I’d like to write a bit on the topic of disappointment, because disappointment is affecting me this week.
To be honest, disappointment is always affecting me, to some degree. When we started recovering Martin, more than five years ago(!), I thought we’d be done by kindergarten. The mother who launched our biomed journey put that notion into my head, I suppose, because she’d recovered her own son in less than three years. Martin is in second grade now, and if you read this blog, you know that he’s not recovered yet. That disappointments me, chronically.
The fact that the pace of Martin’s recovery disappointments me—that compounds the issue, because I feel disappointed in myself. Think about the son I have today: conversant, joking, getting-healthy, almost-non-stimming, diagnosed ADHD/language delay. Compare him with the constantly stimming, perseveration-stuck, limited-speech son I used to have, diagnosed ASD. What kind of person am I, to let disappointment enter my thoughts?
1. To fail to satisfy the hope, desire, or expectation of.
2. To frustrate or thwart.
To cause disappointment.
We are hoping to transfer Martin from his self-contained special-education school to a general-education classroom with an aide. The neurodevelopmental psychiatrist (mainstream) says that Martin is ready. The behaviorist says that Martin could make the leap. Martin’s Sunday-school teacher, who has charge of him along with a dozen typically developing kids one morning per week (and who herself has a son fully recovered from autism), has advocated for general education. Adrian and I, when we see Martin at his best, know that he has outgrown his special-education placement and needs the challenge of general education.
Our zoned elementary school, at Martin’s grade level, has 26-to-28 pupils per class. Even with an aide, that’s too many. Instead, we’ve been combing the local private schools, which average 12-to-15 pupils per class. I’ve met with the admissions directors of more than half a dozen private schools, explaining that we want to transition our son, and that he would likely need assistance, including a classroom aide, for another year or two. One school told me to get lost: They had no provisions to help a child transition to general education, and were not interested in stretching their parameters. Several schools said they had a resource room and/or a special-education teacher on staff and could offer accommodations but would not consider a classroom aide. Two schools, both church-affiliated, said that if Martin was otherwise a good fit, they would consider allowing a classroom aide. One of those two schools currently has two students with classroom aides, and its headmaster is a former special-education teacher. That school soon became my, and Adrian’s, top choice for Martin. When the school agreed to have Martin visit for a day, last week, we were hopeful.
As I wrote above, when we see Martin at his best, Adrian and I know that he has outgrown his special-education placement and needs the challenge of general education. Regrettably, Martin is not always at his best, and for the past month or so, he’s been sensory-seeking, with a diminished attention span. (A limited attention span—an infinitesimal attention span—remains Martin’s greatest challenge. Diminish that? Argh. Martin? Martin? Hello, Martin?) When he visited our top-choice private school last week, Martin was not at his best.
The school promptly turned us down.
What a disappointment.
Disappointment, because although the other church-affiliated school remains in play, our plan to move Martin to general education may be delayed another year. Disappointment, because the school we thought would want our son rejected him. Disappointment, because biomedical recovery is still a fringe movement, so I cannot tell the school, “Two steps forward and one step back. It gets worse before it gets better. The antimicrobials he’s taking for Lyme disease have kicked up a lot. Wait a month or two. He will be a whole different kid.”
The sting of rejection is still fresh, and today Martin’s annual review arrived from his current school. If you have a child with an IEP, you know that annual reviews, and progress reports, and IEP’s themselves, are not drafted to highlight a child’s strengths. They are drafted to justify maintaining services. Martin’s annual review is no exception. He has trouble sitting in his chair properly. He sometimes calls out inappropriately during lessons. (Detoxing. Ever hear of detoxing?) He reacts poorly when he doesn’t earn all his behavior-management tokens. He can’t focus. He needs prompting. He is making progress, but he isn’t ready to leave his supportive setting.
When I was a child, my family had a Magnavox Odyssey2 video game console. (Showing my age with that admission.) I remember a game that scrambled words. I just searched online but found no record of this game. (If you, dear reader, happen to be an Odyssey2 whiz, or just skilled at finding ancient relics online, please email me at FindingMyKid@yahoo.com, or comment on this post, with some evidence that this word game existed.) I loved the Odyssey2 word game. I challenged myself to find words too long to fit on the screen.
I remember distinctly: The longest word my pre-teen mind could conjure was DISAPPOINTMENTS.
Fifteen letters, DISAPPOINTMENTS. Many months passed before I found a better word than DISAPPOINTMENTS.
Today, here, now, I challenge myself to find a better word than “disappointment.”
I challenge myself to find a better emotion than disappointment.
Martin, next to a good friend of mine, checks out the Long Island Sound.