Next week we have a meeting with my son’s school regarding his issues. The following week he has the long-awaited appointment with the neurologist. I am nervous and excited to begin to get to the root of his delay.
I volunteer in the school library and it’s hard for me to watch him sit at the big table, surrounded by his friends who are reading their books aloud, excited they can read. He studies the pages of his chosen books intensely, you can see him trying to will the words to make sense to him, but they don’t. He looks at his friends as though he’s trying to figure out what code they cracked, that allows them to read.
After school this week while we were reading together, he put his little head on my shoulder. “Mama, did you know that J and E can read now?” he asked. “I noticed that at library,” I said pulling him closer to me. “You’re going to get there, buddy. I promise.”
“I don’t understand it Mama. I’m stupid,” he sighed. He’s frustrated and sad, and doubts himself which shatters my heart in ways I didn’t know were possible. He’s so funny, and talented and clever, he has no idea what he's capable of achieving.
“Listen to me — you’re not stupid — stupid is a bad word we don’t use in this house,” I said sharply. “You are a very smart little boy, and school is where you learn to do things. You learn to read and write and a bunch of other stuff. If you already knew how to do these things you wouldn’t need school. I promise you, you will understand it, and daddy and Mrs. L and mommy will do our best to help you understand it.” Thankfully he ran off to play because I needed the time to cry.
This past week I also played hooky one morning and went to see “The King’s Speech.” It was one of those rare days when I was the only person in the theater.
If you haven’t seen it, please do. It is, quite simply a beautiful film; it’s funny, heartbreaking, encouraging — wonderful. I was glad I had the theater to myself because I was bawling by the end of the film and I am a sloppy crier, which is just embarrassing.
Maybe I was so moved given the circumstances of my son and our upcoming meetings, but I’ve been thinking about the film off and on all week. A parent of a child with special needs said to me once that people have a hard time seeing that special needs kids can be brilliant.
Parents of children with special needs, wherever they are on the spectrum, can’t allow them to give up faith in themselves. We have to reaffirm that they have the ability to overcome barriers. As the film makes so beautifully clear — they have a voice that deserves to be heard.