my son and another child with Down’s syndrome in the class. My son made so much progress socially, he has learned to play games and sports with his peers. The kids fight over who gets to sit next to him and help him, and even though he is not having full conversations with them, he is able to interact with them socially like he’s never done before.

    It breaks my heart that there are so many horrible experiences that so many of our children have to face, when all it takes is very little accommodation and open mindedness on the school’s part. Just a little extra care to educate the children and parents can make a huge difference in a special needs child’s life. Not only that, but I believe that these NT children will turn out to be sooo much better as individuals, they learn patience and empathy and how to accept differences, and how to be helpers and leaders. There needs to be more places like this, b/c this next generation of ASD children cannot be swept under the rug like in the past. We have to expose our kids to the community! I applaud you, Saint, for fighting for your daughter’s rights – not many parents would have been able to stick it out. I pray with all my heart that your daughter will have a fresh new start in HS!

    • Saint says:

      First of all Shiri – I heart your sister!!!!!!!!! I love the program she started in Florida. It sounds fabulous and perfect. I really, really love the idea of HS kids getting involved and putting the pressure on – AND – the part of sitting with a kid who is sitting alone. Wow – I just love every single bit of this!!!!

      I think it is wonderful that the staff at your son’s school has really done their job and worked at creating a good environment for your son. It warms my my heart to read that <3

      • Haley McPeek says:

        YES! I love this idea. Going to try to get that started here, I really think it could make a world of difference! We can not only spend time educating the kiddos with ASD on how to socialize with their peers, we have to educate the peers on how to socialize back with their ASD classmates. I LOVE the “sit with me” idea! I had a friend with ASD in Highschool who I would invite to sit with us every day senior year. By the end of the year, his social skills were a little better, but it was the other (NT) friends at my table who really learned a lot!!

        &hearts

  12. Alice says:

    I was appalled to read this post but what I can’t understand is why you didn’t choose to pull her out of this environment earlier. If private school placement was not an option, I would have in the same situation, home schooled. My son is at a wonderful school right now but realistically I take it year by year. If I get to a point where the school is unresponsive and my child is as unhappy as yours appears to be, I would pull out mid school year….nothing is worth sending your kid to school every day under this kind of scenario. Nothing.

    • Moneytmr says:

      I think it’s important to remember that households vary. Not everyone is part of a two parent household. Single parents raising special needs children typically do not have the luxury of homeschooling.

    • Saint says:

      Hi Alice,
      Thank you for your response. I agree with what you are saying, but I was functioning under very difficult situations. For one, private school was not an option. My daughter, who I adopted 10 years ago, is one of the few TMR kids that is not on the spectrum. Her dx include Triple X, FAS, ADD, Bronchiecstasis, Seizure disorder, Submucous cleft, Lead Poisoning, Auditory Processing Disorder, Sensory issues, and significant speech, gross and fine motor delays. She has so many similar issues as asd kids so Goddess (who I knew from college) introduced me to the wonderful world of biomed – and here we are. My daughter is very unique and private schools do not exist for kids with FAS or Triple X. She would have been sent to a school for ED kids – where she did not belong. She is a compliant and sweet girl and did not belong in that environment. The other issue is that most private schools for SN kids in my area are predominantly males. My daughter needs to be around females if she is ever going to learn how to properly socialize with them. Birth family issues have caused a lot of male related issues, so to put her in that environment was not a possibility. Home schooling was not an option either since I am a single mom with a full time job.

      As far as her staying there, it was quite a roller coaster. When the aide was a good one, things were awesome. When the aide was bad, things were awful. She had one aide from Sept-Jan. When that aide left for a full time teaching positionin Jan, the sub cycle began and things hit the fan. It was right before she left that the manicure kit incident happened too so not being allowed in the hallway complicated things. Also, at each meeting I was promised changes – and then they did not happen. I would think things were getting better only to have the rug pulled out from beneath us. After the first meeting the advocate attended he stated how well in went, and then was shocked when school did not follow through AT ALL. In the end, I definitely won the war and got all of her needs properly met – sadly though, it took months and months of fighting. Even if I did want her in a private school, it would have probably taken me the same length of time to fight for that. The other thing I had to think about is that my daughter is 14 and had spent 10 years in the district. Prior to this year, I always felt as if the school was in my corner. We definitely worked as a team. At one point I was considering home instruction (they would have to send a teacher 10 hours/week) but she wanted to try to continue. At the end of 8th grade the kids have a ton of fun events. She felt she had earned them and had wanted to be there for them. She was right. To pull her out and have her miss those rites of passages would have been awful.

      The final reason – and perhaps most important reason I left her there was because of her amazing teacher. All of my issues were with the admin – never the teaching staff. I am attaching a link to a blog I wrote about her teacher for Teacher Appreciation Day. I am sure if you read it, my decision to leave her there will make much more sense 🙂

      https://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/all-hail-saint-medina/

      Thanks again for your response – I hope this helps my decisions make a bit more sense 🙂

  13. Diana Gonzales says:

    Can’t stop crying!!!! LoRenzo will be 7 and he’s going to the 1st grade. We moved from OH toTX just for the school system. Right now it’s wonderful, he’s doing so well and he’s happy. The children in his mainstream classes are welcoming and accepting…now. You’ve hit on the fear I fight to not think about everyday, what will happen when kids get older? Some will be cruel, some will be offended by his very existence. What’s worse, adults that I entrust my child’s well being to, will turn a blind eye, a deaf ear. With the nubers of our children going up the way they are ,I’m thinking maybe it’s time we start guest speaking at schools to teach the other kids that our children at the core are just like them; unsure at times, want friends, and totally loved by their parents. I wont be able to send him out a sacrificial lamb! If it doesn’t gain him friends or respect, I’m thinking it will at the very least make a student think twice before picking on my son or make the staff keep a closer eye. I have a way with words and think I’d be pretty effective in explaining how the most dangerous place is between a Mama and her offspring!!!!

    • Saint says:

      I love the idea of educating the school community, and think starting young would be extremely beneficial. Sunshine has gone in to her son’s school to read books and help to educate. She might be a great person for you to reach out to if you are interested in getting this started. I agree that a mama scorned makes a woman scorned look like a pussy cat.

      • Diana Gonzales says:

        The more I think about it , the more necessary it feels. This will be my thing from now on I think. I will message Sunshine for the “how to” thanx and…you’re a Saint! 😉

  14. Ana Maria Abba says:

    I CANNOT believe that school!!!! That principle should be FIRED. Reminds me of the idiot principle on Glee but this one is more evil.

    So sorry you and your daughter went through this.

    May high school bring much fun, and lasting memories.

    Have a wonderful summer!

    • Saint says:

      Thank you Ana – I hope you have a wonderful summer too!!!!! Want to hear something funny about the principal? I went to college with him – as did 2 of the other TMR’s. Talk about putting a damper on a reunion 🙂

  15. Taximom5 says:

    For all of you who have commented so far–am I the only one whose children attend a public school with a large number of vaccine injured/autistic spectrum/disabled children?

    I had assumed that most schools had a significant percentage of such students.

    We have parent support groups, both in the schools and in the churches/synagogues. One such mom just happens to be an attorney, so she has become quite the advocate, and has given all of us wonderful advice.

    We have also gotten great advice from the “wraparound services” Base Services Coordinator, who has come to our IEP meetings, and advocated for our child with us. When she requested an aide to be present at recess to enable socialization, and help our child learn and join in recess games, the principal snickered, and said, “you want us to legislate playtime?” To which our wonderful BSC replied, “yes, of course, that’s how it’s supposed to be done; it’s the only way to teach ASD children how to socialize with their peers, and it’s the only way to teach the neurotypical children how to socialize APPROPRIATELY with ASD children.”

    In addition, I think that we should all print out stacks of copies of Saint’s wonderful article, and leave them at doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms, at ballet and music schools, at the public library, at McDonald’s and ChuckECheeses and other childrens’ play places, at the local swimming pools, on supermarket bulletin boards, and at employee lounge areas at work, etc.

    • Saint says:

      Taximom5 – it sounds as if you have a super fabulous support network…and are extremely lucky!!!!! I am interested to hear from others, but I have not heard of anyone else having such extensive resources. THRILLED for you!!!!

  16. SavageTMR says:

    Just know that you are raising an incredible and loving person that is filled with compassion and goodness. She WILL make a difference in this world–guaranteed 🙂 xoxoxo

  17. nefsmom says:

    Oh Saint you made me cry and cry.
    I’m so so sorry this happened to you and your princess.
    Love and light to you and your girl. Here’s to a new start for us all next year.
    Despite the stress of having 3 kids under 6 home for a month in the summer I am so looking forward to close the doors on the world and regroup- just us 5.
    My precious girl is graduating kindergarden and I’m feeling so tired and sad but hopeful for next year.
    All year she’s fought to overcome her mobility issue and speech difficulties and I watched her try and no one else is trying with her. She’ll greet the mothers and children in the morning at drop off. She’ll compliment them and say nice bracelet or nice shirt or something kind and her efforts amaze me! They rush by, they push us aside when we’re trying so laboriously to walk up or down the stairs. They park in the disabled car spots right in front of the school so their little brats don’t walk to extra steps and there we are ‘walking’ in the rain or absurd heat because there’s no nearer spot. I end up at work after dropping her off with my clothes wrinked or dirty already and feeling angry and depressed and I think it’s too early in the day to feel like this….
    I don’t say anything to the parents or the children. I tell my girl, maybe they didn’t hear you, or if they obviously did and are not responding I try to tell her some people’s mommies didn’t teach them manners. I’ve spoken to the principals and teachers a number of times but it gets me nowhere. I get a vibe that if I push to much they’ll tell us we’re no longer able to attend- this has happened to us twice before where when I advocated for the basics I was told her needs are too many and can’t be covered at the school so we had to leave the school.
    In this part of the world there is no ADA. When gradeschool starts there are some few laws to fall back on but not enough.
    I’m telling myself grade school will be better but man oh man does it have to be so hard???

    • Saint says:

      Speechless and sad for you. My heart breaks just thinking of what your daughter has already endured at as such a young sweet pea. Like you, I used to make excuses for everyone elses poor behavior, but have stopped doing so. My daughter is 14 and now my job is to teach her not to let people walk all over her anymore. That was a tough pill for me to smile since i just think everyone should be nice and play together. I hope you have a wonderful month bunkering down with your family. Much love to you!

  18. BB says:

    MEAN kids are the product of a MEAN society created by MEAN adults.
    Education is big business and what is best for ALL the kids is the least of the equation.
    Once again, money and politics rule.

    All of God’s Creation has been damned from modern living and medicine.
    Even with this reality, there will always be a pecking order and our kids/our families are considered easy prey for others to feed on to make themselves and their loved ones feel superior.

    My 15 year old daughter, who has taken many hits from the mean school culture that is the norm, said that reading Lord of the Flies gave her insight to why some people are so mean–it is their own FEAR and INSECURITY.
    She pities such creatures and knows she is not one of them. She prays for mercy, grace, patience, recovery for all, and unconditional LOVE and FORGIVENESS.
    She plans to graduate early be continuing to take online courses too so she can live life on her terms, sooner than later.

    My 18 year old chose to finish high school online and live life on his terms, I fought hard for this and won,–he will soon receive a diploma from our high school and not from the online school.High school is not always better.

    My 13 year old son-just got an IPAD with an excellent communication ap and I pray this finally returns the voice he started to have so very long ago.
    I am glad I stopped fighting our school district to do right by him a couple years ago. Fighting the world drained me and left nothing for anything else.
    He has been at the best private school specifically for ASD children full time for 2 years and he loves it, he is so happy, and is making much more progress.
    He always went to private schools, but I insisted he also spend time in district so he could be with his “peers”. OMG! what was I thinking.he now IS with his peers who accept him just as he is.

    Go where you are celebrated not tolerated!
    And that is the best advice for all aspects of life.
    Life is too short for anything less.

    My kids, our family have found so many wonderful things to become a part of OUTSIDE of school which is NOW our focus for all that is best.
    School is just a means to an end which allows kids a “get out of jail” card so they can “pass go” and be free to be themselves on their terms, as much as that is possible.

    We must love our kids and validate them as PERFECTION in God’;s eyes, for that is exactly what they are, perfect hearts and spirits who could teach our MEAN SOCIETY how to become more humane.

    Our families are now leaders for anew kind of HUMANE SOCIETY, and this is the society I want to live in and invite everyone else to join.ALL are welcome.

    Peace out!

    Barbara Biegaj in Chicago

    • Saint says:

      Barbara -I am in awe of you. I love the quote about going where celebrated, not tolerated. I truly think she will have that opportunity next year. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences with me!

  19. Kathryn Berg says:

    Tragic, heart wrenching story. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be her in that situation. Sadly, I am sure that others have similar stories. I would meet and complain to some school board members or the superintendent. If the principal isn’t doing his or her job, it is time to go to the next level.

    • Saint says:

      Kathryn – You must have a crystal ball. I have a meeting set up with two board of ed members that I know well. I also plan on sitting down with the Superintendent as well. My daughter is out, but I need to start helping those who are still there. My own personal “no child left behind” mission. 🙂

  20. Kristen says:

    I’m so sorry for what you have been through. My daughter is on that same road. Thankfully we have one more year left at the elementary school. She has one good friend at this point, I’m hoping they can stick together. It’s so heartbreaking that with everything they have to endure, they have to deal with mean girls on top of it.

    • Saint says:

      Kristen – I too hope that your daughter’s friendship stays strong as they enter the rough years ahead. Girls really are horrible. I wish it were different – but sadly, it is not the case 🙁

      Stay strong and just keep a watchful eye on your daughter <3

  21. Melisa McNabb says:

    I am crying like a baby!!!! My heart is breaking (again!) – I know this is what my near future looks like! My daughter is going to middle school in the fall – I know in my soul that my daughter is struggling NOW but everyone “assures” me that is not the case! I love you – TM’S!!!!! I have finally found my family who can speak so eloquently for me and my two daughters!!!! I feel your pain as it is my own, wishing you and yours a bright, shiny and assbrat free future!!!!!! HUGS!

    • Saint says:

      Melissa – you are NOT alone. I am just ending middle school, but some of the other thinking mom’s are just starting. We are here for you and will all get through this together. I promise.

  22. Nicole says:

    This is one of the worst, most unfair stories I have ever read about a child on the spectrum as well as the extreme negligence and ineptness of a school. I wish your daughter much luck in high school. With a mom like you, she’ll make it through and her next step in life is sure to be brighter than the days you described.
    A Brand New Day – yes!

  23. jan houston says:

    I am so sorry your precious daughter had to go through this. Middle school IS hell. I was the shy, quiet one who was never included in anything. I wasn’t very socially aware, either. I am glad I was able to homeschool my oldest through these two years. My middle child attends a small private school which generally keeps an eye on things. This year has not been the best for him, either.
    My youngest is in a self-contained classroom in the local elementary. I am not looking forward to high school for him. He is so isolated from children his own age at school. He cannot handle being in a regular class, but I do wish he could make a few friends his own age.
    I hope one day no other child has to endure this. I hope their parents never have to go through the pain of watching their children struggle with the hatefulness in this world.
    Thank you so much for the post. You ladies baring your souls to us are phenomenal. I appreciate you so much!

    • Saint says:

      I welled up when I read your last paragraph Jan. I do feel as if I bare my soul when I write and it is not always easy. Knowing that by doing so I have reached at least one person makes it all worthwhile. I know my fellow TMR’s would agree 100%

  24. cia parker says:

    My autistic daughter’s school was bad, another story, but it was her junior girl scout troop that was really bad. Even when she said hi to the other girls, not one of them even answered her, but just looked at her glumly, unhappy that she even existed. Not one of them ever said a word to her, and the mothers enabled it, equally unhappy that she existed. These worthless girls would run around aimlessly at every meeting, hitting each other, hugging each other, mugging for pictures, never listening, never working, never participating, never including my daughter, but scooching away from her when they all lined up for a picture. My daughter making the same expression they did, trying to feel included, God knows why. She diligently served them snack, pouring their drink and putting a cupcake on every plate, and not one even said thank you. Two years ago, before I had gotten the picture, I asked the mothers of two of them if our daughters could get together to play, and both smiled effusively and said sure, great idea, but both then left two emails apiece unanswered. But then one of the girls at a meeting, where she was running around unfocused, proclaiming an art activity to be “boring” one minute after starting it, said she sometimes became transfixed when looking toward the sun, and no one could get her out of it, she didn’t hear them. And her little brother had had seizures in the car, and she’d yell for her mother to wheel the SUV around and head for the hospital. These kids have all been vaccine damaged, ADHD, seizure disorders, complete lack of human kindness disorder, and a lot of them have grown up and are working in the school system. Does anyone else remember that movie Stop the World, I Want to Get Off?

    • Saint says:

      Sadly, I think after school activities can be even more challenging for our kids. They are run by adults who pretend to know how to deal with kids – but truly are not trained properly. I can say this with confidence since I have been a Girl Scout leader and recreation league coach. I gave up being a leader at one point and eventually had to pull my daughter from Scouts because I did not feel the leaders were creating a safe enough environment for her. Very sad when the leaders are the bad influences.

      I do not know the movie you speak of, but I do understand what you are saying. It is crazy and we watch kid after kid getting diagnosed with one thing or another. When will it stop?

  25. Susan O. says:

    AMEN – onward and upward for both of you! Middle school is the absolute worse bullshit, especially for girls. My daughter (NT – whatever that is- who had an IEP for some learning difficulties) is now 21 and those years are long behind her. But they were hellish for her, too, although certainly not to the same extent as you have experienced. She and I were both so relieved when 8th grade was over and it was time to move on to high school, where things were SO much better for her. I can tell you that for my daughter, the farther away from those years she’s gotten, the better her life has been! I know this will be true for your daughter too, Saint!!! Big Van Morrison fan here, so I LOVED your song choice 🙂

    • Saint says:

      I LOVE Van Morrison and he was my go to guy on the i-pod in my office when I needed to calm down after yet another phone call from the school. I am so glad you liked my song choice!!!! I am also sooooo appreciative of you sharing your story about your 21 year old daughter. Whenever I tell people “it can’t get worse” they say “oh yes it can. High School is just as bad”. THANK YOU for allowing me to believe that the worst can be behind us. If your daughter left it behind in 8th grade, so can mine. Onwards and Upwards!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!

  26. Robyn says:

    I was wiping away tears reading this, I feel terrible that she went through that, its heartbreaking. I wish you both the best of luck with highschool.

  27. Wendy Nawara says:

    Saint-
    I understand how awful that experience can be. We also had to fight with a junior high this year to ensure that, despite my son’s health impairment, he could attend extracurricular activities. I also used to write IEP’s, was clearly versed on Special Ed law, had legal contacts at the Office of Civil Rights and DOE, hired an advocate, and still *could not believe* the hoops I was required to jump through in order to obtain just a bit of normalcy for my chronically sick child. I had the exact same thoughts as you, “If this is what they do to a parent with special educational experience, what are they getting away with for the kids whose parents don’t understand their rights?” It ended up that he was not able to attend the dance that started the shitfire ball rolling, but that we “won” the inclusion in the future on his Section 504 plan. (How can you “win” something that was your right all along? Nevertheless, I’m hopeful that it is all behind us. But we have one more year… and his sister, with same chronic illness, starts there in the fall. Ay yi yi).
    I know that your daughter with find her way in high school. The potential is there and just overflowing with possibilities for her! I wish you both the very best! Viva TMR!!!
    -Wendy

    • Saint says:

      Wendy – I feel your pain and frustration as I read about your experience. It certainly is mind-blowing that we have to fight for what is a right/educational offering. I hope that things go much smoother for your daughter in the future. Thank you for sharing your story as well – I think it is so great for others to know that they (we) are not alone!

  28. Christine Sullivan says:

    You will have an entire entourage supporting both of you next year. Put the past behind, and look forward to the future, one of positivity and change. We got your back here! This story makes me sad, but optimistic as well. I know where she is headed and feel very confident that “we” can make a difference.

    • Saint says:

      Oh Christine…THANK YOU!!!! Having her there amongst the most caring staff is going to be unbelievably great!!!! Thank you for being a special part of her fabulous future <3

  29. Goddess says:

    I knew all this and I am sitting in my car bawling. Can’t wait for high school and Her fresh start. XO

  30. BESkala says:

    Thank you for a good read. (((hugs))) I am so sorry to hear about this experience. We all know about Mean Girls, but reading about how they treat a person with ASD is heartbreaking.
    My son is in an early childhood school, so we are a ways off from JHS. But that doesn’t mean I don’t already worry. At this point in our journey, my son would not know if he were being bullied short of someone hitting him. Other people’s words mean nothing to him. In a twisted way, I am thankful for that. He is a happy child. It’s my mission to keep him that way. For now, cruel words/comments only hurt his mommy.
    Best of luck to your dear daughter in her new school.

    • Saint says:

      Isn’t it sad when we know how badly they are being treated, but they have no idea? It is a double whammy of hurt. Hurting for them, and hurting because their disability prevents them from truly understanding what is going on.

  31. Guilded Thinker says:

    Saint, what your daughter has endured just breaks my heart, You’re right. The parents and the school are more to blame than the kids. Once the school showed that they would take the bullies’ word over the victim’s, it gave the bullies carte blanche to continue. I’m so glad she is getting a fresh start. Much love to you and your girl.

    • Saint says:

      carte blanche is right – but thank goodness – it is OVER. Much love to you too <3 and much thanks for your continued support!!!!!

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