It is day 6 of this new school year and every single day I have gotten distressing texts from my sophomore on the spectrum. I am sharing them here to illustrate how difficult school is for my kid and others with anxiety, nonverbal disability, depression, not enough support and how absolutely alone and disconnected they feel every single minute in school.
No matter what classes. No matter what peer group.
- the bus is way too scary. Are you sure this is the right one?
- I am the only one in study hall, I don’t know the teacher and I don’t know what to do! I want to be in the AUT room for my study hall but they said there are too many other things going on and I need to make this work.
- I need a break! Who do I tell?
- I don’t know what to do!
- They keep telling me to do stuff and are always too busy with other kids.
- I just need to go to the AUT room and breathe! Who do I tell??
- Dear parents, My teachers are hypocrites! They said they would help me with my anxiety. But, no, they are forcing me to suffer.
- I miss my AUT peeps! I don’t have lunch with them any more. Where are they? Why?
- I thought special ed director was going to make sure people understood better about AUT so we would start this year better. She promised!
- I just want to go to the resource room.
- I am sorry, I just cannot take it. School is way too stressful for me. My teachers are hypocrites because they said in my IEP that I will have support in every class. It’s not happening!!!
- I think I am going to crack wide open.
- I am in study hall and nobody is here! No teacher and the bell rang! I don’t know what to do!
- Mrs. M just came in.
- World Studies and ELA are making me feel impatient and anxious because all they do is talk and it is too much yacking.
- Can I go to online school?
- OK, I am just going to have to do a lot of self-talk. It hash’t worked yet though.
- Gotta go. Have a good day, Mom!
- I am in student services. I feel dizzy and all tingling. My chest hurts a little.
- OK, I am lying down and deep breathing like you said.
- It’s been 30 minutes and I still feel this way. What should I do?
- What do you think of my school?
- Yes, I know there is plenty of good here, but it isn’t my kind of good.
- I just cannot handle public schools in general. The pace just doesn’t fit.
- I am lonely.
- Nobody to check in with and I don’t know what to do!!!!
- I left my meme at home. remind me to bring it tomorrow.
- Can I have a mental health day on Friday? I can’t take 4 days in a row of this crap.
- It’s not better this week!
- In world studies the teacher said that the US will collapse and nobody will get to leave. This scares me to death!
- What do I say? Who can I talk to? Is it true? Can you google it for me?
- Can we leave the US before this catastrophe happens? Mr. H says the country is falling down!!!
- I am pretty upset. I am doing self talk and breathing.
- There’s a flash flood warning!!! what am I going to do?
- I need a new big binder with lots of drawing paper. I need it for my comics and drawing. That’s the only thing I can do to keep calm.
- Oh no! I have homework!
- My bus is in an unfamiliar place. I am scared
- EXCUSE ME!!!!!!!!!!! HELLO!!!!!!!!
- What do I do!!!???????
- I am so stressed out.
I am sure you are wondering how I respond to this stuff.
I reassure him, I suggest people he can go to. I tell him to breathe, doodle, self-talk, go to the AUT room for sensory breaks. As much as my heart breaks with each text, I know the best thing I can do for my kiddo is reassure, talk him through, encourage him to advocate for himself.
Behind the scenes I am emailing people, talking to other parents who are experiencing much of the same. One parent labeled it a “shit show”. She is right
I sent the study hall teacher an email with a short list of things he might find helpful to know about my kid. No response. Really? Is that professional?
I sent special education admin emails. Only one was answered and it was just a canned bullshit response.
When I asked my kiddo to summarize the problems he was quite articulate. He tells me there are too many kids, not enough adults, nobody is there to help him process, he is lonely, his teachers lecture too much in class and he wants to learn what they are talking about but cannot keep up with all the words.He is upset at how messy his papers are because he is always being rushed.
My kid is smart. He is in a mix of classes. Some special education pull out, most in general ed with support. But the support is not there. No accommodations are being made, nobody is helping him process what he is stressed about. Thus far, no evidence of UDL, effective collaborative co-teaching, differentiation.
He comes home every day so far near tears, dejected, angry, and so very lonely.
And yes, I know the start to any school year is challenging for kids and teachers. I started 20 school years as a special education teacher. I know all the glitches that need working out. What I object to this year is that the program is understaffed, my kid’s needs are being ignored, and promises made late last spring by administration have all been broken.
So far today, only one text thanking me for the awesome drawing/doodling notebook I made him last night.
But today is a 2 hour late start and his first 2 classes are ones he likes.
I expect texts to start rolling in soon.