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I'm always wondering if someone who might not "get" autism would misinterpret the methods I use in raising my children. I send my older autistic child G to public school because he's demonstrated a need for special services in a way that the school understands and can quantify on a test, such as an IQ, handwriting or schoolwork test. He functions well for the most part with ACADEMIC special help and very little "social" help. He needs a little "extra eyeball" than your usual kid, but an aide is unnecessary.

Elf, on the other hand, tests very high IQ-wise. He makes eye contact and speaks coherently. He reads, writes and calculates at grade level or better. So he must not have autism, our school district reasoned, but is manipulating the situation and his parents. OH! And somehow he was quite the brilliant five-year-old, because he sure pulled the wool over the Developmental and Behavioural department of a prestigious childrens' hospital. They think he is autistic, and by that I don't mean the chatty Asperger's kind, either.

He has a hard time in crowds. He stims so badly, you'd almost think he'll fly away. His heart pounds something fierce. This is your clue to figure out a way to calm him before he runs or something bad happens. Which is hard to do when you're out with two infants and another child (who insists on running in stores and hugging everyone while introducing himself!) during the day, even under the best of circumstances. So *most* of the time, we stay home. We make occasional trips to market or walks, but for the most part, we have an unscheduled life here. No weekly co-op or soccer practice. Friends don't just "drop by." Friends rarely to never come over, in fact. I find it makes things easier for the Elf and the whole family and we can just stick with almost the exact same schedule every day of the year except weekends and big Christmas-type holidays.

In the back of my mind, though, I do occasionally wonder what other people think about that. The kids at church will ask my sons if they get to do their workbooks in their jammies and if they got out of the house at all that week. And I'm pretty sure that they must have gotten that stereotype from somewhere... like a mom or dad, perhaps? Nonetheless, I must say in our case it's quite true. The children go out rarely. They might as well wear their jammies, and with Elf's sensory issues, his hair is usually matted down and uncombed because I don't have the heart to endure the crying and screaming involved in making it neat every morning.

Dana wrote something in my comment section that really interested me. We were discussing the fact that sometimes abusive parents homeschool and there seems to be a call to "check" on these folks. She wrote, "The typical profile of an abused child is not one isolated from the world, but one involved in every free activity available: school, daycare, after care, camps, programs at the Y, etc. When I worked in the system, I kind of wondered when anyone had time to abuse the kids."


I wonder what the "typical" abused child is like? No, I'm not picking on Dana's comment; I'm mulling it over. I just wonder the criteria that social workers would use in "borderline" cases and that sort of thing. Because I think "abuse" is different from what other people think it is.

Yeah, we've all heard reports about kids with every bone in their body broken. Obvious abuse and what-not. But I wonder what's the *secret* to figuring out abuse that social workers use in the not-obvious cases? It really BOTHERS me that I've talked with the secretary at the preschool (when Emperor went) about people leaving their infants alone in cars and walking INTO buildings 50 feet away with their other children, and nothing is done. "Oh," said the secretary, "Well, he's *just* dropping off (kid) and he's coming right back in five minutes or so!"

Are you serious? I'm thinking. I called so YOU or someone at the school can have a chat with him about maybe someone coulda stolen his kid, or if he got held up in there somehow the baby could swelter. I don't want to confront crazy people myself, you know, but I also don't want to call the cops and rat 'em out. Sigh. Nevermind. I'll hang up now.

But then I sat in the van and waited for the man to come back, feeling like a stalker or maybe an overworrier that someone would take the child. I felt like a stupid idiot for reporting him to the school, especially given the attitude I got. Maybe I made too much out of it if the secretary wasn't worried, but then I keep thinking that she was wrong telling me what she did. Then I think I'm stupid for flipping out about it and especially since this has happened more than once.

Then I think, no WAY the TEACHERS or principal at that school would let it go by and maybe I should chat with them? (I was afraid they'd actually jump off and REPORT the guy tho') I mean, no way I'd drop my kid off at the school if the teachers were like this lady. Then I think I ought to just go home and mind my own business. So I do.

But I hear about "neglect" from public school teachers who confide that certain parents never make sure homework is done or attend parent-teacher conferences. *Personally,* and maybe this is just me, I think the first parent is abusive and the second parent... well, maybe they don't care about academics for their kid? So what, I'm thinking... no offense to the teacher. Of course the teacher thinks her course is important! But maybe the student just wants to be a beautician or work at Wal-Mart and she doesn't have college ambitions. She's biding her time until she's free to pursue the career SHE wants. *shrug* Sorry. Can't get upset there.


  1. Very interesting post... there are many forms of abuse as we all know.... as for the baby left in the car.. I too would have rung SOMEBODY about it! It is dangerous to say the least to leave an infant/baby in a car alone! I get so mad when I see this happen... you did the right thing to ring the school.

  2. My kid doesn't do homework. Ever. We have tried everything. And I do mean everything. It's not a sign of neglect. She just doesn't do it. Her choice, her consequences.

    The baby left in the car? Of course he could have been taken. It happens more than most people like to think.

    If more people reported things like this AT THE TIME THEY ARE HAPPENING, more could be done by child protection services. If that parent leaves that child alone in the car in front of witnesses, what does he do behind closed doors? And what is with that teacher's attitude?

    I have a case at the moment where a 'concerned neighbour' rings up after the event to tell us that mum has left the kids home alone again. Mate, TELL US THE MINUTE SHE LEAVES SO WE CAN CATCH HER AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

    Don't give up. Eventually, the community will take ownership of child protection issues. One day.

  3. Tracey, I'd be nervous leaving my kid with the teachers if they felt that way, but I have a feeling they WOULD call child protective services and go way overboard, and that's not what I want. I was HOPING that the secretary would pass the info on or have someone TALK to the guy? Maybe the fellow wasn't thinking about the possible consequences?

    Another thing that happens a LOT at the MEGA church I used to go to (largest Southern Baptist in the state!) is that people would let their kids go potty by themselves. The church folks would announce periodically stuff like, well, we're right near the highway and so for safety's sake we'd appreciate you accompany your child.

    No one seems to "get" that it's a code for, "We have actual convicted child molesters worshipping with us in church. We can't prevent their coming here, and we do watch them as close as possible, but my goodness think what you're doing! We've seen men hanging out in the bathroom before and have security forces, but we can't be everywhere all the time."

    When you talk to a parent straight up about you know for a FACT there are convicted child molesters there, Mom and Dad tend to watch their kid better. In fact, I could care less about the stares that my kids had to go potty with me till they were NINE and even then if they wanted to use the Men's room, the brothers had to go together.

    Most people, when they know what's up, do the right thing.


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